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Self-plagiarism? When re-purposing text may be ethically justifiable0

Posted by Admin in Research Integrity on January 19, 2019 / Keywords: , , ,
 

In an institutional environment where researchers may be coming under increasing pressure to publish, the temptations to take short cuts and engage in duplicate or redundant publication can be significant. Duplicate publication involves re-publishing substantially the same data, analysis, discussion and conclusion without providing proper acknowledgement or justification for the practice. Such behaviour is often condemned as ideoplagiarism or self-plagiarism, locating this practice as a parallel activity to that which appropriates other people’s ideas and words and reproduces them without due acknowledgement.

There are good reasons for censuring self-plagiarism – it distorts the academic record where meta-analyses are not aware of the duplicate publication, and provides an unfair advantage when academics’ track records are being compared. In an earlier publication (Israel, 2015), I detailed some examples of social scientists who engaged in self-plagiarism. However, I also argued that ‘It may be appropriate to publish similar articles in different journals in order to ask different research questions, link to different literatures or reach new and different audiences’ (p.163). I would like to explore some of the situations that I have encountered in the last few years where I believe re-use of text might not be inappropriate and, indeed, might actually be the ethical thing to do.

Global rankings and national assessments of universities are largely based on research inputs and outputs. Mostly, the output indicators privilege publications in international higher-ranking journals; the vast majority of those only publish in English. However, there are several good reasons why research outputs should also appear outside English-language journals. First, researchers may be funded by research councils from countries that are not Anglophone. Those research councils may indeed want to maximise their international impact by publishing in English. However, they may also recognise that they have an obligation to support researchers in their countries who are not fluent in English; indeed, they ought to be supporting the maintenance of their own languages and ensuring that scholarly discourse continues to be conducted in their native tongues. This is a policy supported by the National Committees for Research Ethics in Norway (2006), for example.

Second, researchers often have made a commitment to disseminate the results of their studies to participants or to policy-makers – where either of these communities are not English-speaking, republishing in a language other than English may be entirely appropriate.

So, revising a published paper and translating that into a language other than English might be a laudable way of preserving a research culture in a small language group, influencing policy-makers or returning a benefit to a low- or middle-income country (LMIC). This activity, of course, needs to be acknowledged and transparent and cannot be double-counted as a research output.

Following a roundtable discussion of social research ethics hosted by the University of Haifa, a chapter that I co-authored (Allen and Israel, 2017) was recently translated into Hebrew and published in an Israeli journal. Gary Allen and I a greed to do this in order to encourage further discussion of human research ethics in Israel. The decision was taken with the approval of our original editors and publishers.

In 2018, I co-authored an article on research ethics in Taiwan with a Taiwanese academic (Gan and Israel, in press). This will be published in Developing World Bioethics and we shall explore the possibility of modifying it for a Mandarin version aimed specifically at a readership of Taiwanese academics and policy-makers. While many senior Taiwanese academics are fluent in English, this is less likely to be the case among those who have not completed postgraduate qualifications in North America, Australasia or the United Kingdom. Publishing in Mandarin would extend access to our work (including allowing it to be found in a search using Traditional Chinese script), and may make it more readily available for undergraduate teaching. Sometimes, we can craft opportunities to help readers of other languages without translating the entire article. A recent article that I co-authored with Lisa Wynn (Wynn and Israel, 2018) took advantage of the American Anthropologist’s novel angle for each chapter when the briefs from commissioning editors are so similar policy of publishing all abstracts in both English and Spanish. At our request, the editors agreed to add abstracts in Arabic and French.

I wonder if fear of being seen as self-plagiarising also inhibits academics writing book chapters in research ecosystems where chapters do not count for much. I have repeatedly been invited to write chapters that give an overview of social research ethics. Initially, I tended to say yes. However, it is difficult to continually deliver a novel angle for such a chapter when the brief from the commissioning editor is so similar. I have collaborated with co-authors in order to develop new directions. However, sometimes this is not practicable and yet there may still be some value in repurposing existing text and tailoring it for a new audience. For a recent edited collection where I was invited to write a review of global regulation of human research ethics, the publishers as a matter of policy quite understandably challenged any article that relied on previously published work for more than ten per cent of its material. However, the editor had approached me looking for a synthesis of work that included, updated and condensed material that had already appeared in my single-authored book (Israel, 2015). I had raised the matter of overlapping text with him, and so he was able to persuade the publisher that a far larger fraction was warranted in this case. My book publisher also agreed.

I have not encountered much discussion of these matters in the published literature. But, I spend much of my time running professional development in research ethics. In these fora, I counsel researchers that when confronted by an ethical issue they ought to attempt to discern what might be an ethical response, act on that analysis and then publicly acknowledge and, where necessary, defend their actions.

