Writing with Integrity

Reflect on your own research practices

  • Where did you learn how to appropriately reference previous work?
  • How do you keep track of the various ideas that inform your thinking?
  • What additional resources and support can you seek to support integrity in your writing?

When writing in research, we should take extra care to ensure that the process and product of a researcher’s intellectual contributions are accurately represented, including completely referencing all published and unpublished work that we use, including our own.

Superficially modifying or failing to fully acknowledge the source of borrowed material constitutes a serious form of scholarly misconduct. The consequence of this type of deception can include the journal retracting the article, the researcher losing access to research funding, or being expelled from the university.

Truthfully and effectively communicating the context, complexity and impact of our research is paramount for building public trust and support for our work.



Include sufficient details in the written product

Research builds on and refines previous knowledge, which is heavily dependent on the quality and integrity of previous work. Therefore, you not only need to include sufficient details to enable others to replicate your work, but you should also provide a rationale for any changes to the research plan, report evidence contrary to the conclusions and make explicit the limitations of the research as well as the references cited that support your work.

Consider the impact of your citations

Decisions around who and what to cite in your work can have important implications on your field and research as a whole.  Including certain sources over others can raise the cited researcher’s profile, the journal’s impact factor and our credibility. Referencing responsibly enables others to more fully assess, critique, build upon or correct our intellectual contributions. We have a responsibility to be transparent by providing appropriate context and the rationale for which sources we included.

Seek resources to develop your writing skills

We must continually develop our writing skills throughout our careers. Read widely and seek support to develop and hone your skills to increase the accessibility of your writing, properly use citations that augment your work, and help others extend your thinking. You may wish to access the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication at UBC Vancouver, the Centre for Scholarly Communication at UBC Okanagan, or to speak with a librarian at either campus about how their tools and resources can support you to develop your writing skills.


Feeling crunched for time

With competing commitments and responsibilities, it can feel like you’re often pressed for time. It may be tempting to reuse our existing content in a grant application, to rely on an abstract when citing the full published article or to paraphrase published reviews instead of reviewing the literature. Plan for and give yourself enough time to produce writing that is clear, fair, accurate and honest— learning to better manage your time not only helps to reduce your stress, but also helps you to adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct.

Carelessly citing sources

Technology has made it easy to consult numerous sources throughout the research process, to copy/paste excerpts and to take for granted the usefulness and accuracy of reference management tools. However, we can’t rely on technology to make up for our disorganization and carelessness. Take careful notes of the ideas and source materials that inform your thinking and always review for accuracy and completeness.


Unintentionally infringing copyright

In Canada, the expression of ideas, concepts or themes receives automatic copyright when they are created. Copyright is legally protected and infringement could result in monetary penalties or legal action from the copyright owner. If you’re unsure of the limitations and rules of copyright, seek help from a peer, mentor or the UBC Library to understand how you can protect against unintentional copyright infringement.


 Did You Know?

As you build on the work of others and even your own previous research, it’s possible to unknowingly violate copyright. For example, you may need to seek permission from the copyright owners to use material such as images, recordings and graphs in your writing, even if they were used in your own published work. 

Furthermore, when preparing to publish you should seek to understand the implications of transferring the copyright of your work to journals, which can lead to accidental infringement in later publications.


Continue to Authorship & Publishing


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