Knowledge of Research and Publication Ethics in a Nigerian Medical College
Background: In academia, the aphorism 'publish or perish' is commonly used. The pressure to publish academic papers can sometimes lead researchers to engage in unethical practices in the conduct, reporting or publishing of their research works.
Objective: To assess the awareness and practices of ethical issues in the conduct, reporting, and publishing of research among academics.
Methods: The study was a descriptive, cross-sectional survey of the academic staff of a Nigerian medical college. A structured questionnaire was used to collect relevant information about publishing experience and observation of practices considered to be acts of research misconduct.
Results: A total of 94 out of 108 academics responded to the questionnaires giving a response rate of 87%. The commonest act of research misconduct reported by the respondents was plagiarism with an incidence rate of 25%. The incidence rates for awareness of data fabrication and falsification were 22% and 21% respectively. The proportions of respondents who were aware of gift and ghost authorship were 63% and 20% respectively. Only 41% of the respondents could recall all the criteria for authorship of an academic paper while 20% could not recollect any of the criteria.
Conclusion: Research misconduct and unethical publication practices are common observations among the respondents in this survey. It is recommended that researchers should familiarize themselves with the various ethical guidelines and requirements for authorship and agree on the sequence of the names of authors in the by-line of the proposed publication at the start of project work.
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