Writing a paper, an overvalued skill?

writing a paper, an overvalued skill?With the publication and promotion of my eBook ‘Publish in Journals 3.0’, I am learning a lot about academic books. For example, I discovered that on Amazon there are hundreds of books on how to write a paper: with different names, in different sizes, general ones and specialized in different fields of knowledge, such as social sciences or biology.

Only this fact gives an idea of ​​the interest of professors and PhD students for writing well, giving then, in the process of publishing in journals, greater importance to the writing part of the paper, but this process consists of several stages:

  1. Research activity
  2. Plan the impact (or setting the strategy for publication)
  3. Construct (write) the manuscript
  4. Interact with the elements (journals, tools, editors, peer-reviewers)
  5. Share your publications

I think that the quality of any paper is given by the research activity, methodology used and contribution, which should the center of all this, not the writing of the article. The writing would appear in a second level of priority. In the third place would be networking with editors.

So going a bit further, I wonder if some scientists believe that a well-written paper can fix a bad research activity. In order to not to be too strict, I guess that it could do it in some cases, depending on the editors, peer-reviewers and the type of journals; after all, publishing a paper consists of various activities and skills, as mentioned before.

Leaving aside the personal ability of each academic to write, in theory it is assumed that the content and structure of a paper should be taught in the universities, during the PhD, with the tutor; but we know that this is not entirely true, it depends on our interest. In the end, for improving this writing skill, we need to read other journals, consult books and blogs, and pay some attention to the comments from the editors and peer-reviewers.

The truth is that I had underestimated the interest of scientists for writing well, so I’ll pay to it more attention in the future. And you? What are you doing to write better?

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Worst practices for misconduct authors

arbitroThere are several ideas going around in my head regarding the reasons for the growing plagiarism in academic publications and that someone is willing to get into this game for money:

  • There is great pressure to publish.
  • Capitalism is pervading everything.
  • In general, professors are not well paid.
  • Some publishing activities are not remunerated, as academic editor or peer review.

And trying to clarify this issue in blogs and online discussions, I have been able to make a list of the types of plagiarism that currently exist, that could be seen as the worst practices for pirate-authors:

  • Plagiarism: kidnapping or appropriation of others thoughts and ideas without acknowledging its source.
  • Self-plagiarism or recycling fraud: reuse of your own texts without attributing previous publication.
  • Ghost writing: write books, articles or other texts that are credited to another person, generally for money.
  • Honorary authorship: include authors in a publication without adding value or contributing, inflating its credentials.
  • Duplicate publication: use your own publications more than once, changing the title and abstract.
  • Salami slicing: creating several short publications out of material that could have, perhaps more validly, been published as a single article in a journal or review.
  • Remix or mosaic plagiarism: mixing several publications to obtain more publishable units.
  • Image and data manipulation: modify data and results to obtain another document for publication.

It is amusing and dangerous at the same time the combination of some of the above activities, such as ghost writing and plagiarism, it would be that you pay for an article to be written but that in turn is plagiarized, so at the end, apart from wasting your money, you may run many risks, as the reputational one.

I am not sure before, but now with open access and the Internet is becoming easier to detect plagiarism of any of the existing types. Recently in Spain a professor has been condemned for plagiarizing a chapter of a student. In line with those worst practices above, the article could have been coauthored with the student – that is, the professor adds his name and the student the content, or that he did not even remember that it was not his? But I guess believing to be very smart is worse than plagiarism.

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