Plagiarism FAQs

What is plagiarism?

"A piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work."

–The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th Ed.)

“The unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”

-Random House Dictionary (2010)

What is text recycling?

“Text recycling, also known as self-plagiarism, occurs when sections of the same text appear (usually un-attributed) in more than one of an author’s own publications. The term ‘text recycling’ has been chosen to differentiate from ‘true’ plagiarism (i.e. when another author’s words or ideas have been used, usually without attribution).”


SPE expectations?

SPE expects that authors will credit all sources used in their writings and will not represent the work of another as their own. SPE takes plagiarism very seriously; it is a significant violation of professional ethics. Authors found to have plagiarized the work of another are subject to having their paper removed from the conference program and from OnePetro. Future submissions from authors found to have plagiarized will be scrutinized carefully to avoid potential for subsequent plagiarism. In the case of students found to be plagiarizing the work of others, SPE may inform the student’s university.

Quoting or plagiarizing your own work

If you are writing a new paper, the content should be new and not a repeat of what you wrote in a prior paper. No one will be concerned about the verbatim reuse of a few sentences, or even a full paragraph, but full sections of a prior work should not be repeated. Summarize and cite your own prior work, just as you would if you were citing the work of another author, then focus on what is new that led you to write the current paper.

How can I use others’ work without committing plagiarism?

“Whether quoting, paraphrasing, or using others’ ideas to advance their own arguments, authors should give explicit credit to the source. This credit often takes the form of a formal citation incorporated into a note or parenthetical reference.” (The Chicago Manual of Style. 2010 16th Ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 620)

Appropriate citation is the most important thing that authors can do to avoid plagiarism. Direct quotes (such as above) should be indicated as such with the use of quotation marks, or for somewhat longer passages, indented as a block quote. Direct quotation should be minimized. The focus of a technical paper should be on the contributions of the author’s work, not on long passages from the work of others. Long quotations may also require permission from the authors or copyright holder of the quoted work.

Authors typically learn from and build on the work of others in their own work. This is accepted practice, but in discussing the work of others, it is important to use your own words (showing that you understand the work) and appropriately cite the sources of these ideas. See examples on how to appropriately incorporate the work of others below.

For authors for whom English is a second language, it may be tempting to use the original author’s phrases, believing that it could not be said as well. However, a sudden shift in the quality of English may signal to readers that the author has used someone else’s work. It is preferable to use your own words to summarize the key concepts that apply to your paper.

What do I do if I identify plagiarism in an SPE paper?

If you are a peer-reviewer who has been asked to review the paper, immediately notify the associate editor or executive editor of the journal so that they can take appropriate action.

If you are an author whose paper has been plagiarized, an SPE member, or reader of SPE publications who discovers a possible case of plagiarism, please send an email to us with information about both papers and the similarities observed so that SPE can investigate.

Examples of appropriately incorporating the work of others:

Most often, an author wants to use the ideas of another author to support or advance their own ideas. Reference to the work of others can also be used to establish what is already known as a foundation to the author’s research. In these cases, a reference to the other work may be adequate, such as:

Similar observations have been made by others (Stalkup 1990; Haajizadeh et al. 199; Jessen et al. 2004; Moulds et al. 2005). Dispersion is also an important effect in water injection where miner scales are formed by the mixing of injected and reservoir brines (Sorbie and MacKay 2000; Delshad and Pope 2003), in the underground storage of gases where mixing of the injected and in-situ gas changes the quality of the stored gas (Verlaan et al 1998), and in proposed methods of enhanced natural-gas recovery by injecting anthropogenic CO2 (Oldenburg et al. 2001).

[Quotation taken from John A.K., Lake, L.W. Bryant, S.L., AND Jennings, J.W. 2010. Investigation of Mixing in Field-Scale Miscible Displacements Using Particle-Tracking Simulations of Tracer Floods with Flow Reversal. SPE J 15 (3) 598. SPE-113429-PA.doi:10.2118/113429-PA.]

If it is necessary to include some of the specific findings from other work, then paraphrasing is likely to work best. Reference to the original sources is still required. Paraphrasing does not mean changing one or two words – it means rewriting the ideas in your own words in a way that will further support your work. For example:

Given sufficient residence time and the correct physical conditions, crude-oil emulsions can become partially or fully resolved. Therefore, separator vessels need to be sized appropriately to get the best residence time for the fluids being processed. Sometimes, retrofitting of vessels can occur to make, for example, two-phase separators into three-phase separators to improve residence time (Kokal and Al-Ghamdi 2008).

[Quote take Wylde J.J. Coscio, S., and Barbu, V. 2010 A Case History of Heavy-Oil Separation in Northern Alberta: A Singular Challenge of Demulsifier Optimization and Application. SPE Prod & Oper 25 (1): 20. SPE-117177-PA. doi: 10.2118/117177‐PA.]

The above quote is paraphrasing ideas from several places in the referenced paper, but most specifically, the passage below:

Process variables include oil and water-flow rates, temperatures, water cuts, and GOSP operating conditions. A higer residence time of fluids in the GOSP will generally lead to better separation and better performance, all other variables being constant. Besides the redience time, process retrofits in the vessels also tend to enhance performance.

Quote taken from Kokal, S. and AL-Ghamdi, A. 2008. Performance Appraisals of Gas Oil Separation Plants. SPE Prod and Oper 23 (2): 287. SPE-10854-PA. doi 10.2118/102854-PA.]

Here is another example of paraphrasing:

Two types of tests to measure shale pore-pressure change caused by shale/fluid interactions (under stress) are reported in the literature. Mody and Hale (1993) used an oedometer-type apparatus to provide axial load and confinement to shale samples. After loading, the samples were first saturated with 6 wt % NaCL under pressure (applied at one end of the sample), and then the fluid at the end was changed to a different fluid. Measurements of pore-pressure change at the other end of the sample were made. In the other type of test ….

[Quote take from Ewy,R.T.and Stankovic, R.J.2010. Shale Swelling, Osmosis, and Acoustic Changes Measured Under Simulated Downhole Conditions. SPE Drill & Compl 25 (2): 177. SPE-78160-PA. doi:10.2118/78160‐PA.]

This quote summarizes a much longer and more detailed explanation of the test method from the cited work:

A special oedometer-type test cell was designed for experiments on shale samples under realistic in-situ conditions to determine the influence of difference in chemical potential between the drilling fluid and shale on the pore pressure in shales. Fig. 4 is a schematic of the apparatus. Refs. 3 and 23 give details of sample preparation.

The shale samples are visually reinspected for cracks before mounting in the oedometer test cell (Fig 4). After mounting the oedometer cell on a computerized servo-controlled loading frame, the shale sample, under the action of axial overburden stress and wellbore pressure, was allowed to reach initial saturation and equilibrium. Wellbore pressure was applied with a servo-controlled intensifier. At equilibrium, the wellbore pressure approximately equaled the shale pore pressure. We used 6 wt % NaCl solution, which has approximately the same water activity (0.96 measured) as the native Pierre shale, to saturate and equilibrate the sample initially. This typically was done in several loading states until the final values of the overburden stress and wellbore pressure were achieved. After the equilibration, the 6 wt % NaCl solution was displaced under the same wellbore pressure with the drilling fluid to be tested. From this step on, the test can be conducted under either constant volume or constant-overburden stress-conditions.

[Quotation from Mody, F.K. and Hale, A.H. 1993. Borehole-Stability Model to Couple the Mechanics and Chemistry of Drilling- Fluid/Shale Interactions. J. Pet Tech 45 (11):1096‐1097. SPE-25728-PA. doi: 10.2118/25728‐PA.]