Intended for healthcare professionals

Analysis And Comment

Ethical writing should be taught

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 14 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:596
  1. Miguel Roig (, associate professor of psychology1
  1. 1 St John's University, 300 Howard Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301, USA

    Iain Chalmers describes a case of scientific misconduct in which an author plagiarised both text and data on two separate instances.1 Although he took the proper steps after detecting the plagiarism, Chalmers seems to have been unsuccessful in resolving the matter. This and other similar failures of our scientific system of justice leads me to support his recommendations for dealing with plagiarism, particularly his call to publicly expose those who have been found guilty of misconduct.

    Public exposure of plagiarists, and the consequent embarrassment and ostracism that these offenders should experience, not only satisfies our intrinsic need for social justice but can also serve as a deterrent. Unfortunately, many scientific journals, professional organisations, and academic institutions lack the necessary resources and, apparently in some cases, even the will to investigate misconduct allegations.

    What constitutes plagiarism?

    To make matters worse, plagiarism can be an ill defined and complex concept. For example, some evidence suggests that many health …

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