Scientists’ 10 Commandments

by Kelle on October 1, 2010

Scientist 10 Commandments (arXiv:1009.4891)
These sound pretty good. But I think there should be something in here about keeping a good lab notebook or record keeping. (via Supernova Condensate.)


  1. Go to your laboratory or your instrument without any pre-conceived ideas. Just register what you saw faithfully.
  2. Report promptly and scientifically. Check your numbers twice before submitting.
  3. Forget about predictions. They maybe wrong.
  4. Do not try to conform or find agreement with others. You may be the first to be observing a new phenomenon and you may risk missing credit for the discovery.
  5. Criticism must be scientific, respectful, constructive, positive and unbiased. Otherwise it must be done privately.
  6. If you want to be respected, respect others first. Do no use insulting or humiliating words when referring to others. It is not in accord with scientific ethics.
  7. Do not cheat. Cheating in science is silly. When others repeat your experiment or observation, they will find that you were wrong.
  8. If you do not know or if you have made a mistake, admit it immediately. You may say: “I do not know but I will find out”. Or “I will correct it immediately”. No scientist knows the answer to everything. By admitting it you are being honest about your knowledge and your abilities.
  9. Do not appropriate or ignore other people’s work or results. Always give credit to others whatever small their contribution may have been. Do not do unto others what you would not like to be done unto you.
  10. Do not stray from scientific ethics.

Ignacio Ferrín, Ph. D.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Sarah October 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm

#6 makes me laugh. Not insulting or humiliating people is not really anything to do with scientific ethics – I think it falls under “being a decent human being” actually. Dito #5 “otherwise it must be done privately”. I prefer my “private” as well as public criticism to be “respectful, constructive, positive” etc. But I suspect it refers to peer review, in which case I agree that reviewers *should* remember that anonymity doesn’t give them the right to be an ass.


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