As an engineer and a scientist, it is critical for us to pay attention to research ethics when writing scientific papers. Because of this reason, research ethics is also one of the first things that the head of our department emphasized during the orientation when I entered VT. After reading the above article, I want to share a few thoughts on ethics based on my experiences in this post:

First of all, how to define “plagiarism”? In a paper, when does it easily happen?

Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.  In my opinion, considering writing an scientific paper,  plagiarism mostly occurs in the “introduction” section where authors describe the history (or related literature) of the topic. Except the case that the topic of the papers has never been widely studied before, we always can find some related references and provide an objective view for the papers before presenting our results. We can even find a review paper which contains all the important references and was usually written by an expert of the field. Thus, we might not need to read the original paper and simply “rephrase” what other people said in their paper and more importantly, put these paper in the references. Usually, in this way, it won’t be regarded as plagiarism; however, I believe that reading the original paper is very important if you want to become not only a good researcher but also a good writer. This is because those review papers or articles might ignore some aspects which are significant to the readers of our paper.

Furthermore, plagiarism also easily happens in the figures of the paper. But I think it’s very hard to find. This type of ethical issue has happened to me in these two years. After publishing my first paper, there have been a few people who cited my publications. I noticed that there is one  paper which copied one of my figure, same style and same expression and even similar description in the critical.  I was so angry!!!! They should have at least put a reference!!! or at least change the style or replot the figure!!!

Secondly, research ethics also involves Falsification which means the act of disproving a proposition, hypothesis, or theory. I think usually it occurs when researchers published papers based on falsified the data. I would say the motivation for them to do is simply to generate more papers and get more reputation in their field of study. However, this is never acceptable in science. Their falsified data will impede the advance of science and technology and mislead the future research in the wrong direction. Moreover, I’ve known that sometimes it is possible that the students falsified  the data but their professor didn’t know about that. In this case, I believe both sides have responsibilities. Come to think about it, it’s difficult to become a professor. Of course, professors would like to believe their students and give them confidence, but sometimes it is still necessary to know more details and check if they are doing the right things.

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