Trends in Research on Plagiarism Among Brazilian Graduate-Level Studies

Renan Almeida1


Plagiarism is a main concern regarding misconduct in scientific publication. Therefore, it is interesting to gauge and characterize research interests on the topic, particularly in countries with a less established research tradition. The present study updates information on plagiarism research directions among Brazilian graduate-level researchers.


Two databases were used for this study. The first (CAPES database) is maintained by the country’s Ministry of Education, registering information on all master’s/doctoral studies in the country.1 The second (IBICT/BDTD database), a similar database, is maintained by the country’s Ministry of Science.2 Approximately 200,000 manuscripts are included in these databases. The following keywords were used to first identify those manuscripts concerning plagiarism: plagiarism, science integrity, ethics, and scientific misconduct (in Portuguese and in English). After manuscripts were identified, abstracts (or the full manuscripts, when available) were read to select those studies specifically dealing with academic plagiarism. Thus, studies on the arts (eg, theater, music, painting), advertisements, en passant mentions, and historical commentaries were not included in the analysis. Items were then classified as the following3: conceptual studies (eg, discussions about the concept or the implications of plagiarism), development of detection software and methods, teaching/implementation of prevention methods, legal aspects, and case or quantitative studies.


A total of 206 theses/dissertations were identified, the first of which was from 1993. Of these, 119 were selected according to the criteria above, and 1 was discarded because it could not be located. Studies pertained to all main areas of academia, with a large number from engineering/computer sciences (eg, “detection”). Numbers for the past 15 years were as follows: 2006 to 2010: 18; 2011 to 2015: 38; 2016 to 2020: 56. The most common research area was development of detection software, with 40 of the 118 identified manuscripts. Conceptual studies followed second (30 of 118), and prevention methods comprised 18 studies. This tendency was still evident in the last analyzed 5 years, when detection comprised 18 of 56 studies.


Interest in plagiarism research seems to be increasing in Brazil, a trend that is compatible with the growing concern of its funding agencies with the misconduct topic. In the past decades, the main focus moved away from the discussion of historical events to more applied areas of research. The development of detection software was the most active of these areas, a trend that has been noticed before3 and continues to this day.


1. CAPES. CAPES Dissertations Repository (in Portuguese). CAPES/Ministry of Education. Accessed January 2022. https://catalogodeteses.capes.gov.br

2. IBCIT/BDTD. Brazilian Dissertations Library (in Portuguese). IBICT/BDTD/Ministry of Science. Accessed January 2022. https://bdtd.ibict.br

3. Almeida MVR, Fontes-Pereira J. Graduate research on plagiarism in Brazil: characterization of current status. In: 5th World Congress on Research Integrity Abstract Book. World Conferences on Research Integrity; 2017:94. Accessed January 2022. https://wcrif.org/documents/41-abstract-book-5th-wcri-2017

1Programa de Engenharia Biomédica (PEB)/COPPE, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, renan@peb.ufrj.br

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

None reported.


This study was funded by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel–CAPES/Ministry of Education, Brazil, whom we thank.