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Being a Scientist- Research Ethics

Being a Scientist- Research Ethics

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Published by William Molnar
William Molnar: A research paper on the issue of being a scientist and research ethics using two simulated scenarios.
William Molnar: A research paper on the issue of being a scientist and research ethics using two simulated scenarios.

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Published by: William Molnar on May 16, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Week 1 Assignment byWilliam Molnar “BEN: CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE”In Scenario 1, Ben offered his new technique in full to Dr. Freeman because his facultyadvisor encouraged his students not to keep secrets from other researchers. Six months later, Benfound an article by Dr. Freeman describing Ben’s technique, but without any citation mentioningBen’s presentation. The following questions were addressed in this scenario:
Does Ben have any way of receiving credit for his work?In response to this question, I believe that Ben should receive credit for his work. The National Academy of Science (1995) stated:If someone else exploits unpublished material that is seen in a privileged grantapplication or manuscript, that person is essentially stealing intellectual property. Inindustry, the commercial rights to scientific work belong more to the employer than theemployee, but similar provisions apply, research results are privileged until they are published or otherwise publicly disseminated. (p. 17)The object of research is to extend human knowledge of the physical, biological,or social world beyond what is already know. But an individual’s knowledge properlyenters the domain of science only after it is presented to other in such a fashion that theycan independently judge its validity. This process occurs in many different ways. (p. 10)One of the ways suggested by the National Academy of Science (1995) is throughseminars and conferences. This article claimed that many scientists keep their work secret because they fear that others will claim their work as their own. One scientist who would notshare his work was Isaac Newton. Henry Oldenburg offered one solution to this problem of making new discoveries public while ensuring that the originators of these discoveries weregiven their due credit. According to the National Academy of Science,He won over scientists by guaranteeing rapid publication in the society’s PhilosophicalTransaction as well as the official support of the society if the author’s priority was
 brought into question. Oldenburg also pioneered the practice of sending submittedmanuscripts to experts who could judge their quality. Out of these innovations rose boththe modern scientific journal and the practice of peer review. (p 16) The National Academy of Science also stated that” in a scientific paper, credit is acknowledgedin three places and one of them is the “acknowledgment of contributions from others and in thelist of references or citations” (p. 19).Smith (2003) stated:If they (scientists) contribute substantively to the conceptualization, design, execution, or analysis or interpretation of the research reported, they should be listed as authors.Contributions that are primarily technical don’t warrant authorship. In the same vein,advisers should not expect ex-officio authorship on their student’s work. (p. 57) Smith also asserted, “While it’s unlikely reviewers can purge all of the information in aninteresting manuscript from their thinking; it’s still unethical to take those ideas without givingcredit to the originator” (p 57). This is exactly what happened to Ben in that even though hisideas were mentioned by another researcher, he did not receive any credit for them. Inconclusion, the National Academy of Science (1995) noted that “failure to cite the work of otherscan give rise to more than just hard feelings. Citations are part of the reward system of science”(p. 19).
Should he contact Dr. Freeman in an effort to have his work recognized?I feel that Dr. Freeman should be made aware of the situation and should be encouragedto give Ben credit for his work. I feel that the code of ethics among researchers has been broken by Dr. Freeman and that he is obligated to give Ben credit for his work. It is possible that notmentioning Ben’s contribution was an oversight by Dr. Freeman, but how could someone writeabout a piece of work without knowing full well that it was not original work? I do not believethat it was an oversight.
Alberts and Shine (1994) stated, “The scientific research enterprise is built on afoundation of trust; trust that the results or ideas reported by others are valid and trust that thesource of novel ideas will be appropriately acknowledged in the scientific literature” (p. 1660).According to Dahlquist (2006), what Dr. Freeman did was “fraud and dishonesty in research”(p. 449). Kalichman (2006) argued that “science has an ethics problem” (p. 34). Caelleigh (2003)asserted, “Many scientific societies do not have formal statements on publication ethics, or theyhave very general or limited statements” (p. 223).3.Is Ben’s faculty advisor mistaken in encouraging his students to be so open abouttheir work? No, I do not believe that Ben’s faculty advisor was mistaken in encouraging him to beopen about his work. The National Academy of Science (1995) clearly stated, “Much of theknowledge and skill needed to make good decisions in science is learned through personalexperience and interaction with other scientists” (p. 13). It also contended:Science is not an individual experience. It is shared knowledge based on a commonunderstanding of some aspect of the physical or social world. For that reason, the socialconvention of science plays an important role in establishing the reliability of scientificknowledge. If these conventions are disrupted, the quality of science can suffer. (p. 16)ALLOCATION OF CREDIT AND “MAY: A CASE OF PLAGIARISM”In Scenario 2, May cited whole sentences and paragraphs from several published papersverbatim, but she did not use quotation marks to identify the text as someone else’s words. Thefaculty felt that there were inconsistencies in her writing style and declared it a case of  plagiarism. By order of the dean of the graduate school, May was expelled from the program,albeit with the stipulation that she could reapply for the next academic year. The followingquestions were addressed in this scenario:1.Is plagiarism like this a common practice?

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