Make your research count and publish ethically

Elsevier launches a new program to help early career researchers to publish and advance science through good ethical standards

Mary Kate Donais was a research student when she was asked to review a manuscript and noticed the introductory paragraph was taken from a grant proposal she had submitted months earlier.

Another young researcher was told his original idea and preliminary data were nothing but a waste of time--only to see someone else told to pursue a study and submit a manuscript on that very concept.

Plagiarism, authorship disputes and research fraud are just a few of the forms of misconduct you might encounter, and not have the knowledge or guidance to deal with. Even established researchers might unknowingly violate ethical boundaries because they don't know what the boundaries are in the first place. Students and young researchers may not be aware of what constitutes a breach and how just one - even through lack of knowledge - can affect their career and society at large.

Despite growing awareness and focus on the issue of ethical misconduct in research and publishing, more and more cases are being detected. And although publishers are introducing new and effective tools to detect plagiarism and duplicate submissions, better prevention strategies are needed to teach those new to the scientific community what to avoid.

It was with this in mind that Elsevier convened a team of experts to help design a program to address how we can support new authors.

A distinguished advisory panel was assembled to vet ideas and materials that included: Dr. David Rew, Medical Chair SCOPUS Content Selection and Advisory Board; Prof. Alexander T (Sandy) Florence, Editor in Chief, International Journal of Pharmaceutics; Ole Gunnar Evensen, Assistant Director, University of Bergen Library, Norway; and Dr. Margaret Rees, Secretary of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

The result of this collaboration is Ethics in Research & Publication (, an interactive program that emphasizes the individual researcher's contribution to advancing science through integrity and good ethical standards. It also highlights the impact misconduct can have on the science community as a whole and on one's career.


The program offers a series of custom-designed features to help you publish with confidence:

  • Interactive quiz that allows you to test your ethics IQ
  • Toolkit with downloadable fact sheets n multiple languages and materials that answer the question "what should you do to avoid misconduct in specific situations?"
  • Top 5 Reasons to Publish Ethically poster
  • Recorded version of the webinar presented by the panel members

The program also features interviews and personal viewpoints from researchers who have witnessed or been victims of misconduct. One of them is Mary Kate Donais, whose story is featured and can be found on the website, in the section From the Community.

"Ethical issues are a shared problem for all involved in research and publishing," said Catriona Fennell, Director of Publishing Services for STM Journals at Elsevier and one of the main drivers behind the program. "We felt our strongest impact would be in providing the tools to help researchers learn the 'rules' and how to comply with them."

Ethics & Research in Publication will be continuously updated with expert commentary, real-life stories, and new tools. If you have a story you'd like to share, or if you have a question about ethics for one of our experts, please let us know by using the " connect link" on the program's website.

Why publish ethically? Some thoughts from the research community

"Without absolutely rigorous data and complete accuracy scientific inquiry cannot advance." - Laurie Calhoun, Librarian, USA

"Truth and reliability are the keystones of academic research. If the ethical bounds are breached then you get a false sense of progress which will do much more harm than good in the long run." - Norm Hutcherson, Librarian, California State University, Bakersfield, USA

"Graduate students and even many post docs often enter the world of scientific publishing without much guidance about ethics in publishing. Sometimes, they find out the hard way that their expectations aren't considered "ethical" by established scientists. Crystal clear, specific guidelines about publishing ethics would be a welcome addition to the training of the majority of graduate students, and, if effective, would minimize a lot of mental anguish and wasted time." - Samuel Flaxman, Assistant Professor, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA

To read more, visit

Author biographies

Dr. Inez van Korlaar

As Director of Project Management for STM Journals Marketing at
Elsevier, Inez van Korlaar is responsible for the global marketing
projects for the STM journals department, which includes outreach to
researchers in their role
as an author.

Linda Muskat RimAs a consultant to Elsevier, Linda Muskat Rim, worked closely with the
team to develop the Ethics in Research & Publication program. Linda
is principal of LMR Marcom, a communications practice specializing in
STM publishing, health advocacy, and pharmaceutical public relations.
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