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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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ON BEING A SCIENTIST

RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT IN RESEARCH

COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND PUBLIC POLICY

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING

INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1995

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
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NOTICE: This volume was produced as part of a project approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. It is a result of work done by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) which has authorized its release to the public. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by COSEPUP and the Report Review Committee.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT: The development of this document was supported by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Support for dissemination of this document was provided by the following corporations and disciplinary societies: Bristol Myers Squibb Company, Glaxo Research Institute, SmithKline Beecham Corp., Sigma Xi, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the American Society for Microbiology, the American Chemical Society, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the American Sociological Association, the American Statistical Association , the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Institute of Physics, and the American Physical Society. Additional support was provided by the Basic Science Fund of the National Academy of Sciences, whose contributors include the AT&T Foundation, Atlantic Richfield Foundation, BP America, Dow Chemical Company, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., IBM Corporation, Merck and Company, Inc., Monsanto Company, and Shell Oil Companies Foundation.

Copyright 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. This document may be reproduced solely for educational purposes without the written permission of the National Academy of Sciences.

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ON THE COVER: The cover depicts the names of some of the scientists who have been awarded the Nobel Prize. The design of the cover and the report was done by Isely &/or Clark Design.

PHOTOGRAPH CREDITS:Calar Alto Observatory (Page 16); Ira Wexler/College of Engineering/University of Maryland (Page 12); National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health (Page 25); U.S Department of Agriculture (Pages 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 13, 23).

International Standard Book Number 0-309-05196-7

Printed in the United States of America

First Printing, January 1995

Second Printing, June 1995

Third Printing, April 1996

Fourth Printing, August 1998

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
×

COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND PUBLIC POLICY

PHILLIP A. GRIFFITHS (Chair), Director,

Institute for Advanced Study

ROBERT MCCORMICK ADAMS Secretary Emeritus,

Smithsonian Institution

BRUCE M. ALBERTS President,

National Academy of Sciences

ELKAN R. BLOUT Harkness Professor,

Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School

FELIX E. BROWDER University Professor,

Department of Mathematics, Rutgers University

DAVID R. CHALLONER, M.D. Vice President of Health Affairs,

University of Florida

ALBERT F. COTTON Distinguished Professor of Chemistry (term ending 6/94)

ELLIS B. COWLING Director,

Southern Oxidants Study, School of Forest Resources, North Carolina State University

BERNARD N. FIELDS, M.D. Adele Lehman Professor; Chairman,

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School

ALEXANDER H. FLAX Senior Fellow,

National Academy of Engineering

RALPH E. GOMORY President,

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

THOMAS D. LARSON Consultant

MARY J. OSBORN Head,

Department of Microbiology, University of Connecticut Health Center

C. KUMAR N. PATEL Vice Chancellor,

Research Programs, University of California, Los Angeles (term ending 6/94)

PHILLIP A. SHARP Head,

Department of Biology, Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

KENNETH I. SHINE President,

Institute of Medicine

ROBERT M. SOLOW Institute Professor,

Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (term ending 6/94)

H. GUYFORD STEVER Member,

Carnegie Commission on Science and Technology (term ending 6/94)

MORRIS TANENBAUM Vice President,

National Academy of Engineering

ROBERT M. WHITE President,

National Academy of Engineering

LAWRENCE E. MCCRAY Executive Director

PRINCIPAL PROJECT STAFF

STEVE OLSON, Consultant/Writer

DEBORAH D. STINE, Project Director

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
×
This page in the original is blank.
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
×

PREFACE

The scientific research enterprise, like other human activities, is built on a foundation of trust. Scientists trust that the results reported by others are valid. Society trusts that the results of research reflect an honest attempt by scientists to describe the world accurately and without bias. The level of trust that has characterized science and its relationship with society has contributed to a period of unparalleled scientific productivity. But this trust will endure only if the scientific community devotes itself to exemplifying and transmitting the values associated with ethical scientific conduct.

In the past, young scientists learned the ethics of research largely through informal means—by working with senior scientists and watching how they dealt with ethical questions. That tradition is still vitally important. But science has become so complex and so closely intertwined with society's needs that a more formal introduction to research ethics and the responsibilities that these commitments imply is also needed—an introduction that can supplement the informal lessons provided by research supervisors and mentors.

The original "On Being a Scientist," published by the National Academy of Sciences in 1989, was designed to meet that need. Written for beginning researchers, it sought to describe the ethical foundations of scientific practices and some of the personal and professional issues that researchers encounter in their work. It was meant to apply to all forms of research—whether in academic, industrial, or governmental settings—and to all scientific disciplines. Over 200,000 copies of the booklet were distributed to graduate and undergraduate science students. It continues to be used today in courses, seminars, and informal discussions.

Much has happened in the six years since "On Being a Scientist" first appeared. Research institutions and federal agencies have developed important new policies for dealing with behaviors that violate the ethical standards of science. A distinguished panel convened by the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and the Institute of Medicine issued a major report on research conduct entitled Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process . Continued questions have reemphasized the importance of the ethical decisions that researchers must make.

To reflect the developments of the last six years, the National Academy complex is issuing this new version of "On Being a Scientist." This version incorporates new material from Responsible Science and other recent reports. It reflects suggestions from readers of the original booklet, from instructors who used the original booklet in their classes and seminars, and from graduate students and professors who critiqued drafts of the revision. This version of "On Being a Scientist" also includes a number of hypothetical scenarios, which have proved in recent years to provide an effective means of presenting research ethics. An appendix at the end of the booklet offers guidance in thinking about and discussing these scenarios, but the scenarios remain essentially open-ended. As is the case for the entire document, input from readers is welcomed.

