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6 Ethical Writing Practices Every Writer Should Embrace

Ethical Writing Practices

Ethical Writing Practices

As you get ready to start your day with your notebook or laptop, remember to consider ethical writing practices. This will help you show authenticity in your writing to your readers. Integrity in writing is very important, whether you are writing a novel or an essay. You will gain credibility and respect for the work you put out there so readers can take you serious when you release another piece.

Ethical writing practices include acknowledging sources. By doing so, you are giving proper credit for the ideas we borrow or use from others. It is not plagiarism when respecting your fellow creators that helps enrich the texts we create. At the same time, we honor the copyright laws of the other creator.

When acknowledging sources, we must include other ethical writing practices that follow along. For example, ensuring truthfulness and accuracy helps with fact-checking. Another is transparency to help build trust with your readers. Then we have respecting privacy, practice inclusivity, and engagement with our readers.

To embrace these practices, we elevate our craft as writers by following these guidelines. Ethical writing practices fosters integrity that helps readers trust us as writers. As soon as you break any one of these guidelines, it will be very difficult to regain a reader’s trust. So please do yourself a favor and practice these ideas.



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Acknowledging Sources

Acknowledging SourcesWhen acknowledging sources, we give a shout-out to the people who created the idea to begin with. As long as you’re giving credit and not claiming it as your own, you steer clear from plagiarism. Plagiarism is literally taking the full idea of a creator and claiming it as yours without the proper acknowledgement. This is a crime in the writing world. However, there might be times when someone might accidentally copy someone’s work with acknowledgement, but that is very rare.

Just do yourself a favor, give credit. It saves you the headache of defending yourself.

However, I must say giving credit is NOT enough. There are other practices that follow along with it. From my knowledge, when writing essays, you must understand and familiarize yourself with citation styles like APA, MLA, Chicago, and others. Another practice, cite all types of sources. I’m talking about books, articles, websites, or anyone that has informed your work.

Another practice would be using quotation marks for direct quotes. Basically, just taking whatever piece of text you grab as is and placing it in your work. After doing this, you must include the citation next to it. This also goes for paraphrasing. The only difference is taking the quote you took and putting it in your own words without adding a quotation. However, the idea is not yours and still must include a citation.

Normally when I write essays, I prefer paraphrasing because it makes the work look cleaner.

Then finally, after you have practiced these guidelines, you must at a bibliography at the end of your document. If readers want more information about the citation you have provided, they can go to the last page of the document and check out the original source from there.

If you need help in organizing your sources, then consider using tools like Zotero and Mendeley to auto-generate them for you.

Truthfulness and Accuracy

Truthfulness and AccuracyOne of the worst things you can do in your writing is provide misinformation. This will kill your integrity as a writer when you mislead your readers. This is not only for writing essays, but this goes to writing fiction as well. Using me as an example, when I wrote Deadly Sins, the intent was to provide mental illness with as much accuracy as possible. Holding a degree in forensic psychology is not enough to help gain credibility. I must still honor it as I write on these subjects.

But let’s not forget, I am still human with the possibility of making mistakes. That’s why I review and edit as much as possible. I hired an editor to see other mistakes that I may have missed as well. Sources I have used when writing out my book were science-based. They were reputable sources with a deeper understanding of psychology and mental illness. Even when writing the stories, I still have to handle the work with care and respect. The last thing I want is to perpetuate any stereotype related to the illness I am trying to showcase in my stories. It is important that homework must be done to get things right.


TransparencyIt’s always helpful to show transparency in your writing. This shows your readers behind-the-scenes of what went down during the writing process of the book or any story you write. In my book Deadly Sins, I have an “About the Author”, an “Introduction”, and a “Notes” page. The “About the Author” page discusses a brief bio of who I am as an author. The “Introduction” page discusses what the book will be about. The “Notes” page is what comes after the final story of my book, discussing the process of writing.

But when discussing transparency, it’s not only taking your readers behind the curtains but also announcing any changes being made in the story in terms of accuracy. Also discuss what is different so your readers are aware. You continue to preserve your trust with your readers. Again, we’re human, we make mistakes. But we must acknowledge those mistakes and correct them when possible or necessary.

Now how about conflict of interest? This can be tricky when reviewing the works of those close to you. Even when I give a review to friends or associate’s work, I make sure to be as honest as possible. But when it comes to written reviews of someone’s work or even their business, by being upfront shows readers who you are as a writer. Being open and honest helps build integrity.

Remember, being transparent shows authenticity. This helps readers build trust in who you are as a writer and spread the good word about you.

