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Article # 0046
The Ethics of Paying to be Published
by Tom Cox, P.E.
Not long ago, a fellow engineer came up to me and suggested that he was concerned about the ethicality of paying a fee to be published in order to gain continuing education (CE) credit. Now, I had already considered this question and resolved it to my satisfaction, but I had not really formulated a listing of my reasons. This article seeks to examine the various issues involved with paying to be published. We must also examine whether obtaining CE credit by paying to be published meets the letter and intent of “the law”.
To begin, let us examine the law on CE programs. Here is the Texas law:
OCCUPATIONS CODE, TITLE 6, SUBTITLE A, SUBCHAPTER E. tc "SUBTITLE A. REGULATION OF ENGINEERING AND RELATED PRACTICES"
§ 1001.210. Continuing Education XE "Continuing Education" Programstc "§ 1001.210. Continuing Education Programs"
(a) The boardxe "Board" shall recognize, prepare, or administer continuing education programs for its license holders. A license holder must participate in the programs to the extent required by the boardxe "Board" to keep the person’s license.
(b) The boardxe "Board" may not require a license holder to obtain more than 15 hours of continuing education annually. The boardxe "Board" shall permit a license holder to certify at the time the license is renewed that the license holder has complied with the boardxe "Board"’s continuing education requirements.
(c) The boardxe "Board" shall permit a license holder to receive continuing education credit for educational, technical, xe "Ethical"ethical, or professional management activities related to the practice of engineering, including:
(1) successfully completing or auditingxe "Auditing" a course sponsored by an institution of higher education;
(2) successfully completing a course certified by a professional or trade organization;
(3) attending a seminar, tutorial, short course, correspondence course, videotaped course, or televised course;
(4) participating in an in-house course sponsored by a corporation or other business entity;
(5) teaching a course described by Subdivisions (1)-(4);
(6) publishing an article, paper, or book on the practice of engineering;
(7) making or attending a presentation at a meeting of a technical or engineering management society or organization or writing a paper presented at such a meeting;
(8) participating in the activities of a professional society or association, including serving on a committee of the organization; and
(9) engaging in self-directed study.
(d) A license holder may not receive more than five continuing education credit hours annually for engaging in self-directed study.
tc "Rules Concerning the Practice of Engineering and
Professional Engineering Licensure"
Thus by the letter of the law, publishing an article, paper, or book is specifically included under (c) (6), as an acceptable means of obtaining CE credit. Let’s compare this to the Board Rules:
Texas Administrative Code, Title XE "Title" 22: Part 6, XE "Board" Chapter 137
§137.17 Continuing Education XE "Continuing Education" Programtc "§137.17 Continuing Education Program"
(a) Each license holder shall meet the Continuing Educationxe "Continuing Education" Program (xe "CEP"CEP) requirements for professional development as a condition for license xe "Renewal"renewal.
(b) Terms used in this section are defined as follows:
(1) Professional Development Hour (PDH) - A contact hour (clock hour) of CEP activity. PDH is the basic unit for CEP reporting.
(2) Continuing Educationxe "Continuing Education" Unit (CEU) - Unit of credit customarily used for continuing education courses. One continuing education unit equals 10 hours of class in an approved continuing education course.
(3) College/Unit Semester/Quarter Hour - Credit for course in ABET-approved program or other related college course.
(4) Course/Activity - Any qualifying course or activity with a clear purpose and objective which will maintain, improve, or expand the skills and knowledge relevant to the license holder’s field of practice.
(c) Every license holder is required to obtain 15 PDH units during the xe "Renewal"renewal period year.
(d) A minimum of 1 PDH per renewal period must be in the area of professional ethics, roles and responsibilities of professional engineering, or review of the Texas Engineering XE "Engineering" Practice Act XE "Act" and Board XE "Board" Rules. PDH units carried forward may not be counted to meet the professional ethics requirement.
(e) If a license holder exceeds the annual requirement in any renewal period, a maximum of 14 PDH units may be carried forward into the subsequent renewal period. Professional Development Hours must not be anticipated and cannot be used for more than one renewal period.
(f) PDH units may be earned as follows:
(1) Successful completion or auditing of college credit courses.