Though "On Being a Scientist" is aimed primarily at graduate students and

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
×

beginning researchers, its lessons apply to all scientists at all stages of their scientific careers. In particular, senior scientists have a special responsibility in upholding the highest standards for conduct, serving as role models for students and young scientists, designing educational programs, and responding to alleged violations of ethical norms. Senior scientists can themselves gain a new appreciation for the importance of ethical issues by discussing with their students what had previously been largely tacit knowledge. In the process, they help provide the leadership that is essential for high standards of conduct to be maintained.

The original "On Being a Scientist" was produced under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences by the Committee on the Conduct of Science, which consisted of Robert McCormick Adams, Francisco Ayala (chairman), Mary-Dell Chilton, Gerald Holton, David Hull, Kumar Patel, Frank Press, Michael Ruse, and Phillip Sharp. Several members of that committee were involved directly in the revision of the booklet, and the others were consulted during the revision and reviewed the resulting document.

This new version of the booklet was prepared under the auspices of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, which is a joint committee of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. The revision was overseen by a guidance group consisting of Robert McCormick Adams, David Challoner, Bernard Fields, Kumar Patel, Frank Press, and Phillip Sharp (group chairman).

The future of science depends on attracting outstanding young people to research—not only people of enormous energy and talent but people of strong character who will be tomorrow's leaders. It is incumbent on all scientists and all administrators of science to help provide a research environment that, through its adherence to high ethical standards and creative productivity, will attract and retain individuals of outstanding intellect and character to one of society's most important professions.

BRUCE ALBERTS 

President, National Academy of Sciences

KENNETH SHINE

President, Institute of Medicine

ROBERT WHITE

President, National Academy of Engineering

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The committee thanks the graduate students of Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Irvine, who participated in focus group sessions which provided invaluable feedback on earlier drafts of the document, as well as Charles Cantor, Frank Solomon, and F. Sherwood Rowland, who sponsored those sessions at the respective institutions.

In addition, the committee thanks a number of individuals who teach research ethics and provided guidance on earlier drafts as to the "teachability" of the document, especially: Joan Steitz, Caroline Whitbeck, Penny Gilmer, Michael Zigmond, Frank Solomon, and Indira Nair.

Finally, the committee thanks its able staff: Steve Olson, science writer, whose help in drafting this revision was invaluable; Deborah Stine, who managed the project and ran the focus groups on the document; and Jeffrey Peck and Patrick Sevcik, who provided administrative support at various stages.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
×

A NOTE ON USING THIS BOOKLET

This booklet makes the point that scientific knowledge is defined collectively through discussion and debate. Collective deliberation is also the best procedure to apply in using this booklet. Group discussion—whether in seminars, orientations, research settings, or informal settings—can demonstrate how different individuals would react in specific situations, often leading to conclusions that no one would have arrived at individually.

These observations apply with particular force to the hypothetical scenarios in this booklet. Each scenario concludes with a series of questions, but these questions have many answers—some better, some worse—rather than a single right answer. An appendix at the end of this booklet examines specific issues involved in several of the scenarios as a way of suggesting possible topics for consideration and discussion.

This booklet has been prepared for use in many different settings, including:

  • Classes on research ethics

  • Classes on research methods or statistics

  • Classes on the history, sociology, or philosophy of science

  • Seminars to discuss research practices or results

  • Meetings sponsored by scientific societies on a local, regional, or national level

  • Meetings held to develop ethics policies or guidelines for a specific laboratory or institution

  • Orientation sessions

  • Journal clubs

A useful format in any of these situations is to have a panel discussion involving three or four researchers who are at different stages of their careers—for example, a graduate student, a postdoctoral fellow, a junior faculty member, and a senior faculty member. Such panels can identify the ambiguities in a problem situation, devise ways to get the information needed to resolve the ambiguities, and demonstrate the full range of perspectives that are involved in ethical deliberations. They can also show how institutional policies and resources can influence an individual's response to a given situation, which will emphasize the importance for all researchers to know what those institutional policies and resources are.

Finally, discussion of these issues with a broad range of researchers can demonstrate that research ethics is not a complete and finalized body of knowledge. These issues are still being discussed, explored, and debated, and all researchers have a responsibility to move the discussion forward.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
×
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4917.
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Since the first edition of On Being a Scientist was published in 1989, more than 200,000 copies have been distributed to graduate and undergraduate science students. Now this well-received booklet has been updated to incorporate the important developments in science ethics of the past 6 years and includes updated examples and material from the landmark volume Responsible Science (National Academy Press, 1992).

The revision reflects feedback from readers of the original version. In response to graduate students' requests, it offers several case studies in science ethics that pose provocative and realistic scenarios of ethical dilemmas and issues.

On Being a Scientist presents penetrating discussions of the social and historical context of science, the allocation of credit for discovery, the scientist's role in society, the issues revolving around publication, and many other aspects of scientific work. The booklet explores the inevitable conflicts that arise when the black and white areas of science meet the gray areas of human values and biases.

Written in a conversational style, this booklet will be of great interest to students entering scientific research, their instructors and mentors, and anyone interested in the role of scientific discovery in society.

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