Malpractice is defined as improper, illegal, or negligent activity. In the realm of research, here are some examples of information malpractice:

Plagiarism
It should go without saying that copying work that is not your own and/or using sources without attribution will get you into serious trouble.

Solution
Always do your own work and adhere to MLA, APA, or other assigned documentation guidelines.

Cherry-picking Science
Science is enormously complicated, and an individual research report is just one piece of a larger puzzle. Definitively quoting one story that seems to support your argument while ignoring all the others that do not–whether deliberately or not—will keep you from fully understanding your topic.

Solution
Read widely enough about your subject to make sure you understand it as completely as possible before you report on it. By comparing the work of the experts in a given field, you will develop a clearer picture of what is known and unknown, as well as which areas of inquiry are likely to be most productive.

Presenting History without its Context
History is nuanced and discrete. Behind every anecdote and quote, there is a complex set of facts and circumstances, all of which could dramatically alter the event’s interpretation.

Solution
Place the primary source in its historical context by determining, as best you can, the point of view of the source and its original intent. Read and evaluate the source carefully and critically, and be prepared to do more research to determine why the quote was said or the action taken.

False Equivalence
False equivalence occurs when someone falsely equates an act by one party to the act of another without taking into account all of the underlying differences which may make the comparison inaccurate or invalid.

Solution
Always make sure that the comparison you wish to make is supported by the facts of each instance. Also, try not to let your own biases color your interpretation of the facts.

Treating All Opinions as Equal
An expert in the field of geochemistry likely knows more about hydraulic fracturing than a random commenter on an internet message board. An atmospheric scientist will know more about climate science than a journalist, an economist, or a meteorologist. Don’t give all opinions about your subject equal weight.

Solution
Respect expertise, education, and prestige. Investigate authors and their professional affiliations in order to determine authority and expertise.

 

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