Anderson, Christopher. "Academy Warns Against Slipping Ethics," Science 363 (11 February

 

Anderson, Christopher. "Academy Warns Against Slipping Ethics," Science 363 (11 February
1994), p. 747.

Appropriately enough, "The National Academy of Science (NAS) is worried that researchers are
getting mixed messages about the kinds of scientific misconduct cases the federal government
will pursue. So last week it issued a statement attempting to clarify the meaning of several recent
rulings by government appeals board, reminding institutions to hold faculty members to the
highest ethical standards, and recommending that the government speak with one voice on the
subject."

NAS is concerned that the formalities of the courtroom may be substituted for the ethical
standards thought to be implicit in science. Those "professional standards" have been sorely tried
of late with legal decisions rendered in court-like settings which have resulted in "acquittals" of
persons accused of misconduct. The NAS is suggesting that "professional standards" not be
given over.

Part of the problem is confusion with definitions used by various agencies of government. The
NAS goes to far as to suggest that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
should coordinate the misconduct policies of the various federal science agencies.

NAS addresses itself to universities rather than to government agencies. Some professional
organizations, the Association of American Medical Colleges is specified, plan to release a
handbook on misconduct policies.