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scientific paper writing

The Ethics of Scientific Writing What to Avoid In Writing your Paper

Be a beginner or an experienced researcher scientific writing is not easy for both. Apart from the format, structure, and grammar, there are certain ethical principles to be followed in scientific writing.

Since you write scientific papers for advancement in the scientific field, strict adherence to these ethical guidelines is necessary. Therefore, professional organisations like Committee on Publication Ethics and International Council of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) formulate guidelines for authors to follow in scientific writing.

The two most important ethical issues related to scientific writing are plagiarism and authorship. Consideration of these issues is required to avoid any scientific misconduct and achieve success with your research publication

This section discusses these issues in detail and how to avoid them in your scientific writing.

Plagiarism

The U.S. Office of Science and Technology defines plagiarism as “the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving him appropriate credit.” It equals to literary theft and is a form of scientific misconduct, be it intentional or accidental.

Different forms of plagiarism in scientific writing:

  • Intentional plagiarism is one where the author deliberately copies the text from the other author without giving him due credit.
  • Self-plagiarism or text recycling is one where the author copies large part of the text from his or her previous papers.
  • Duplicate publication where the author submits previously published work for publication as an original work. Submitting previously published manuscripts for publication is not only unethical but also wastes the time of the journal editors and reviewers.

Why do authors resort to plagiarism?

Many writers are not aware of the strict guidelines for plagiarism or other researches done in the field. It accidentally leads to the copying of text from the other authors.

However, certain writers resort to intentional plagiarism due to:

  • Tremendous pressure to publish their research and advance their career
  • Language barriers causing difficulty in writing in English
  • Lack of time to write the paper
  • Lack of appropriate writing skills

How to avoid plagiarism in scientific writing?

  • Always acknowledge the contributions of others and source of your ideas.
  • Enclose in quotation marks the verbatim text taken from another author.
  • Paraphrase or summarise the text taken from another author into your own words.
  • Reproduce the text with the exact meaning of the other author’s ideas and facts using your own words and sentences.
  • Take help of a competent scientific writing services, in case you lack the writing skills.
  • Use plagiarism checking websites to detect any accidental plagiarism in your paper.

Authorship

The major issues related to authorship include determination of author responsibilities and author order. If you award authorship to people who have not made sufficient contributions to the manuscript and deny authorship to the deserving contributors, it’s a violation of scientific integrity.

Different types of authorship abuse in scientific writing:

  • Coercion authorship is where a senior person pressurises his junior to include his name on the paper to which he hasn’t contributed enough.
  • Honorary, guest or gift authorship is where you award authorship to well-known senior investigators or colleagues to acknowledge their friendship, gain favour, or to give the paper a greater sense of legitimacy.
  • Mutual support authorship is where two or more investigators place their names on each other’s paper to enhance their productivity.
  • Ghost authorship is where the actual author’s name is not included or acknowledged in the paper. This is quite common in the pharmaceutical industry which often hires professional writers.
  • Denial of authorship is where you publish the paper without providing authorship or acknowledgement to people who made significant contributions to the work.

Another issue with authorship is the author’s order. Generally, the first and the last author positions are most desirable. The first or the “primary author” is one who conducts most of the research work and drafts the manuscript. The senior author, who directs the project, is listed as the last author. The names of other contributing authors appear between the primary and senior authors in the order of their relative contribution to the work.

How to avoid authorship abuse in scientific writing?

  • Define the role of each person working on the project before writing the paper
  • Clarify authorship expectations when asking your colleague to participate in the project or review your manuscript
  • While listing authors on your manuscript, ensure they meet the following criteria:
    • Made significant contributions to conception and design, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data.
    • Drafted the manuscript or revised it critically for important intellectual content
    • Gave final approval of the version to be published
  • Acquisition of funds, collection of data, and general supervision of research group do not qualify for authorship

Strictly adhering to the ethical guidelines of scientific writing and avoiding the above mistakes is a tedious process. So contact our scientific writing services company to make your research publication a success.

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