There are several principles that might in some circumstances provide support for the argument that I have traced here. Of course, any strategy needs to be guided by the requirements of research integrity and so we should be citing and acknowledging any other work to which we refer appropriately and accurately (Researcher Responsibility 27, Australian Code, 2018).

The Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings (TRUST Project,2018) considers that fairness in research in low- and middle-income countries requires that:

Feedback about the findings of the research must be given to local communities and research participants. It should be provided in a way that is meaningful, appropriate and readily comprehended. (Article 3)

Similarly, the 2018 Australian Code places responsibility on researchers to ‘Disseminate research findings responsibly, accurately and broadly…’ (Research Responsibility 23). Any strategy should also be tested in Australia against the principles adopted by the National Statement (2007, updated 2018). In this context, the most pertinent of these are integrity, which would require honesty and commitment to recognised research principles, and justice which would require a fair distribution of the benefits of research. None of these codes or guidelines explicitly considers repurposing existing text, nor do they focus their discussion of dissemination on academic publications. Nevertheless, they do require us to consider what dissemination strategy might be most appropriate and this may well involve adapting and translating material for academic publication in order to reach new audiences.

So, here is my advice for those who are considering re-using text that they have previously published:

  1. Assess whether your reasons are ethically defensible;
  2. Seek the agreement of those involved in your first publication – co-authors, editors and publishers; in some cases, publishers will want a specific form of acknowledgement;
  3. Seek the agreement of those involved in the new publication that will be reproducing material – any co-authors, editors and publishers;
  4. Clearly acknowledge in the new publication that you are drawing on the earlier publication and do so with the agreement of the various parties, and
  5. Where it would be misleading not to do so, also note the relationship between publications in your CV and any job or grant applications.

References

Allen, G & Israel, M (2018) Moving beyond Regulatory Compliance: Building Institutional Support for Ethical Reflection in Research. In Iphofen, R & Tolich, M (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research Ethics. London: Sage. pp.276-288. Published in Hebrew as

גארי אלן ומארק ישראל 2018 מעבר לציות רגולטרי: בנית תמיכה מוסדית ברפלקציה אתית במחקר

The Study of Organizations and Human Resource Management Quarterly3(1). pp.16-30.

Gan, Z-R & Israel, M (in press) Transnational Policy Migration, Interdisciplinary Policy Transfer and Decolonization: Tracing the Patterns of Research Ethics Regulation in Taiwan. Developing World Bioethics.

Israel, M (2015) Research Ethics and Integrity for Social Scientists: Beyond Regulatory Compliance. London: Sage.

National Committees for Research Ethics in Norway (2006) Guidelines for Research Ethics in the Social Sciences, Law and the Humanities. Available at: https://www.etikkom.no/globalassets/documents/english-publications/guidelines-for-research-ethics-in-the-social-sciences-law-and-the-humanities-2006.pdf (accessed 15 January 2019).

National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council and Universities Australia (2007, updated 2018) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.Canberra. Available at: https://nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/national-statement-ethical-conduct-human-research-2007-updated-2018 (accessed 16 January 2019).

National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council and Universities Australia (2018) Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Canberra. Available at: https://nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/australian-code-responsible-conduct-research-2018 (accessed 16 January 2019).

TRUST Project (2018) Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings. Available at: http://www.globalcodeofconduct.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Global-Code-of-Conduct-Brochure.pdf (accessed 16 January 2019).

Wynn, LL & Israel, M (2018) The Fetishes of Consent: Signatures, Paper and Writing in Research Ethics Review. American Anthropologist 120(4) pp795–806.

Contributor
Dr Mark Israel, Senior Consultant AHRECS | Profile | mark.israel@ahrecs.com

This post may be cited as:
Israel, M. (20 January 2018) Self-plagiarism? When re-purposing text may be ethically justifiable. Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/research-integrity/self-plagiarism-when-re-purposing-text-may-be-ethically-justifiable

Consumer Co-design for End of Life Care Discharge Project0

 

In this issue, we are publishing an account of an end-of-life project in whose design there are some features that add to its ethical interest. Many of us are familiar with institutional policies about consumer engagement in human research and have served on project reference groups, but perhaps have less experience with the successful – and ethical – implementation of these. This project may add some valuable understanding of these matters, including:
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  • What insights do the design and information groups offer into the practice of research co-design?
  • Do those insights help to clarify the distinction between co-design and participatory action research?
  • Do those groups have advantages in demonstrating the project’s fulfilment of ethical principles of beneficence, respect or justice
  • Could those groups have a role in overseeing the ethical conduct of a project?
  • Given the subject of this research project, what sort of projects might make best use of groups such as those in this project?

