A note on good research practice

A note on good research practice

International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 15 (2013) 1–2 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect International Journal of Greenhouse...

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International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 15 (2013) 1–2

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ijggc


A note on good research practice

“Good research practice” and its polar opposite “research misconduct” have been concerns of mine for most of my professional career (see for example, Dooley and Kerch (2000) which summarized seven years of research and analysis on this issue). In my role as an editor of the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, I feel it is time to share my concerns and suggestions as they relate to the integrity of the research published in this journal. By far the most common issue we editors of this journal are seeing in terms of poor scientific practice in submissions is the failure to appropriately cite the work of others. Sadly, we see numerous submissions per month that contain what is unequivocally outright plagiarism (Stolley et al., 2012 provide a very accesible discussion of what is and what is not plagarism). My confidence in this judgment stems from our practice of using, for all papers that are sent out for peer review, the iThenthicate plagiarism detection software (iParadigms, 2013). This is a powerful tool that makes spotting egregious examples of plagiarism quite easy – that is, papers in which page after page of text that has been lifted without attribution from somebody else’s work. Of course, in other cases there is a good deal of judgment that must be used with this tool. So please be aware that the tool exists and it is used with each paper submitted to this journal. Incidents of self-plagiarism also appear to be on the rise in submissions to this journal. Self-plagiarism also damages the integrity of the written research record (see for example, iParadigms (2011) which defines and discusses the ethics of self-plagerism). Readers of the peer reviewed literature have a valid expectation that – unless otherwise explicitly noted – what is presented in a peer reviewed paper is new knowledge. Moreover, when a paper is submitted to this journal, the corresponding author and all of the contributing authors are required to affirm that the work presented in the submission is novel and has not been presented elsewhere. Self-plagiarism in the form of, for example, repeating the entire literature review from a previous paper or repeating the majority of the description of the experimental set up (again without explicit acknowledgement) is not in keeping with the statement made upon submission that the work is novel; in fact, it is a betrayal of the trust readers place in the soundness of the research presented. To reduce instances of plagiarism in submitted articles, following are five commonsense suggestions that apply to all named authors, who, as noted above, share the responsibility for sound research practices. All authors of a given paper must be willing to stand by the totality of the paper. This does not mean that all must be equally knowledgeable about all aspects of the paper but it does mean that, before submitting a paper to this or any other journal,

1750-5836/$ – see front matter © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijggc.2013.02.003

all authors must discuss the paper and its contents and make sure that all understand what is in the paper and all must understand the methods and the conclusions. 1. Understand that as an author you have a clear and unequivocal responsibility to faithfully and accurately report what work is novel in a submission and what knowledge in the submission is derived from the work of others. 2. Understand that as an author you also have a clear and unequivocal responsibility to place the research being presented in your manuscript within the broader body of existing knowledge. Citing the prior art in your field is mandatory; it should not be seen as being burdensome. Rather, it is an opportunity to more effectively communicate your research by contextualizing it within the extant body of knowledge, which helps experts in your field as well as the broader technical community to understand the work being presented. “Citing the prior art in your field” also carries with it an obligation to cite the work of others, unless you are the rare person who is sole source of all that is known in a given field. 3. If you have multiple related papers out to different journals, please communicate this to the journal editor, to peer reviewers, and to the eventual readers of the submission, assuming that the article is published. Informing readers that the paper they are reading is materially related in this or that manner to other research papers from the same research group helps readers understand the totality of the knowledge you and your colleagues are bringing forward. Failing to inform editors and readers of the linkages to other work often leads to misunderstandings and often times accusations of duplicative or what is sometimes called “fractional publication.” 4. Be proactive when it comes to fostering good scientific practice by asking questions of your colleagues, mentoring younger scientists and by making use of the many fine resources, including a number of thought-provoking case studies, designed to foster dialogue and learning as to what are good scientific practices (see for example the wealth of information at COPE, 2013; Elsevier, 2012). 5. If issues arise or if you simply want a second opinion on how to resolve a particularly tricky issue, reach out and communicate with the journal’s editors. Communication between editors and authors is often a powerful tool for quickly resolving issues. A lack of communication often can transform a misunderstanding into an intractable problem that negatively impacts a surprising large number of people. It is important to state that this


Editorial / International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 15 (2013) 1–2

“communication” is a two-way street. My fellow editors and I are and intend to remain human, and are therefore subject to making errors. Please speak up and – to the extent you can – substantiate your concerns if you believe we are in error. In conclusion, seek to be as transparent as possible in communicating your research. Others cannot build upon your published work if they do not understand how the research was conducted, how the conclusions were arrived at and trust that the results are faithfully and honestly presented. Ultimately, we all are responsible for fostering good scientific practice. Transparency and truthfulness must be at the center of this enterprise. References COPE, 2013. Committee on Publication Ethics: Resources, Committee on Publication Ethics, http://publicationethics.org/resources

Dooley, J.J., Kerch, H.M., 2000. Evolving research misconduct policies and their significance for physical scientists. Sci. Eng. Ethics 6, 109–121. Elsevier, 2012. Ethics in Research and Publication. Elsevier Ltd., Amsterdam http://www.ethics.elsevier.com/ iParadigms, 2011. The Ethics of Self-Plagiarism: White Paper. iParadigms, Oakland, CA http://www.ithenticate.com/self-plagiarism-free-white-paper iParadigms, 2013. Ithenticate. iParadigms, Oakland, CA http://www. ithenticate.com/ Stolley, K., Brizee, A., Paiz, J.M., 2012. Is It Plagiarism Yet? Purdue University, Lafayette, IN http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/02/

James J. Dooley ∗ Joint Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 5825 University Research Court, Suite 3500, College Park, MD 20740, USA ∗ Tel.:

+1 301 314 6766. E-mail address: [email protected] Available online 21 February 2013