Since August 2012 Boris (Boriss) Lariushin has been prolifically publishing a series of illustrated botanical monographs on major plant families. The problem is that these books are plagiarised from the Internet and published under Lariushin’s name without acknowledgement or accreditation of the multiple sources. Although the information and images he copies are freely available, most are protected by a traditional copyright statement or issued with a Creative Commons licence that permits reuse with accreditation. Estonia-based Lariushin ignores this, publishing these books as his own work, and claiming his own copyright (all rights reserved) on these compilations. This flagrant abuse of other people’s content is of wide concern to the scientific community as it fundementally undermines the drive towards Open Access and free availablity of scientific information. These books appear to be largely automatically generated, and further volumes are sure to appear – the three volumes on the carrot family Apiaceae only cover about 25% of the genera, and so one presumes that Lariushin is expecting to publish a further nine more volumes just on this family.
Lariushin’s first monograph was published in August 2012, and covered the tomato and potato family (Solanaceae) in 2 volumes. This was followed by three volumes on the carrot family (Apiaceae) a few months later (discussed below), and recently two more books have appeared: one on the water-lily family (Nympheaceae) and another on cycads (Cycadaceae), both in January 2013. The publisher is not indicated in any these books, but Amazon.co.uk gives this as CreateSpace, part of the Amazon group of companies (see below). The printer of each volume is Amazon.co.uk.
As specialist on the carrot family (Apiaceae/Umbelliferae), I was naturally interested in these new books which claim to cover “all Apiaceae of the world in several color photos for each species described, detailed descriptions, scientific information” (Amazon listing). At first glance these look impressive publications, liberally illustrated with colour photographs, but alarm bells started to ring when I saw the running head ‘Solanaceae Family’ throughout all three books – presumably a formatting error carried over from his earlier books. On closer inspection I was disappointed to find that all the information and images given for every species that I checked appears to have been copied from internet websites – including my own work published in the Flora of China. The books do not contain acknowledgment nor accreditation to the multiple sources used. Indeed, the author’s own claim of copyright leads one to assume that this is primary information, and all his own work.
A very large proportion of the contents of these books (perhaps almost all?) appears to comprise data copied from Internet sources (see examples below) where it is freely available for people to read, and in a much more flexible, updatable format than in these printed books. Lariushin’s actions in publishing and selling these books clearly breaks the copyright and/or licensing arrangements for many sources from which he has plagiarised text and images, and it is surprising that the publisher did not undertake any content checks before agreeing to print these works. School examination boards and universities routinely use automated methods to check student scripts for plagiarism of internet sources, and perhaps Amazon should adopt these technologies (e.g.CrossRef’s Cross Check) to check manuscripts that are sent to them.
Lariushin’s plagiarism of these sources without accreditation is unacceptable, and disregards the work and intellectual input of the people who actually did the original research. Readers might be interested in looking at Boris Lariushin’s own website, where his photos of nature are provided under a Creative Commons Share Alike license (you may copy and reuse, but must attribute the sources and be for non commercial use). He clearly wishes to get accreditation for his own work.
I cannot recommend that anyone buys these books. Indeed, it is a shame that, in common with other botanical institutes, our library has already bought these products, assuming that they are bona fide botanical publications. These books add nothing to the growth of scientific knowledge. If anything they stifle the future free availability of authoritative information as people will think twice about contributing information to websites and other Open Access publications.
Details on the ‘Apiaceae Family’ volumes
- Lariushin, B. (2012). Apiaceae Family: volume 1. [publisher not indicated, October 2012]. ISBN 10: 1-4801-6879-3 (soft back, £44.49); 13: 978-1480-1-6879-4 (hard back, £83.23). pp 429.
- Lariushin, B. (2012). Apiaceae Family: volume 2. [publisher not indicated, October 2012]. ISBN 10: 1-4802-1827-8 (soft back, £44.46); 13: 978-1480-2-1827-7 (hard back, £83.23). pp 422.
- Lariushin, B. (2012). Apiaceae Family: volume 3. [publisher not indicated, November 2012]. ISBN 10: 1-4810-2137-0 (soft back, £44.49); 13: 978-1-4810-2137-1 (hard back, £83.01). pp 413.
The publisher is ‘CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform’, CreateSpace, a DBA (Doing Business As company) of On-Demand Publishing LLC, part of the Amazon group of companies. The printer is given in each volume as Amazon.co.uk, Ltd., Marston Gate, Great Britain. Paperback and Kindle versions of these books are listed on the Amazon.co.uk website under the author ‘Boriss Lariushin‘ (he also has other listings under the name ‘Boris Lariushin‘), and hardback versions are available on the self-publishing website Lulu.
Each of the three volumes starts with the same three-page introduction to the family and an 11-page list of genera in the Apiaceae. The introductory text is copied verbatim from the Wikipedia entry for the family, with the headings removed. The list of genera is also copied verbatim from Wikipedia (see here), including the errors of including the species name Hacquetia epipactis rather than just the generic name, and ‘Scandia (plant)’. Genera and species are ordered alphabetically: volume 1 includes Aciphylla to Astericum, volume 2 includes Astomaea to Chaerophyllum, and volume 3 includes Chaetosciadium to Eriosynaphe. Presumably many future volumes are planned to cover the numerous genera, from Eryngium to Zosima, which comprise almost 8 of the remaining 11-page list of genera at the start of the books.
Each genus usually starts with a short description and list of included species – again taken from Wikipedia (e.g. compare Cymopterus, vol. 3 p.157 with the Wikipedia entry). Sometimes additional information is given, for example the information for Cympoterus continues with text copied verbatim from the Southwest Colorado Wildflowers website (there is no indication that Al Schneider, the author of the Colorado website, has given permission for his work to be used in this way, as clearly stated in Schneider’s copyright statement). Information on the genus is usually followed by one or more species accounts with coloured photographs and some text. The information provided on each species is very heterogeneous, possibly reflecting what could be found on internet sources. No keys, or other identification tools (apart from the images) are provided. Each volume concludes with a ‘Table of Contents’ listing the included genera and species.
Further examples of the use of online sources
Volume 2: Bupleurum gracillimum (p 217-219). The first block of text is copied verbatim from the Flora of China account, which is made available electronically on the eFloras website here. Lariushin has ignored the Flora of China copyright statement, and guidance on how to cite the Flora. The second block of text is also copied verbatim from the eFloras website, from the Flora of Pakistan account here. The five images that are used to illustrate this species are all copied from the Subject Database of Chinese Plants, here. Lariushin has cropped off the website accreditation and contributor information from the images before they were inserted into the book.
Volume 3: Cymopterus purpurascens (p. 216-217), has the first block of text and first image taken from the Wikipedia entry – the content is covered under the general Creative Commons license, and the image provided by Curtis Clark under a CC Share Alike copyright license. The other images used are from another Wikipedia site here (also submitted by Curtis Clark) and from Mary Winter’s images in the CalPhotos database (which has clear ban on using the image without written permission). The second block of text is copied verbatim from the Southwest Environment Information Network (SEINet), which has a clear use policy. The text for Endressa castellana (p. 387-388) is automatically translated (rather poorly) from the Spanish account in the Flora Vascular website, and the line drawing plate is taken from Flora Iberica Online.
Readers will also be interested in Rudolf Schmid’s article on this publication, and other notorious cases of botanical plagarism, in his book review Beware Boriss’s bogus botany books! Bypass: Apiaceae, Cycadaceae, Nymphaeaceae, and Solanaceae, published in Taxon (Taxon 62: 431-433. April 2013).