Respecting Privacy

Respecting PrivacyWe must at all times respect the privacy of all subjects. When writing about a topic or trying to gain accuracy of an idea, someone’s experience can help. However, that someone may not want to be acknowledged in any of the work you wrote. So what do you do?

When someone offers you their experience in a story, they are opening up and vulnerability side of them. As writers, we must honor those who provide such experience and whether, given the permission to credit them. If needed, you can give them a anonymize them by providing a pseudonym.

When it comes to sensitive or traumatic information, it is best to be informative and illuminate than to be invasive and exploit. Always prioritize the privacy of those who experienced these events. Meanwhile, when having this knowledge, do some additional research. We want to tell interesting stories while we give the utmost respect for the people giving us this information.

Respecting privacy provides empathy towards the people who shared their experiences. The very same people also deserved to be honored in a way they want to be. They’re humans, just like us. They provide the experience; we provide the information. Yet, the information provided must be handled with decency and respect. Remember, the information we’re providing will go out to the public.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion

Promoting Diversity and InclusionEveryone deserves to have their stories welcomed and valued. Like I mentioned, we are all humans with stories to tell. Every race, orientation, identity, etc. have true human experiences they can share with the world. When we incorporate diverse perspectives, we open the doors for authentic storytelling. Based on my experiences with reading multi-cultural stories, I have learned something new.

The idea of inclusion shows a representation of the culture that is being told. In my book Deadly Sins, in the story of Envy, one of the main characters is from Croatia. I didn’t know much about their culture except for knowing people who represent the country and tried out their food.

Really good food, by the way.

What I did was do a lot of research of the country to understand the way they lived. This was very difficult, but I tried to make the best out of it by having the character relate to everyone here. In this story, jealousy and envy are very relatable, but this character faces it by not experiencing it but having others around her do. When I wanted to portray her character of race, I didn’t want to use stereotypes. I wanted to embrace the culture with full respect. The only way I had to do that was to understand the origins.

This is just one example out of many by other writers. Promoting diversity and inclusion takes commitment to learn and show empathy in our writing. As writers, researching helps us learn about different cultures while showing respect. Everyone deserves to be seen and heard and it’s our responsibility as writers to do so in a respectful manner.

Engaging in Fair Use

Engaging in Fair UseWhen it comes to fair use in writing, it’s all about using someone’s work respectfully and within legal and ethical limits. When engaging in fair use, you incorporate other’s creations. For example, you borrow a quote from a book of film or a snippet of a song and make it your own by adding a mix of your original ideas without permission. However, that doesn’t mean you can rip-off someone’s work and claim it your own. You are blending in other ideas of yours as well.

The trick to fair use is understanding its limitations. It’s not just about how much of someone else’s work you use, but how you use it. Are you adding new meaning or creating something new with it? Is it for educational purposes or for non-profit work?

Let me explain further. In news reporting, a journalist writes an article about a recent political speech. In order to do that, they include brief quotes from the speech to critique its content. This usage is likely fair use, as it provides critical commentary and is used within a journalistic context to inform the public.

Another example would be academic research and commentary. An academic writes a paper on the portrayal of science in popular movies. They quote several lines from a well-known film to analyze its scientific accuracy. This use could be considered fair because it’s for educational purposes. The quotes are used to support a scholarly argument, and it doesn’t replace the need for the original work.

These scenarios tend to weigh more favorably in the fair use balance. But remember, just because your work is non-commercial or transformative doesn’t automatically give you a free pass. It’s about striking a balance. You use it enough to make your point, but not so much that it replaces the need for the original work.

When you use fair use, your voice blends with the people who inspired you, creating a powerful resonance.

If you’d like further details on ethical writing practices, check out this article, Avoiding Plagiarism, Self-plagiarism, and Other Questionable Writing Practices: A Guide to Ethical Writing

If you’d like to get a better understanding of ethics in general, then check out this book The Power of Ethics by Susan Liautaud.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to ethical writing practices, it’s not just about rules, it’s about understanding the power of words. From acknowledging sources to engaging in fair use, everything we’ve talked about is essential for making work that’s credible, meaningful, and respectful. As writers, we should strive to inform, entertain, and connect people through our work.

When we incorporate ethical writing practices, we go beyond avoiding mistakes and instead elevate our work, earning trust from readers and enriching the conversation. Keep in mind that ethical writing is about telling the truth, showing respect, and being empathetic. These values apply to all types of writing. As we continue to figure out what works best with our writing, let’s use these principles to make work that feels real and adds to the human story in a good way.

If you liked this article and found it useful, consider going through Tips For Writers for more helpful tips.