(2) Successful completion of continuing education courses, either offered by a professional or trade organization, university or college, or offered in-house by a corporation, other business entity, professional or technical societies, associations, agencies, or organizations, or other group.
(3) Successful completion of correspondence, on-line, televised, videotaped, and other short courses/tutorials.
(4) Presenting or attending seminars, in-house courses, workshops, or professional or technical presentations made at meetings, conventions, or conferences sponsored by a corporation, other business entity, professional or technical societies, associations, agencies, or organizations, or other group.
(5) Teaching or instructing as listed in paragraphs (1) through (4) of this subsection.
(6) Authoring published papers, articles, books, or accepted licensing examination items.
(7) Active participation in professional or technical societies, associations, agencies, or organizations, including:
(A) Serving as an elected or appointed official;
(B) Serving on a committee of the organization;
(C) Serving in other official positions.
(8) Patents issued.
(9) Engaging in self-directed study.
(10) Active participation in educational outreach activities involving K-12 or higher education students.
(g) All activities described in §137.17(f) of this title shall be relevant to the practice of a technical profession and may include educational, technical, ethical, or managerial content.
(h) The conversion of other units of credit to PDH units is as follows:
(1) 1 College or unit semester hour--15 PDH
(2) 1 College or unit quarter hour--10 PDH
(3) 1 Continuing Education Unit--10 PDH
(4) 1 Hour of professional development in course work, seminars, or professional or technical presentations made at meetings, conventions, or conferences--1 PDH
(5) 1 Hour of professional development through self-directed study--1 PDH (Not to exceed 5 PDH)
(6) Each published paper, article, or book--10 PDH
(7) Active participation in professional or technical society, association, agency, or organization--1 PDH (Not to exceed 5 PDH per organization)
(8) Active participation in educational outreach activities--1 PDH (Not to exceed 3 PDH)
(9) Each patent issued--15 PDH
(10) Other activities shall be credited at 1 PDH for each hour of participation in the activity.
(i) Determination of Credit
(1) The boardxe "Board" shall be the final authority with respect to whether a course or activity meets the requirements of these rules.
(2) The boardxe "Board" shall not pre-approve or endorse any xe "CEP"CEP activities. It is the responsibility of each license holder to assure that all PDH credits claimed meet CEP requirements.
(3) Credit for college or community college approved courses will be based upon course credit established by the college.
(4) Credit for seminars and workshops will be based on one PDH unit for each hour of attendance. Attendance at programs presented at professional and/or technical society meetings will earn PDH units for the actual time of each program.
(5) Credit for self-directed study will be based on one PDH unit for each hour of study and is not to exceed 5 PDH per xe "Renewal"renewal period. Credit determination for self-directed study is the responsibility of the license holder and subject to review as required by the boardxe "Board".
(6) Credit determination for activities described in subsection (h)(4) of this section is the responsibility of the license holder and subject to review as required by the boardxe "Board".
(7) Credit for activity described in subsection (h)(7) of this section requires that a license holder serve as an officer of the organization, actively participate in a committee of the organization, or serve in other official positions. PDH credits are not earned until the end of each year of service is completed.
(8) Teaching credit is valid for teaching a course or seminar for the first time only.
(j) The license holder is responsible for maintaining records to be used to support credits claimed. Records required include, but are not limited to:
(1) a log showing the type of activity claimed, sponsoring organization, location, duration, instructor’s or speaker’s name, and PDH credits earned; and
(2) attendance verification records in the form of completion certificates or other documents supporting evidence of attendance.
(k)The license holder must submit certification that xe "CEP"CEP requirements have been satisfied for that xe "Renewal"renewal year with the xe "Renewal"renewal application and fee.
(l) CEP records for each license holder must be maintained for a period of three years by the license holder.
(m) CEP records for each license holder are subject to auditxe "Audit" by the boardxe "Board" or its authorized representative.
(1) Copies must be furnished, if requested, to the boardxe "Board" or its authorized representative for auditxe "Audit" verification purposes.
