Seven Sins in Academic Behavior

Seven Sins in Academic Behavior

Author: ChemViews

Wilfred F. van Gunsteren, ETH Zürich, Switzerland, names in his essay “The Seven Sins in Academic Behavior in the Natural Sciences” these sins and their ramifications.

Today the basic principles of high quality scientific research are increasingly in conflict with the pressure placed on academic scientists to compete for grant money and to publish work continuously, in particular in high-impact journals. However, to maintain the role of academics as reliable and truthful messengers, academics have to follow the basic principles and rules of the academic scientific endeavor. Von Gausteren distinguishes seven “deadly sins” which may serve as a code of best practice for researchers in their quest for scientific truth:

  1. Poor or incomplete description of the work
    (i.e., publishing pretty pictures instead of evidence of causality)
  2. Failure to perform obvious, cheap tests that could confirm or repudiate a model, theory, or measurement
    (i.e., detect additional variables or show under which conditions a model or theory breaks down)
  3. Insufficient connection between data and hypothesis or message, leading to lack of support for the message or over-interpretation of data
    (i.e., rendering the story more sensational or attractive)
  4. Reporting of only favorable results
    (i.e., reporting positive or desired (hoped for) results while omitting those that are negative)
  5. Neglection of errors found after publication
  6. Plagiarism
  7. Direct fabrication or falsification of data

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