Accountability practices in research and publication ethics on the web. Linguistic and discursive features


With the large increase in the amount of published research being carried out throughout the world, potential is mounting for ethical practices to take a back seat in the apparent frequency of reported cases of scientific misconduct. While these cases erode the credibility of scientific research and public trust in the publication process, they often delineate accountabilities between conflicting parties and require organisational and institutional responses to good research practices based on fundamental, ethical principles of research integrity. In this paper, I explore the linguistic and discursive features of research and publication ethics in a representative corpus of misconduct cases as a genre created and maintained by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) organisation over its website. Using a combined framework of methodological perspectives from functionally-defined criteria of discourse and genre categorizations (Askehave, Swales 2001; Bhatia 2004; Swales 2004) alongside evaluation (Hunston, Thompson 2000) and stance-taking (Biber et al. 1999; Hyland 2005), this study looks at the discourse organisational structure of texts with identifiable communicative moves and associated language use to unveil the types of social actors’ relations and identities constructed through “Action”, “Representation” and “Identification” (Fairclough 2003) of the social events and practices in question via recontextualization and interdiscursivity (Bhatia 2004, 2017; Fairclough 2003; Sarangi, Brookers-Howell 2006). Linguistic and rhetorical choices made on recontextualized and representational features of text reveal how cases set the tone for accountability between the social actors (parties) involved in matters of research ethics, and how they allow the organisation to take responsibility for the integrity of their research conduct by fostering a climate of responsible practices and adjusting party accountabilities. Attending to both linguistic and discursive features, the communicative practices of the case genre authenticate the competing social relations, identities, values or interests of the parties in this kind of discourse representation, and align the institutional action, identity and values of the organisation with social norms when legitimising its commitment to create and preserve conditions for ethical principles and professional standards essential for a range of responsible practices of research publishing.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v34p231

Keywords: discourse and genre; accountability; ethics; research integrity


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