Ethical standards for publication exist to ensure high-quality scientific publications, public trust in scientific findings, and that people receive credit for their ideas. It is important to avoid:
- Data fabrication and falsification:
Data fabrication means the researcher did not actually do the study, but made up data. Data falsification means the researcher did the experiment, but then changed some of the data. Both of these practices make people distrust scientists. If the public is mistrustful of science then it will be less willing to provide funding support.
Taking the ideas and work of others without giving them credit is unfair and dishonest. Copying even one sentence from someone else's manuscript, or even one of your own that has previously been published, without proper citation is considered plagiarism-use your own words instead.
- Multiple submissions:
It is unethical to submit the same manuscript to more than one journal at the same time. Doing this wastes the time of editors and peer reviewers, and can damage the reputation of journals if published in more than one.
- Redundant publications (or 'salami' publications):
This means publishing many very similar manuscripts based on the same experiment. It can make readers less likely to pay attention to your manuscripts.
- Improper author contribution or attribution:
All listed authors must have made a significant scientific contribution to the research in the manuscript and approved all its claims. Don't forget to list everyone who made a significant scientific contribution, including students and laboratory technicians. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors has detailed guidelines on authorship that are useful for scientists in all fields.
BioMed Central is a member of COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics), which is a charity registered in the UK. It is concerned with the integrity of peer-reviewed publications in science, particularly biomedicine.
The Editors of BioMed Central journals endorse the policies of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, including those that cover overlapping publications.
BioMed Central is a member of the CrossCheck plagiarism detection initiative. In cases of suspected plagiarism, CrossCheck is available to the editors of BioMed Central journals to detect instances of overlapping and similar text in submitted manuscripts. CrossCheck is a multi-publisher initiative allowing screening of published and submitted content for originality.
Don't risk being caught! Remember: If you behave unethically, you will eventually be caught.