Do Scientists Need a Professional Code of Ethics?

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Do Scientists Need a Professional Code of Ethics? Ethics, by definition of Webster’s dictionary is, “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation 2 a: a set of moral principles and values b: a theory or system of moral values c: the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group.” I agree with Mr. Hammer when he says in his writings, ” scientists need well-defined and clearly written professional codes of conduct”. Scientists, like humans make mistakes whether they are deliberate or not. However, if a professional code of ethics was in place that set moral boundaries and warned scientists of the consequences of their actions, scientists would gain integrity in their reputation and their work. In his article, Hammer talks about two types of scientific transgression, negligence and deliberate misconduct. He provides an example of deliberate misconduct in the section about a scientific paper entitled “Cell”. The paper had questionable data that had been provided by one of its authors Thereza Imanishi-Kiri. Imanishi-Kiri deliberately fabricated data in order to support the paper, and when the NIH board began to investigate, she contrived even more data. Her cowriter, unaware of this fraud, supports Imanishi-Kiri by making strong and hostile statements defending Imanishi-Kiri to the NIH investigating board, damaging his own credibility. Dr. Baltimore ended up resigning as president of Rockefeller University, because of this incident. If Baltimore had actually enforced his ideas about fraud and misconduct and had given Imanishi-Kiri a set of moral guidelines, the situation may have turned out differently. The deliberate misconduct, as exhibited in “the Baltimore case”, is only one type of scientific transgression. The other type is negligence. In cases like this, “not only is the

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