We have invited the author and the research team to provide some follow-up reflection on issues such as these as the project progresses and is completed

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The End of Life Care Discharge Planning Project is led by Associate Professor Laurie Grealish from Griffith University. This research project partners with consumers at all stages, allowing consumers significant contribution. As part of the Queensland Health End of Life Care Strategy, Gold Coast Health is developing a process to support discharge for people near end of life who would like to die at home. A Productivity Commission Report in 2017 noted that although over 70% of Australians prefer to die at home, less than 10% do. This is attributed to the need for improvement in the transition between hospital and community care.

The outcomes of this study are expected to include: (1) an evidence-based discharge process and infrastructure to enhance the transition from hospital [medical wards] to home for end of life care; (2) end of life care information brochure for patients and their family carers; (3) stakeholder feedback to indicate that the process is feasible and satisfactory; and (4) a health service and non-government organisational partnership network to monitor the discharge process and enhance future integrated models of end of life care. Ethical approval has been granted by the Gold Coast Health Human Research Ethics Committee and Griffith University Human Research Ethics Committee.

For the research design stage, three groups were established: 1) Project reference group, 2) Project design group, and, 3) Project information group.

1. Project reference group – The aim of the project reference group is to consider the analysed data and reports from the sub-committees, provide advice on, as well as monitor, implementation strategies. This group is led by Associate Professor Laurie Grealish and has membership from a wide range of stakeholders including hospital clinicians and managers, researchers, community groups, non-government organisations and consumers.

2. Project design group – The purpose of this group is to design an evidence-based discharge process to enable people near the end of life to return home to die if this is their wish. Dr Kristen Ranse from Griffith University is the Chair of this group and the membership of the group includes representatives from Gold Coast Health, consumers, and non-government organisations.

3. Project information group – Led by Dr Joan Carlini from Griffith University, this group is to provide expert advice about what information people need as they consider dying at home. It was identified early by the group that there is an overwhelming amount of information available online and in brochures, leading to confusion. Since this group has stakeholders from a wide range of representatives from health care providers, nongovernment organisations, community groups as well as consumers, there has been a healthy generation of discussions. The consumers on the team led the way in selecting pertinent information and producing a draft document. This was then further modified by the committee, ensuring that the booklet is concise, but also a thorough source of information for end of life care.

The next stage of the project runs from Janulary to July 209, with implementation, data collection and anlaysis, and dissemination of finding.

Contributor
Dr. Joan Carlini, Lecturer, Department of Marketing, Griffith University | Griffith University profile, LinkedIn profile (log in required), Twitter – @joancarlini |

This post may be cited as:
Carlini, J. (18 January 2018) Consumer Co-design for End of Life Care Discharge Project. Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/human-research-ethics/consumer-co-design-for-end-of-life-care-discharge-project

New research integrity professional development resource0

 

All Australian research institutions that receive NHMRC or ARC research funding or otherwise operate under the auspices of Universities Australia should be steadily working toward implementing the 2018 version of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Researchby 30 June 2019.

We’d argue that all other Australian research institutions should also be working on implementation.

Australian Code (2018) template ppt, over 40 short audio clips, activity sheet and facilitator notes – https://www.patreon.com/posts/23800537

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Suggested audio snippets for the slides
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Embedded audio# about the suite of workshop resources about the Australian Code (2018)
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Sample audio snippet# from the >40 audio clips

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# To listen to the embedded audio by Mark Israel, download the ppts. View the slides that have an audio speaker icon. Click the icon and press play

As you will have seen from the countdown on the AHRECS website, we’re down to the last 50% of the time to implement the Australian Code (2018). We understand that in many institutions research staff and management are stretched and that the recent cuts in research infrastructure funding will do little to help that. We are not trying to provoke panic or undue stress, but believe that a commitment to research integrity (like research ethics) involves long-term, consistent and coherent planning and investment and not erratic and unsustained bursts of ‘excitement’. Those institutions that are still struggling with the 2007 Code should see that as an indication that they need to take the 2018 Code seriously and not hope that its demands will go away.
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Awareness-raising and professional development are effective ways to implement the Australian Code (2018) and invest in the research culture of an institution.
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To assist our patrons, we’ve come up with a cost-effective resource.

Gold Patrons can now download at no charge:

  1. A template for a workshop for HDR candidates and other early career researchers (to be delivered by a member of your staff) about the Australian Code (2018) and research integrity in general.
  2. Over 40 audio clips by Dr Mark Israel that can either played within the above workshop or placed on a resource page for access by your research community.
  3. A group activity sheet of nine vignettes, that are based on real cases.

(1) and (3) are supplied with facilitator notes.

