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Writing a Scientific Paper III. Ethical Aspects

  • C. Sterken (a1)


The main theme of this paper is truthful communication of scientific results. Therefore, concepts of truth, error, quality and value are elaborated.

The following bibliometric parameters are explained: the journal impact factor, the journal cited half-life, and the journal immediacy index, as well as paper counts, citation rates, citation index and the Hirsch index. These bibliometric indices and indicators are illustrated with examples derived from bibliometric analyses of the astronomical literature.

Scientific misconduct in the broadest sense is discussed by category: researcher misconduct, author misconduct, referee and grant-reviewer misconduct. But also publisher misconduct, editorial misconduct and mismanagement, and research supervisor misbehavior are dealt with. The overall signatures of scientific misconduct are focused on, as well as the causes and the cures. This is followed by a Section devoted to whistleblowing.

The biases of bibliometric indices, and the use and abuse of bibliometrics are illustrated. Moreover, suggestions for remediating the present defective system of bibliometric measurement and evaluation are worked out. Finally, the hopes and concerns of our students – either expressed during or after the lectures, or through subsequent private contacts – are passed on.



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