In recognizing the importance of educating aspiring scientists in the responsible conduct of research (RCR), the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) began sponsoring the creation of instructional resources to address this pressing need in 2002. The present guide on avoiding plagiarism and other inappropriate writing practices was created to help students, as well as professionals, identify and prevent such malpractices and to develop an awareness of ethical writing and authorship. This guide is one of the many products stemming from ORI’s effort to promote the RCR.
Many other writing guides are available to assist scientists in preparing their research reports for publication in scholarly and scientific outlets. Some of these resources focus on matters of scientific style and are written for those who are completing theses and/or dissertations. Other guides target professionals and focus on topics, such as the traditional Introduction, Methods, Results, [and] Discussion (IMRAD) journal article and submission process, along with other elements of scientific publishing. Few writing guides, however, focus solely on issues related to responsible writing, an area that continues to receive increasing attention in part because of rapid changes occurring in science dissemination and globalization within the last few decades. The latter factor has resulted in the addition of increasing numbers of researchers whose primary language is not English, the lingua franca of science, who must struggle to function in a highly competitive research climate. The changes in science publishing that have taken place in recent years (e.g., open access movement) have also resulted in many more outlets for the publication of scientific research. At the same time, the emergence of so-called “predatory publishers” is thought to have also contributed to a decline in the quality of science that ultimately becomes part of the scientific record (Beall 2013; Clark & Smith, 2015). Because these and related factors are likely associated with questionable writing and authorship practices, ORI felt that an updated and more detailed treatment of the issues covered in the two previous versions of this guide was necessary. Thus, the current version is herein presented.