'Tortured phrases' in post-publication peer review of materials, computer and engineering sciences reveal linguistic-related editing problems

Publishing Research 1:6 (2022)
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Abstract

A surge in post-publication activity related to editing, including by technical editors and copyeditors, is worthy of some discussion. One of these issues involves the issue of 'tortured phrases', which are bizarre terms and phrases in academic papers that replace standard English expressions or jargon. This phenomenon may reveal an attempt to avoid the detection of textual similarity or to masquerade plagiarism, and yet remain undetected by editors, peer reviewers and text editors. Potentially thousands of cases have already been discovered and reported publicly on the post-publication platform PubPeer. In this opinion paper, 35 cases from ranked scholarly journals are presented, mainly the fields of materials, computer and engineering sciences. This collation serves to expand discussion about this integrity-related phenomenon and to increase educational awareness of the topic.

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