Encouraging Everyday Lab Ethics

Photo: Courtesy of Debra Mathews Egregious cases of misconduct erode public trust, waste valuable resources, damage reputations, and destroy careers. Less obvious, however, are the myriad subtle ways in which members of our community harm the scientific enterprise when they fail to live up to their responsibilities as stewards and role models. Everyone knows of a university with a reputation for cutthroat competition, a department where the labs avoid collaboration, or a lab where the profess

Debra Matthews
Jul 7, 2002
Photo: Courtesy of Debra Mathews

Egregious cases of misconduct erode public trust, waste valuable resources, damage reputations, and destroy careers. Less obvious, however, are the myriad subtle ways in which members of our community harm the scientific enterprise when they fail to live up to their responsibilities as stewards and role models.

Everyone knows of a university with a reputation for cutthroat competition, a department where the labs avoid collaboration, or a lab where the professor keeps students longer than she should. However, the environment in which one learns and studies science can be just as important as the work done, in determining the kind of scientist he or she will become. So, what sorts of scientists do university labs produce?

My fellow graduate students have shared many stories about their departments, hoping to bring attention to such subtle misconduct. One friend told me about a lab in his department...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?