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Do we have any code of ethics about using the answers in Stack Exchange for writing the academic paper?

Situation 1. Someone is writing a paper, but stuck. He found several answers in the Stack Exchange community, and used them in his experiment and paper writing.

Situation 2. Someone is writing a paper, but stuck. He himself asked a question in the Stack Exchange community, and got answers. He used them in his experiment and paper writing.

Situation 3. Someone is writing a paper, but stuck. He himself asked a question in the Stack Exchange community. After he got the desired answers, he deleted the question, and used them in his experiment and paper writing.

In short, what should one properly do if he finds or gets answers in the community and intend to use them in the academic paper for publishing?

My primal concern is that the community or the authors of answer indeed actually contribute to the work of the paper by answering the questions. But in practice, it is impossible to add them as the co-authors nor even formally list it as reference of the paper. This doesn't sound very fair to the community.

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    I don't understand the downvotes without explanation. I think this question was very well asked, with a lot of forethought, and is not a valid duplicate of any question about network-wide policy (so certainly not a valid duplicate of any one particular question from one particular SE site, like the comment which indicates a "related" post). At the very least, I'd like to better understand why it's received downvotes, primarily as a courtesy to the asker. – Namaste Jun 7 at 21:53
  • I think the question is sincere and conscientious, since it's clear the asker wants to act appropriately with respect to SE's expectations about citations of work posted on SE sites. – Namaste Jun 7 at 21:53
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Deleting questions after getting an answer is discussed in Disallow deletion of questions ....

But I'd say that from almost any discipline's perspective, #3 is definitely wrong. Hiding facts or destroying evidence goes very much against the basic principles of research and academics. When this act is eventually discovered, all your other work, past and future, suddenly becomes tainted and suspect.

But as long as the public record remains of what you did, there doesn't seem to be any ethical difference between #1 and #2. Truth is truth. Whether you discover a truth by yourself, or discover that someone else has already discovered that truth doesn't matter, so long as you don't don't claim the former when in fact it was the latter. Many academic papers consist of taking other people's work and combining them in new ways to produce additional insight.

The only ethical ambiguity I see here is "use the answers". Presenting the ideas as your own is unethical. Quoting the answers is plagiarism. Presenting the ideas or quoting the answers, with explicit references, is a perfectly acceptable and common practice in academic papers.

For instance, when you finish your research and publish a paper on it, it might look like:

Ethical Issues in the Publication of Technical Papers
by Nathan Explosion
...
The destruction or concealment of research evidence, such as asking questions on social media or technical Q&A web sites42, is ...
...
Bibliography
...
[42] "Code of ethics of using answers in writing an academic paper", asked by Nathan Explosion, answered by Ray Butterworth, Meta Stack Exchange, 2019-06-07, "https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/329210/".

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    I think in para 2 you meant #1 and #2? – mdewey Jun 7 at 13:31
  • My primal concern is that the community or the author of answer indeed actually contribute to the work of the paper by answering the questions. But in practice, it is impossible to add them as the co-authors of the paper. Is it fair to the community? – Nathan Explosion Jun 7 at 13:47
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    @NathanExplosion As Ray says, you don’t add them as coauthors, you add them as citations, with full and proper attribution. Just like any other source. SE is no different from any other source in this regard. It’s standard practice when researching and writing a paper. Is there some concern we’re not covering? – Dan Bron Jun 7 at 16:50

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