Ethics in Scientific Research

Codes of Ethics

Although some topics of biological research remain controversial to the general public, the actual practice of scientific research follows clear ethical guidelines. Many scientific societies have established “Codes of Ethics” for their members. The following guidelines are common to most scientific societies.

  • Do not fabricate or falsify data
  • Do not suppress results that are in opposition to a particular hypothesis
  • Do not misrepresent results
  • Do not plagiarize*
  • Be honest and forthcoming about conflicts of interest
  • Offer professional advice only on those subjects in which you are qualified
  • Conduct field research so as to minimize damage to the environment
  • Conduct animal research so as to minimize pain and suffering to animals
  • The life, health, privacy, and dignity of human subjects must be protected
  • Human subjects must be volunteers and informed participants in the research project

*According to the Missouri State University web-site on Academic Integrity: "The term 'plagiarism' includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work or sections of a work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement (whether intentional or not). This includes any material copied directly or paraphrased from the Internet. The unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials, including material taken from or ordered through the Internet, also constitutes plagiarism."

Examples of scientific organizations having clear ethical guidelines:

American Society of Microbiology

Animal Behavior Society

Ecological Society of America

National Association of Biology Teachers

National Institutes of Health (list of documents and publications)

World Medical Association (Helsinki declaration)

Faculty and students at Missouri State University are strongly encouraged to follow these guidelines in both teaching and research labs. The following groups participate in this effort:

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Human Subjects Institutional Review Board