Is self-plagiarism ethical?

Research papers or journals are the medium of spreading knowledge and new ideas evolved. Innovative and original piece of work would certainly be more educative and admirable. Nevertheless, authors and writers are often found to be reusing their old piece of work or some extracts from their previous published papers while writing a new research paper.

When questions are raised against this content reuse, authors claim that those stuffs are their own works and materials, and thus, they can reuse them as they wish, and it cannot be termed as plagiarism since they have not stolen the ideas from any other author or source.

The ethics of plagiarism are not applicable to such reuse, as a result of which it has been overlooked till date. While the discussion is whether this reuse is ethical or not, the publications and the journals, on the other hand, have set certain guidelines for such works citing it as Self-plagiarism.

What is self-plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism is a form of plagiarism where the writer reuses his/her own previously published work in portions or entirely while creating a new study paper. It can breach the publisher’s copyright on those published work when it is reused in the new study papers without appropriate citations. Let us now know more about the ethical aspects of self-plagiarism.

Self-plagiarism can be detected when:

a)  A published paper is used to republish elsewhere without the consent of the co-authors and the publisher of the paper or work.

b)  A paper of a large study is published in small sections with an intention to increase the number of publications.

c)  A previously written work either published or not is reused again in portions in the new study papers.

Although the laws of self-plagiarism are not enforced, it somehow reflects the dishonesty of the author. Moreover, the journals and the publishers are rejecting such copy-paste works as they are seeking writings based on original research findings and proper citations of all the references.

Nowadays, journals are also pointing out questions on the reuse of one’s own work. In order to avoid self-plagiarism, one should try to keep his/her work original, and in case it is necessary to include any portion from his/her previous works, it should be then properly cited with proper references. I hope this article will surely help you in detecting prospective self-plagiarism before submitting your paper or work to publications or journals.

Improve the Readability of Your Writing

It was less complicated writing in school and colleges for our assignment or project. However, writing for the real world is different. People don’t go to any blog, sales page, or website to just read, but to get the information. That means they need the substance to be as effectively to ingest as could be expected under the circumstances. In the event that they could infuse it Matrix-style into their mind, they might. In any case, since that is not a choice yet, you need to make it as simple as could be expected under the circumstances for them to peruse. In this way, how about we begin by basically following the below given tips.

The present article on “Improve the Readability of Your Writing” provides some basic tips that every writer should follow in order to enhance the readability of their writings.

Tips to Improve the Readability of Your Writing

1. Make short sentences

Ensure to make your sentences short, particularly, the first. Short sentences drastically improve response. There is simply something about a short and simple to read sentence that attracts the readers and urges them to continue reading.

2. Use short paragraphs

In case you are a copywriter or any kind of online writer, you have to split your paragraphs. Preferably, this means keeping them to one to three sentences in maximum. It may seem odd the first time you attempt it. However, once you begin doing it, you will figure out how to love it.

3. Use subheadings

Try to use subheadings. Subheadings make your composition searchable. They make it so that even if the reader declines to read the whole article, they will get a general idea of what the content is about. Envision your subheadings like miniature headings. They ought to attract the reader and provide them a synopsis of what’s in store. They ought to propelling and educational, and keep your reader moving along through your writing. Ensure to use subheadings each 3–5 passages while writing online content.

4. Use bulleted lists

Readers love points and lists. Lists are easy to read, and easy to search. They provide a great deal of data rapidly. They also offer a visual break to your reader, since they seem not quite the same as whatever is left of your content. Essentially, lists and points make your writing more attractive. Try to use them wherever applicable.

5. Analysis it

What’s the most ideal approach to know the accurate decipherability of your writing? Test it. There are many distinctive approaches to do this. However, one of the most efficient ways is the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score. This test uses a numerical equation to evaluate the average number of syllables per word and the average number of words per sentence for a 100-word piece of content. Results for the Flesch-Kinkaid Reading Ease score are measured on a scale of 1 to 100 (1 being exceptionally hard and 100 being most simple to comprehend). Most copywriters and online writers ought to strive for the 60–70 range. Moreover, if you need a second basic approach to test readability of your content, try the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score out. In view of evaluation levels from 0 to 12 (0 being the least and 12 being the greatest), this test evaluates syllables and sentence length.