(2) If upon auditingxe "Auditing" a license holder, the board finds that the activities cited do not fall within the bounds of educational, technical, xe "Ethical"ethical, or professional management activities related to the practice of engineering; the boardxe "Board" may require the license holder to acquire additional PDH as needed to fulfill the minimum CEP requirements.
(n) A license holder may be exempt from the professional development educational requirements for one of the following reasons listed in paragraphs (1)-(4) of this subsection:
(1) New license holders by way of examination shall be exempt for their first xe "Renewal"renewal period.
(2) A license holder serving on active duty and deployed outside the United States, its possessions and territories, in or for the military service of the United States for a period of time exceeding one hundred twenty (120) consecutive days in a year shall be exempt from obtaining the professional development hours required during that year.
(3) License holders experiencing physical disability, illness, or other extenuating circumstances as reviewed and approved by the boardxe "Board" may be exempt. Supporting documentation must be furnished to the boardxe "Board".
(4) License holders who list their status as “Inactive” and who further certify that they are no longer receiving any remuneration from providing professional engineering services shall be exempt from the professional development hours required.
(o) A license holder may bring an inactivexe "Inactive Status" license to active status by obtaining all delinquent PDH units. However, if the total number required to become current exceeds 30 units, then 30 units shall be the maximum number required.
(1) If an license holder does not certify that xe "CEP"CEP requirements have been met for a xe "Renewal"renewal period, the license shall be considered expired and subject to late fees and penalties.
(2) Failure to comply with xe "CEP"CEP reporting requirements as listed in this section is a violation of board XE "Board" rules and shall be subject to sanctions.
(3) A determination by auditxe "Audit" that xe "CEP"CEP requirements have been falsely reported shall be considered to be misconduct and will subject the license holder to disciplinary action.
The first thing you should notice is how much verbiage the board requires to make their point. It goes from 256 words for the legislation to 1,335 words for the rule. But this word inflation is better suited for another article.
The Board rules specifically allow that publishing an article, paper, or book, under (f) (6), as an acceptable means of obtaining CE credit. Paragraph (h) (6) sets the CE credit for having an article, paper, or book published, at 10 PDH.
The Texas State Board’s rules and most other states that require CE, allow credit for being published. There is no question as to the legality of getting credit by being published, but just because an action is legal does not make it ethical.
Having established the legality of obtaining CE credit by having an article published, let’s examine the intent of the legislature.
INTENT OF THE LAW
Earning CE credit by publishing is clearly established as meeting the letter of the law. Does paying to be published meet the legislature’s intent?
Based on § 1001.210(c), the board was instructed to allow CE credit for “educational, technical, xe "Ethical"ethical, or professional management activities related to the practice of engineering…” Additionally, the legislature specifically included publishing as an acceptable method. No mention is made of any fees or costs for any of the accepted methods. As several of the other methods generally charge a fee for attendance, participation, or membership, paying for CE credit does not appear to be a concern.
Governments have a long history of ignoring the costs of their mandates; there is little doubt that paying for any means of obtaining CE credit, including getting published, is acceptable.
PAYING TO BE PUBLISHIED
Let us consider the various engineering print journals. Most of these are peer reviewed and there is a certain amount of prestige to having one’s paper printed. These journals typically charge a fee to the author, although the fee may be waived under certain circumstances. One journal charges up to $200.00 per page of manuscript. In addition to the fees on the authors, the journals are generally available only by subscription or some other means of sale. Thus not only is the author paying to be published, they are essentially providing a free product that will be sold.
The “vanity” publishers generally charge a set-up fee and then sell the books, pamphlets, etc, to the author. They generally do not distribute, publicize, or even read what they publish. The author simply pays for the printing and material, and hopefully recoups his costs by selling the finished product.
The “mainstream” publishers pay the author royalties and promotes and sells the authors work. Of course, they are picky as to what they accept and only consider material that they believe will be popular and make a profit. Thus, once again the author is paying to be published, by providing an income to the publisher.
Based on these examples, paying to have ones work published is a long accepted practice.
Ethics violations generally result from a breach of the public trust. These violations include fraud, bribery, corruption, incompetence, deceit, or a conflict of interest. Provided the article to be published is:
Then paying to be published is lawful and ethical.
Article # 0046 TEST QUESTIONS: Coming Soon
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