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Presenting and disseminating findings

Presenting research is what happens when you are sharing information with people who can see and/or hear you in real time; disseminating research is what happens beyond your view. Presentations could occur, for example, at conferences, in workplaces, in communities, or via webinars. Dissemination may be through the mainstream media or social media; conventional or self-publishing; written, audio or video; online or in hard copy. Presentation and dissemination are ethical acts in themselves because it is ethical to consider how and when to share findings and knowledge generated from research.


The proper use of citation – referencing the work of other scholars and researchers – is key to research integrity. It is vital to transparency – recognising and acknowledging the prior work of others, supporting one’s own argument and giving credit where it is due. However, citation manipulation is a form of research misconduct. Excessive self-citation, gaming journal metrics to increase impact, stacking citations to make evidence for one’s view appear to be high, honorary citations for journal editors or reviewers to seek endorsements are all examples of the abuse of the reasons for citing others’ work. Other forms of citation abuse occur when editors or reviewers insist upon their own work being cited, or when articles are ‘inflated’ by irrelevant citations, or when authors form mutual citation rings or cartels: “If you cite me, I will cite you.” The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has much useful advice on how to avoid this.

The ethics of dissemination from The Research Ethics Guidebook

Ethical and regulatory issues do not finish once the data collection is completed. Once you have your data, you will still have a number of obligations to fulfil. You will have a responsibility to produce certain outputs, you will have responsibilities concerning the way that you portray your subjects and participants, and in the way you write up your reports. This section aims to help you clarify the ethics questions at this stage of the research process.

Ethics issues may arise in the dissemination, public engagement and exploitation of findings. The Research Councils expect researchers to engage actively with the public at a local and national level and appropriately publish results widely. Impact activities and dissemination may therefore be ongoing throughout the research lifecycle (including these later stages) and members of research ethics committees should have the necessary skills and expertise to ask critical questions when assessing a proposal’s impact and dissemination plans. Any negative events likely to arise from these activities should be referred to the research ethics committee.