By following the above given tips to improve the readability of your writing, you can easily learn to improve the readability and clarity of your writings. However, this needs patience and regular practice.

Analytical Study Designs in Medical Research

In medical research, it is important for a researcher to know about different analytical studies. The objectives of different analytical studies are different, and each study aims to determine different aspects of a disease(s) such as prevalence, incidence, cause, prognosis, or effect of treatment. Therefore, it is essential to identify the appropriate analytical study associated with certain objectives. Analytical studies are classified as experimental and observational studies. While in an experimental study, the investigator examines the effect of presence or absence of  certain intervention(s), he does not need to intervene in a observational study, rather he observes and assesses the  relation between exposure and disease variable. Interventional studies or clinical trials fall under the category of experimental study where investigator assigns the exposure status. Observational studies are of four types: cohort studies, case-control studies, cross-sectional studies, and longitudinal studies

Classification of Analytical studies

While experimental studies are sometimes non indicative or not ethical to conduct or very expensive, observational studies probably are the next best approach to answer certain investigative questions. Well-designed observational studies may also produce similar results as controlled trials; therefore, probably, the observational studies may not be considered as second best options. In order to design an appropriate observational study, one should able to distinguish between four different observational studies and their appropriate application depending on the investigative questions. Following is a brief discussion on four different observational studies (each will be discussed in detail individually in my upcoming blogs):

 

Observational Analytical Study Designs

Cohort studies

Cohort methodology is one of the main tools of analytical epidemiological research. The word “cohort” is derived from the Latin word “cohors” meaning unit. The word was adopted in epidemiology to refer a set of people monitored for a period of time. In modern epidemiology, the word is now defined as “group of people with defined characteristics who are followed up to determine incidence of, or mortality from, some specific disease, all causes of death, or some other outcome” (Morabia, 2004). In cohort studies, individuals are identified who initially do not have the outcome of interest and followed for a period of time. The group can be classified in sub sets on the basis of the exposure. For example, a group of people can be identified consisting of both smoker and non-smoker and followed them for the incidence of lung cancer. At the beginning of the study none of the individuals have lung-cancer and the individuals are grouped into two sub sets as smoker and non-smoker and then followed for a period of time for different characteristics of exposure such as smoking, BMI, eating habits, exercise habits, family history of lung cancer or cardiovascular diseases, etc. Over the time, some individuals develop the outcome of interest. From the data collected over time, it is convenient to evaluate the hypothesis whether smoking is related with the incidence of lung cancer. The following schematic shows the basic design of a cohort study. There are two types of cohort studies: prospective and retrospective. A prospective study is conducted at present but followed up to future i.e., waiting for the disease to develop. On the other hand, a retrospective study is carried out at present on the data collected in the past. This is also called as historic cohort study. In the next blog, I will discuss these in detail.

Design of a Cohort study

Case-control studies

In terms of objective, case-control studies and cohort studies are same. Both are observational analytical studies, which aim to investigate the association between exposure and outcome. The difference lies in the sampling strategy. While cohort studies identify the subjects based on the exposure status, case-control studies identify the subjects based on the outcome status. Once the outcome status is identified the subjects are divided into two sets: case and control (who do not develop the outcome). For example, a study design which determines the relation between endrometrial cancer with use of conjugated estrogen. For this study, subjects are chosen based on the outcome status (endrometrium cancer) i.e., with disease present (case) and absent (control), and then these two subsets are compared with respect to the exposure (use of conjugated estrogen). Therefore, case-control study is retrospective in nature and cannot be used for calculating relative risk. However, odd ratio can be measured, which in turn, is approximate to relative risk. In cases of rare outcomes, case control study is probably the only feasible analytical study approach.

