Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Integrity Responsibilities of an Author

Integrity in writing books or articles is a subject which must be engrained in everything a writer/author generates. It is important not only for an author’s reputation but also the perception that he/she is operating within the boundaries of integrity. When writing a book, the author must assure that he/she has all the required permissions involved in sources of information being used. This involves information which is copyrighted by other individuals, organizations or websites. When material is included in a book an author must make sure in his/her research that using information does not violate any copyright or guidelines in place from the source.

One exception to this is where the information is in the public domain. This condition must be verified however, before use and/or publication of any book or article. Information in the public domain can typically be used in a book environment. However, information at the source site must be reviewed for any guidelines/limitations in place. Sometimes even public information may have limitations and the guidelines must be followed to avoid violating any conditions for use. It is important to note that if there is a question on the requirements for use, the website should be contacted. Establishing written permission is a critical component to having documentation to validate the integrity in the collection and writing of any book. Getting verbal permission does not provide proof of permission, especially if there are any questions in the future.

Sometimes sites with information in the public or private domain freely allow the use of information within guidelines. An author must make sure using information involving any guidelines in place does not violate those conditions. In my book Integrity: Do You Have It? 2nd edition, ISBN 0741429160 I used both public and private information. In my book several sources of information was used. I contacted sources to obtain permission for use. This should always be done especially if there are any questions on permission guidelines. In one particular case I had to sign a contract. In other cases there were guidelines imposed on sites and when the information was used I made sure that the limits were not violated.

Writing an article is another aspect of being a writer/author. The content of an article must not violate the copyright rules if the information was previously posted. We as writers/authors must make sure that we do not violate copyright conditions and do not try to display information by other individuals as our own. This also involves plagiarism which involves taking an article by another individual and changing the words and exhibiting the information as your own.

One exception to the requirements above involves the fact that we as individuals and writers/authors are allowed to look at the content of an article and comment on the information and any conclusions made. We have a right to our express our opinion. This is true as long as what we say is complete and accurate. We cannot make statements that have not been validated to be true associated with any individual or organization.

In summary when a writer/author uses any information it must be a matter of principle to obtain written permission of another individual, organization or web site. This is especially true if it is unclear as to the need for obtaining permission. We also should not rewrite articles and pass on the information as our own. We are allowed to make comments on the information and/or conclusions on the information previously written. It is important in making comments that we do not make statements that are either untrue or have not be verified for accuracy and completeness. Integrity is an important subject and can destroy a writer/author’s career if it is determined that the principles of honesty, completeness and accuracy are not present in the content of any books and articles written.


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