BBC reports that scientists working in the UK government have adopted a Scientific Ethics Code, written by Professor Sir David King. Here is the Code:
Act with skill and care, keep skills up to date
Prevent corrupt practice and declare conflicts of interest
Respect and acknowledge the work of other scientists
Ensure that research is justified and lawful
Minimise impacts on people, animals and the environment
Discuss issues science raises for society
Do not mislead; present evidence honestly
Several bloggers have responded to this. Here is Janet’s take:
They seem like quite sensible principles — so sensible, in fact, that you might ask why they need to be formalized in a code of ethics. Don’t scientists already know that they should be honest, be fair to their fellow scientists, avoid conflicts of interest, keep up with the literature in their field, and all that good stuff?
Surely they do, but we’ve noted before that knowing what you ought to do and actually doing it are two different things. The question then becomes, how exactly does having a code of ethics help?
Oldcola has several suggestions to edit or add to the Code – I like them all but of course I especially like this one:
In general, I would like to make it mandatory to spend a week per year discussing issues science raises for society for every single scientist. And maybe mandatory to read and rate papers on PLoS ONE. Now, come on, I’m not joking. And yes, I do started doing so myself, with a minimal objective of 3/week.
And maybe the scientists should be trained to blog, also.
Perhaps they will discuss the Code at the ESF-ORI First World Conference on
RESEARCH INTEGRITY: FOSTERING RESPONSIBLE RESEARCH
What do you think?