Design of a Case-Control Study

Cross-sectional studies

Cross-sectional study is a type of observational analytical study which is used primarily to determine the prevalence without manipulating the study environment. For example, a study can be designed to determine the cholesterol level in walker and non-walker without exerting any exercise regime or activity on non-walkers or modifying the activity of the walkers. Apart from cholesterol other characteristics of interest, such as age, gender, food habits, educational level, occupation, income, etc., can also be measured. The data collected at one time in present with no further follow up. In cross-sectional design, one can study a single population (only walkers) or more than one population (both walker and non-walker) at one point of time to see the association between cholesterol level and walking. However, the design of this study does not allow to examine the causal of a certain condition since the subjects are never been followed either in past or present. 

Design of a Cross-Sectional Study

Longitudinal studies

Longitudinal studies, similar to cross-sectional studies, are also a type of observational analytical studies. However, the difference of this study design with the cross-sectional study is the following up the subjects for a longer time; hence, can contribute more to the association of causative to a condition. For example, the design that aims to determine the cholesterol level of a single population, say the walkers over a period of time along with some other characteristics of interest such as age, gender, food habits, educational level, occupation, income, etc. One may choose to examine the pattern of cholesterol level in men aged 35 years walking daily for 10 years. The cholesterol level is measured at the onset of the activity (here, walking) and followed up throughout the defined time period, which enables to detect any change or development in the characteristics of the population.

Following two tables summarize different observational analytical studies with regard to the objectives and time-frame.

Fig5

I will define several terms, such as risk factor, odd ratio, probability, confounding factors, etc., related to study designs along with the detail discussion on individual analytical study design and tips to choose correct design depending on the research question in my upcoming blogs. Visit the blog section of the website (www.manuscriptedit.com) for more such informative and educative topics. 

References

[1] Morabia, A (2004). A History of Epidemiologic Methods and Concepts. Birkhaeuser Verlag; Basel: p. 1-405.

[2] Hulley, S.B., Cummings, S.R., Browner, W.S., et al (2001). Designing Clinical Research: An Epidemiologic Approach. 2nd Ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; Philadelphia: p. 1-336.

[3] Merril, R.M., Timmreck, T.C (2006).  Introduction to Epidemiology. 4th Ed. Jones and Bartlett Publishers; Mississauga, Ontario: p. 1-342.

[4] Lilienfeld, A.M., and Lilienfeld, D.E. (1980): Foundations of Epidemiology. Oxford University Press, London.

SEO Content Writing

Search engine optimisation or SEO content writing is not just an application to be used for the website, but it can be used for various other benefits as well. In a broad sense, SEO tools can be used in many different ways in order to promote websites, businesses, and products and services. In fact, one will be completely astonished at all the ways in which these services can be useful.

The present article on “SEO content writing” gives the fundamental ways to use SEO content writing and SEO tools. It also provides detailed information on why to use the services of SEO content writing.

Ways to use SEO Content Writing

Firstly, SEO content writing can be definitely used for websites. Organic search engine optimisation (Organic SEO) is significant for getting in the search engine records at a high position and compelling visitors to the website. Simultaneously, it is necessary for the content to be appealing, fascinating and instructive for the readers. Consequently, the visitors will be tempted to hang on to your website long enough to possibly buy services and/or products, or at least ask for some extra information. Hence, SEO content writing can be certainly used for improving the content of a website.

Secondly, SEO content writing can also be used for blogs for similar reasons as discussed above. Blogs are a great way to endorse businesses, develop brand appreciation and representation, as well as increase visitors to the main website. For this purpose, we have to use the same SEO procedures for our blogs that we would have used for the main website. Ensure that the blogs are mostly instructive in nature. Besides, they must be connected to your main website as a source for extra information, useful products or services.

Thirdly, SEO content writing can be employed for internet marketing purposes. One expects that anything he/she posts on the internet utilises organic SEO so that they have as many positive connections to their website as possible, and as a result receive plenty of hits in the search engines on different websites and advertising methods. The most general manner by which these services can be used for internet marketing is through article marketing. Instructive articles are written about products, services, company, and/or industry. Then, these articles are posted into article listings, where they get arranged in the search engines. The articles have a link connecting them back to the main website in order to increase visitors. Meanwhile, people come across the content and get to know about the company/brand in a positive light, thus increasing business.

