Library Issues

Emerald and TurnItIn

I have difficulty relating my feelings about the announcement by Emerald that they have partnered with TurnItIn (again no link love from me…for my views on TiI, feel free to look at my last post on the matter). I do not believe that a journal publisher would voluntarily show such disregard for the Intellectual Property of their authors.

The partnership with iParadigms allows Emerald to address the problems of plagiarism and copyright infringement in two ways:

  • By allowing students, tutors, researchers and editors to compare content that they are submitting, marking, editing or publishing with content previously published by Emerald through the Turnitin and iThenticate services. This will alert the enquirer to possible duplication or plagiarism, and allow them to take the appropriate action, for example revision.
  • By allowing Emerald to be proactive and check submitted work for copyright infringement against content it has previously published, plus 8.6 billion web pages, tens of millions of articles in more than 15,000 periodicals, and copyright free material.

Let’s deconstruct this press release, briefly:

  • iParadigms is described as: “developers of the Turnitin plagiarism detection product for academic institutions and the iThenticate plagiarism detection product for content publishers”
  • This agreement “reinforces Emerald’s proactive stance on plagiarism, and ensures that Emerald content continues to maintain its high standard of integrity.”
  • Malik AboRashid, Senior Director of Business Development, from iParadigms makes a statement that includes the phrase “confirms Emerald’s commitment to supporting integrity in scholarship and their position as a publisher of high quality research”
  • Emerald’s Editorial Director Rebecca Marsh’s statement includes “…help to promote integrity in academic research …” and “…guard against plagiarized and duplicated work appearing in Emerald journals…”
  • Then without warning, we get one mention of copyright: “…Allowing Emerald to be proactive and check submitted work for copyright infringement against content it has previously published…”

The amount wrong with that last bullet could be a novel, but lets start with the fact that they’re now concerned with “copyright infringement” instead of plagiarism. I thought that TurnItIn was a tool used for upholding academic integrity…what sort of “copyright infringement” might be of concern to a academic paper and publisher?

Is Emerald prepared to apply Fair Use principles to these instances? Or will the author simply be told to “fix” the work when nothing is legally wrong? Emerald also, given the above excerpt, appears as if it can’t check its own databases…do they really need TurnItIn to compare a submitted paper to their own holdings?

I, along with other academics, believe strongly that TurnItIn is profiteering off the un-compensating backs of the students. I really hope that a campus student organization at a university where TiI is used takes notice of this soon.

As noted in a comment on ACRLog, this is remarkably humorous when you consider that Emerald has been called out in the past for shady intellectual property treatments:

A librarian at Cornell University has discovered that a major scholarly-journal company, Emerald, has often published the same article in multiple journals without noting that the material had already appeared elsewhere.

“I found journals that were complete copies of one another,” says Philip M. Davis, a life-sciences librarian at Cornell.

He found that Emerald, a British company that publishes journals on management-and-information science, had republished 409 articles in 67 journals from 1989 to 2003. Mr. Davis says that he contacted the authors of the articles and found that, in some cases, Emerald had asked to republish articles, while in other cases authors could not recall whether they had been contacted.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

2 replies on “Emerald and TurnItIn”

So lets see.. I should not complain at 13%.. but I got cited for titles of “The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)” that is the name of the government org.. or how about “sold shares of “blank business” stock at” that just seem like common sentence in a finance paper…. these need to be flagged as a common use. 4% came from my work cited.. the titles.. yea no crap these will not show up. So at only 5 pages and 13%.. so by default 15 pages over 30% for all the one offs and a default 6 – 9 % just in Cite references. The funny thing is the matches did not even come from where I got the data. If this is 30% number is going to be the deciding factor if I have to rewrite the paper….Please… show me the logic.

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