Endocrine Abstracts (2007) 13 S70

Fraud and plagiarism

Stephen Hillier


University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.


‘The essence of scientific responsibility is the inner drive, the inner necessity to get to the bottom of things; to be discontented until one has done so; to express one’s reservations fully and honestly; and to be prepared to admit error.’ (A. Weinberg 1978 ‘The Obligations of Citizenship in the Republic of Science’ Minerva 16:1–3). Fraud and plagiarism never knowingly come into the equation. Any form of public communication by you – paper or electronic, visual or oral - is quality assured: your reputation hangs on it. However, in the modern academic helter-skelter of multiple grant applications, articles, posters, reviews, chapters, etc. it is worryingly easy, inadvertently, to run into trouble unless five basic rules are strictly followed.

1. Cite others. Always cite the source of any included material that is not yours. This includes concepts and hypotheses as well as methods and data.

2. Cite yourself. Always cite the source of anything that is yours, if you have previously published it.

3. Cite accurately. Do read any paper you cite, and quote it accurately. It is estimated that 80% of citers do not read the original. (M.V. Simkin and V.P. Roychowdhury 4. 2003 Read before you cite! Complex Systems 14:269–274).

4. Invite criticism. Let others see what you intend to publish. Listen to their comments and accommodate them. As well as co-authors, this includes other experienced colleagues. An external perspective always helps.

5. Do quality, not quantity. Never ‘salami-slice’ data into multiple minor papers. This often requires presentation of reference (control) data more than once. (If unavoidable, always cite the original item and gain copyright permission to reproduce it first.) Remember, one handsomely cited ‘classic’ does much more for your career than a series of lesser items that clutter the literature and make only incremental contributions to knowledge.

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