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Guidelines for publication of research

Guidelines for Ethical Writing

Avoid questionable practices when publishing research results

Thie content of this guide is adapted from "Avoiding Plagiarism, Self-plagiarism,and Other Questionable Writing Practices:  A Guide to Ethical Writing", by Miguel Roig, a publication of the Office of Research Integrity, US Department of Health and Human Services.  See "Additional Resources" below for a pdf.

More detailed information is also available at the ORI website.

An important principle of ethical writing is that the information presented is assumed to be the sole work of the author or authors with ideas that are not original to the author carefully identified.  It is the responsibility of the author to exercise due diligence for accurately representing information and providing attribution for information that is not theirs by following scholarly conventions.  These scholarly conventions include footnotes, block-indented text and quotation marks.  

Plagiarism in a variety of forms is the most common form of unethical publishing.  It can be described as taking ideas, words, images, design elements, or processes and representing them as one's own.  Researchers and students are offered training in correct methods for acknowledging the source of ideas and citing their sources in presentations and publications to prevent plagiarism but carelessness or inadvertent plagiarism is still common. Plagiarism can have significant consequences, resulting in retraction of publications, loss of professional reputation and serious academic and career impacts. 

OSU students are encouraged to get writing assistance as needed when preparing manuscripts. The OSU Library routinely offers writing workshops where ethical authorship is taught and students are encouraged to consult the OSU Writing Center when they need guidance. Below are guidelines for ethical authorship and avoiding plagiarism.  More detailed information is available in the ORI guide

Guidelines for ethical writing

  • An ethical writer ALWAYS acknowledges the contributions of other to their work.  
  • Any verbatim text taken from another source must be enclosed in quotation marks and be accompanied by a citation to indicate it's origins.
  • When we summarize others' work, we use our own words to condense and convey others' contributions in a shorter version of the original.
  • When paraphrasing others' work, not only must we use our own words, but we must also use our own syntactical structure.
  • Summarizing and paraphrasing without giving credit is plagiarism.  
  • It is also important to be sure that when paraphrasing or summarizing other's work the exact meaning of the ideas or facts are conveyed with our own words and sentence structure.
  • In order to do correctly convey the meaning of the original work, it is important to have a complete grasp of the language, ideas and terminologies being expressed.
  • When in doubt about whether a concept or fact is common knowledge, provide a citation. 

Additional resources

  • E. R. Fisher & K. M. Partin (2014) The Challenges for Scientists in Avoiding Plagiarism, Accountability in Research, 21:6, 353-365, DOI: 10.1080/08989621.2013.877348