Cheating and RePEc

April 6, 2008

This posts details how RePEc can be and has been useful in detecting cheating, and how RePEc is dealing with this unfortunate phenomenon.

Plagiarism by authors

RePEc facilitates the availability of research and thus makes it available to would be plagiarists, but RePEc also facilitates the detection of such plagiarism, either directly through RePEc services like EconPapers and IDEAS, or indirectly as other services like Google or Yahoo use RePEc to populate their search engines. While it is not part of its mission, RePEc has on occasion been assisting plagiarized authors to obtain redress, resulting in at least one dismissal from graduate school among the several caught authors.

Plagiarism by publishers

Yes, publishers can also plagiarize, namely by publishing without authorization from authors. Quite obviously, RePEc is tailor-made for detecting such abuse. Unfortunately, there is little that RePEc can do to punish such publishers, except unlisting them. This has happened so far for one publisher, and another one is currently on probation.

Manipulating author profiles

Given that RePEc provides author rankings, there are incentive to inflate one’s résumé with works of others. The logs of the RePEc Author Service are monitored on a regular basis. Any inappropriate claim is then flagged, and the misbehaving author may face a warning or even an exclusion, depending on circumstances. Honest mistakes may happen, but willful manipulation is not tolerated.

Manipulating statistics

Another way to improve rankings is to inflate download ans abstract views statistics. Fortunately, LogEc uses a series of filters, among others removing multiple downloads from the same IP address clusters, looks for various suspicious download patterns as well as a visual audit. Suspicious activity leads usually to the reset the relevant statistics to zero with a warning, an exclusion being the the consequence for a repeat offender. So far, one author has been excluded and several warned.


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