Text & Integrity (Introduction)

Text is ubiquitous in the academic world, including in the natural sciences, where some scholars characterise the descriptions in articles as mere advertising for the real results in labs or databases. Nonetheless verbal descriptions still matter. Citations in academic papers have themselves become an industry, and some universities use citation counts as a factor in hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions. This has tempted some people to increase their citation count by citing themselves frequently, sometimes arguing that they want to avoid self-plagiarism this way. Plagiarism itself has become a widely discussed topic with commercial software systems to discover plagiarism, and with people who set strict rules about copying for cases that once represented a legitimate reuse of the language of a topic. Actual plagiarism is an ethical and potentially a copyright issue, but even serious copying does far less damage to the fabric of scholarship than data falsification.


The drive to publish has created a market for predatory journals. These journals charge for publishing through Article Processing Charges (APCs), and attract authors by promising fast turnaround via an abbreviated or entirely fake review process. The contents of these publications are not necessarily false, but they have skipped the benefit of a review process meant to catch errors and to detect untruths.


At the other end of the spectrum is censorship, which takes a variety of forms. Sometimes it involves local governments rejecting texts for libraries or schools, and sometimes it becomes a ban on works that express unwanted viewpoints or opinions. Not all forms of censorship are bad, such as those that restrict incitement to violence and hate-crimes, but it can also affect information about, for example, evolution, or lead to a ban on novels.


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