Avoid ambiguities and double meanings

Unlike creative writing in the liberal arts, scientific communication does not allow readers to interpret words as they choose. Read your sentences carefully, and be sure you are not misdirecting readers through ambiguities or double meanings. Even though technical or legal experts could interpret them as accurate, the use of various abstract words, jargon, and euphemisms is unethical when they are used to mislead readers or to hide a serious or dangerous situation. Governmental groups and politicians are infamous for such cover-ups. Scientific writers should occupy ethically higher ground.

Check again for plagiarism

What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing, he knew nobody had said it before.

- Mark Twain

You've probably been warned about plagiarism ever since you began writing. In its simplest definition, plagiarism is the act of taking words or ideas that someone else has written and trying to present them as one's own. Examples encompass everything from buying term papers on the Internet to patching together a thesis introduction from unattributed sentences lifted from various publications.

Drawn from the Latin word for "kidnapping," plagiarism is viewed as a very serious offense all across academia. Almost every writing book denounces it heatedly, variously describing it as illegal, unethical, immoral, or intellectually lazy (Buranen and Roy, 1999). However, perhaps nowhere is the issue of plagiarism (and the related issue of falsified data) taken as seriously as it is in science. People seemingly are willing to accept deception in politics and entertainment, and most buy into fantasy without blinking. However, almost everyone agrees that science must be held to a higher standard, because authenticity and accuracy are the foundation upon which it must stand.

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