Ethical issues related to publishing

1. Study design and ethics approval

  • COPE emphasizes the importance of well-planned, ethically approved research.
  • A research protocol should be developed and adhered to, with roles clearly defined by all team members.
  • Research should aim to answer specific questions, not just collect data.
  • Institutional Review Board or Ethics Committee approval is crucial for studies involving people, medical records, and anonymised human tissues.
  • Research proposals should address potential ethical issues, especially for vulnerable subjects.
  • Patient information sheets should be provided during recruitment, detailing objectives, procedures, benefits, harms, and rights to refuse participation.
  • Consent should be obtained from subjects or guardians, and confidentiality of information should be ensured.
 2. Data Analysis in Research
  • Researchers must appropriately analyze data to avoid misconduct.
  • Intentional omission of results can lead to misinterpretation and mislead.
  • Fabrication and falsification of data are considered misconduct.
  • Under-reporting negative research findings is common due to pressure from the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Full disclosure of all data sources and methods is crucial for appropriate data analysis.
  • Discussion sections should address bias issues and explain how they were addressed in the study's design and interpretation. 
3. Authorship Definition and Importance
  • No universally agreed definition of authorship.
  • Authors should have made substantial contributions to the intellectual content.
  • Authors should conceptualize, design, acquire, analyze, and interpret data.
  • Authors should certify the manuscript's validity and take public responsibility.
  • Authors usually draft or revise the manuscript and approve the submitted one.
  • Data collection, grammar, and language editing do not deserve authorship.
  • Early decision-making is crucial in research planning.
  • The "Advice to Authors" of the target journal can guide authorship issues.
4. Conflicts of Interest in Research
  • Conflicts of interest can influence researchers' judgments on published work.
  • These conflicts can be personal, commercial, political, academic, or financial.
  • Financial interests can include employment, research funding, stock ownership, payment for travel, consultancies, and company support.
  • These conflicts should be discussed early in the research process.
  • Researchers should consult an independent researcher or Ethics Committee if doubts arise.
  • Conflicts of interest should be declared to editors during publication.

 5. Redundant Publication and Plagiarism in Research

Redundant Publication:

  • Involves two or more papers sharing the same hypothesis, data, discussion points, or conclusions without full cross-referencing.
  • Previous publication does not preclude subsequent submission, but full disclosure is required.
  • Self-plagiarism is a growing issue in a competitive environment influencing appointments, promotions, and grant applications.


  • Ranges from unreferenced use of others' published ideas to submission under "new" authorship.
  • It's crucial to disclose all sources of information and seek permission for large amounts of other people's materials.


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