Write Right In the last issue of the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (AJSLP), I offered some tips for the new author on how to write a manuscript. In this issue, I turn to some of the many interesting ethical issues that relate to the writing process. See if you can ... Editorial
Editorial  |   August 01, 2005
Write Right
 
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Editorial
Editorial   |   August 01, 2005
Write Right
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2005, Vol. 14, 171. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2005/017)
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2005, Vol. 14, 171. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2005/017)
In the last issue of the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (AJSLP), I offered some tips for the new author on how to write a manuscript. In this issue, I turn to some of the many interesting ethical issues that relate to the writing process. See if you can answer the question at the end of each of the following scenarios (answers are provided in italics below):
  • Tanya Tom is an assistant professor working toward tenure and promotion. She has been busy writing and has submitted two manuscripts to high-quality journals (including AJSLP, of course!), and another is in the final stages of revision. In the meantime, Dr. Tom decides to protect herself by putting her submitted and in-review manuscripts on her Web site. She reasons that this will ensure that she receives credit for her ideas and discoveries immediately and that she will not run the risk of someone else claiming them before the manuscripts are published. Did she do the right thing?

  • Dr. Roger Moss has an active research program in aphasia, and as part of that research, he has developed a test for aphasia. He has recently published his test, and it is beginning to be marketed and sold. At the same time, Dr. Moss is just finishing up a study with two colleagues in which his test was included as one of the outcome measures. Originally, Dr. Moss had planned to be the third author on the manuscript; however, he has contacted his colleagues and told them that he should be removed as an author because he has a conflict of interest. Did he do the right thing?

  • Peggy's dissertation research consists of a series of three highly related experiments, designed to answer a single large question, and performed with the participation of the same group of subjects. Because she would like to have extra publications as she moves into her postdoctoral position, Peggy decides to write a separate manuscript for each of the experiments and submit them to different journals. She finds the writing difficult because the experiments are so interrelated, but she manages to pull it off. Did she do the right thing?

  • Dr. Macky is a frequent reviewer for several of the top journals in his field (including AJSLP, of course!). At the moment, he has five manuscripts on his desk to review. He decides to ask his doctoral students to help him write the reviews. This would not only help him finish his reviewing tasks, but it would also provide his students with a valuable training opportunity. Did he do the right thing?

  • Bernice Thatcher has finally gotten around to writing a manuscript based on data collected 5 years previously when she worked in Dr. Dalner's laboratory. She decides to do the writing herself, without telling Dr. Dalner (who had long ago given up on the possibility that she would ever finish this project). She plans to surprise him by listing him as the second author and sending him the final acceptance letter. Did she do the right thing?

  • No. Once the manuscripts are available on a Web site, they are considered published. This is why AJSLP asks that authors declare in the cover letter that their work has not been published elsewhere, including in electronic form.

  • Not necessarily. There was no ethical reason for Dr. Moss to remove himself as an author, as long as he declared his conflict of interest. In the case of AJSLP, all that is needed is a Disclosure Statement, which is printed along with the article so that readers are aware of the author's relation to the test. You can find an example of a Disclosure Statement in this issue of AJSLP (see the article by Masterson et al.).

  • No. This series of experiments was designed to answer a single, large question. In this case, the “least publishable unit” should include all the experiments. What Peggy has done is sometimes referred to as “pizza pie” research and is frowned on by the ethical scientific community.

  • No. A manuscript is considered a confidential document and is not to be shared with anyone else. AJSLP includes a statement to this effect in its instructions to reviewers.

  • No. It is unethical for someone to be listed as an author without full knowledge of the contents of the manuscript. For this reason, AJSLP requires that the contact author declare in the cover letter that all authors have made appropriate contributions to the manuscript and agree to its current form.

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