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The ethics of scientific writing - How to write and how not to write a paper

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Published on Feb 18, 2016

Gary D. Christian
Emeritus Professor - Department of Chemistry,
University of Washington, Seattle, USA

Scientific writing for peer-reviewed journals is how scientists communicate
their work to the world. It is important to tell a clear and compelling story,
beginning with justification for the work, placing it in the context of prior work,
and its significance in advancing the field, i.e., what problem is being
addressed? Manuscripts are submitted to peer-review by experts, selected by the
editor. Only a select number will be published, depending on novelty,
significance to the field, demonstrated applicability, appropriateness for the
journal, and so forth. Peer-review is for the benefit of the author as well as for
the editor, and helps improve the quality and impact of the paper. Ethics in
publication is of paramount importance, and has become more of an issue for
editors in recent years, particularly with the advent of the electronic age.
I will relay my experiences as an Editor-in-Chief for Talanta over some twenty
five years, providing guidance on how to structure and present a paper so
editors, reviewers and readers will have a good understanding of your
accomplishments, and pitfalls to avoid. Real-world examples of manuscripts
that do not follow established and ethical guidelines will be given, along with
cases of outright scientific fraud in the chemical literature. And hints will be
given of how authors can use peer review to their advantage.

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