Included with this post is a sheet that suggests which audio clips to use with each slide of the ppt.  The sheet is included with the resources discussed in this post. Also included here is a PowerPoint with an embedded audio clip about the resource.

It only costs USD15/month to become a Gold Patron. Visit https://www.patreon.com/ahrecs to become a patron and for more information.

Of course, AHRECS would be delighted to run such workshops for and with you and to support the development of policy and procedures in your institution that would meet the requirements of the 2018 Australian Code.  See https://ahrecs.com/australiancode2018 for further information about the ways AHRECS can assist you with implementation.

Contributor
Mark Israel, AHRECS Senior Consultant | AHRECS profilemark.israel@ahrecs.com

This post may be cited as:
Israel, M. (9 January 2018) New research integrity professional development resource. Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/research-integrity/new-research-integrity-professional-development-resource

Ten ways of ensuring affordable professional development in your institution0

 

Research institutions have a responsibility under the Australian Code to ‘Provide ongoing training and education that promotes and supports responsible research conduct for all researchers and those in other relevant roles’ (Responsibility 4). Among other things, the National Statement requires that each member of an HREC (National Statement 5.2.3c) receives professional development.

Some institutions may feel that this places a significant burden on the staff responsible for and the funds available for human research ethics and integrity. It won’t surprise you to hear that AHRECS thinks it can help.

1. We have created an expanding suite of professional development resources for subscribers in Patreon. Many of our clients are happy for us to share materials that have been developed for their specific needs once they have had first use, knowing that they will also benefit from the generosity of our other clients as part of a community of practice. A subscription of USD15 per month (approx. AUD20) enables access to all materials; these can then be shared across your institution. You can see two examples of the resources here. See https://www.patreon.com/ahrecs  for more information and to subscribe.

2. AHRECS runs free webinars of panel-based discussions on pressing matters of general interest. Over the last year, speakers from the NHMRC, AHEC, AHRECS and various HRECs have spoken about how to respond to the new Australian Code and the changes to the National Statement.

3. AHRECS can provide face-to-face workshops of up to a day for HRECs, research ethics advisors, groups of researchers and professional staff. We’ve been doing this for CSIRO for over a decade. We also pre-record in-meeting professional development for HRECs across the country, supplementing these video resources with video-conferenced question and answer sessions. Our offerings in this regard start from $900 for the in-meeting activities to $2300 for a full day on-site workshop. Contents and format can be tailored to your institution’s specific needs.

4. AHRECS publishes the free Research Ethics Monthly. As readers know, REM includes topical items relating to human research ethics and research integrity. Your staff could also draw on their experience to contribute to REM as a way of engaging with and receiving feedback from the broader Australasian research ethics community.

5. Institutions could make greater use of their researchers who engage thoughtfully with research ethics matters. HRECs could invite them to speak about ethics at one of their meetings, and record this to create a library of video materials. AHRECS would be happy to host and share these materials across the sector.

6. AHRECS can provide either mentoring or on-call advice to human research ethics/research integrity officers, secretaries, chairs or senior research leaders via email, phone or video-link (this complements in-house expertise and provides affordable access to decades of human research ethics/research integrity experience)

7. We are happy to recommend purchasing the Griffith University Research Ethics Manual which, at $10,000 allows you to gain access to about two years-worth of resource development in human research ethics. AHRECS doesn’t receive any financial benefit from this#, but we can covert the GUREM to a resource that reflects the jurisdictional and institutional contexts within which your researchers operate. Over the last year, we’ve completed this work for ECU and have created video resources to help researchers make best use of the research ethics manual.

8. AHRECS can run a full Masters unit on social research ethics. We deliver this as an intensive each year in Perth in partnership with the University of Western Australia.

9. Institutions can designate a policy officer responsible for reviewing and disseminating relevant news, industry and professional websites, using Google alerts and research output monitoring to collect material of potential interest/value to the University’s research ethics reviewers, REAs and/or researchers. Some of this work is already done by AHRECS for anyone subscribing to its free news service. The vast majority of links are either directly relevant to Australia or are otherwise of interest to the Australian research ethics community. When items are added, an alert+link is posted to our social media pages (LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook).

10. Ten sounds so much better than nine, doesn’t it? If you have a crash-hot idea about professional development that you want to share with other people in the sector, please suggest a piece for Research Ethics Monthly.

# Dr Gary Allen is the principal author of the GUREM so does receive a component of the license fee.

Contributor
Mark Israel, AHRECS Senior Consultant
Mark’s profilemark.israel@ahrecs.com

Israel, M. (21 December 2018) Ten ways of ensuring affordable professional development in your institution (2018). Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/ahrecs-admin/ten-ways-of-ensuring-affordable-professional-development-in-your-institution

 

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