Ethics in Medical Writing

In this section, we guide you through some of the ethical principles you must bear in mind through the process of writing and submitting your paper to the journal. 

Ethics are guiding principles. The study itself must be carried out in an ethical manner. Writing too, involves following ethical principles. Getting published entails responsibility. 

Do not get carried away by number of publications
  • You might have heard your professor say that your PhD thesis can be published as a research paper, or that the data you have collected is valuable and can be presented as research papers. However, in the eagerness to publish, do not get into number of publications. 
  • Focus on the quality of publication. It is better to write one high quality paper than three mediocre ones. Resist the temptation to break your paper into several pieces when one paper should be good to convey what you want.
Beware of duplication
  • When you publish something that has already been published, it is redundant or duplicate. Review of literature plays an important role in ensuring you do not duplicate what has already been published. 
  • Again, with the emphasis on publishing, you might be tempted to submit your published paper to another journal, either as is, or by making some minor changes. This is unethical. It does not in any way contribute to existing literature. Remember, you can send your paper only to a single journal. Only if it is rejected can you send it to another journal.
Make sure your study design is strong
  • Journals receive several publications, from which they choose a handful. One of the reasons for rejecting papers is the inability to answer the question posed. Although the structure of the paper may be as prescribed, and the content interesting, the very purpose of your paper is defeated if it does not provide an answer to the question that made you write the paper in the first place. Ensure that your study design is strong and answers the question you pose.