On the whole, there are several other ways in which SEO content writing can assist in our dealings. The only limitation is our own imagination. Gradually, you will realise that the more SEO content you put on the website, the more successful your company will develop into. Therefore, utilise these services as much as possible, and be surprised at the outcomes you will accomplish.

Peer Review Mechanism

Many of us have often come across the terms “peer review”, “peer-reviewed journal” or “peer-reviewed paper” at some or the other point of time. But, how many of us know what exactly the term “peer review” refers to or what the “peer review process” is all about? Let us discuss this key aspect of the research process.

According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), peer review is the critical assessment of manuscripts submitted to journals by experts who are not part of the editorial staff. Peer review, which is also known as refereeing, has become an inevitable part of the quality control process, which determines whether a paper is worth publishing/funding or not.

The origin of peer review often dates back to 18th century Britain. However, it became a key part of the research process only in the second half of the 20th century, triggered by the growth of scholarly research. As the reviewers are specialized in the same field as the author, they are considered to be the author’s peers; hence, it was coined as “peer review”.

Peer Review Process

The author submits the paper to the respective journal. The Journal Editor forwards that paper to experts (reviewers) in the relevant field. These reviewers thoroughly analyze the quality of the paper, validity of the data and methods used, and the accuracy of the results. They provide their judgment on the paper whether: there is scope for improvement, it is ok as it is, or it is not worth publishing. If there are changes to be made in the paper, the reviewers list in their comments the particular areas that have scope for improvement. Then the paper is returned to the Journal Editor who sends it to the author with the appropriate decision: accepted as it is; accepted with revisions; or rejected. Accordingly, the author makes the changes and resubmits to the same journal, or resubmits to another journal.

Types of Peer Review

Peer review can be classified into three types based on the levels of transparency:

Single-blind review: In this case, the author’s identity is known to the reviewers, but not vice versa.

Double-blind review: In this case, the identities of the author and reviewers are hidden from each other.

Open peer review: Here, the author’s and reviewers’ identities are known to each other.

At present, the peer review process is implemented by a majority of scientific journals. It helps to prevent falsified work from being published. Its importance has become such that, most research are not considered to be serious stuff unless they have been validated by peer review. A peer-reviewed paper that is accepted for publication is looked upon as a work of quality. But, this process has its own disadvantages. It is an extremely time-consuming process. The long wait can be extremely frustrating for the researcher and can even jeopardize his academic progress. Moreover, sometimes the element of bias creeps into the peer review process. The reviewers’ judgment might be influenced by their own perception of things, the identity of the author, and at times, even the country of origin of the author.

Concept of Medical Writing

Medical writing is quite different compared to other kinds of professional writings. The concept of medical writing involves writing different types of scientific documents relating to research, disease- or drug-related promotional content, journal articles for publication, and content for websites, magazines or news focused on health care.

Doing adequate research is the most vital aspect of medical content writing. You also need to have knowledge of terminology from various fields. Apart from that, the points discussed below will help you to get a basic idea of how to go about it.

Tips for Medical Writing

  • The purpose of medical writing is to convey the medical information to the readers in an easily understandable way. Therefore, the information that you present should be target-specific, i.e., it should be presented to suit the level of understanding of the target readers who may be general public, patients, or medical professionals.
  • Medical writing has a serious aspect to it as people will take crucial decisions based on what they read. So, you need to present your facts correctly. You have to do considerable research before you write. While doing so, ensure that you gather information only from trusted sources.
  • If you are writing content for a website, the tone of your writing should be conversational. The sentences should be short and to the point.
  • Remember that your readers will not be only medical professionals. People might face difficulties in understanding medical terms. Explain the complex medical terms and procedures in as simple a way as possible.
  • The visual setting of the article is also very important. So, your content should be properly structured. Include subheadings and bulleted/numbered lists wherever possible.
  • There should be no grammatical mistakes in your content. For ex: A misplaced punctuation might seem to be a trivial thing, but it is enough to change the meaning of a sentence altogether.

Due to the rise in the number of medical and research organisations, the significance of medical writing has also gone up. There is considerable demand for well written and well-organized content that can be easily understood by all.