“On Being a Scientist” is a well-written informative guide that can be used as primer grounds for beginners and professionals. It is a very useful tool for students like me who likes to pursue the dream of becoming a successful scientist someday. Topics on responsibilities of scientists, values and ethics in science, advising and mentoring, research misconduct, laboratory safety, authorship and the allocation of credit, conflict of interests, the behavioural expectations within the disciplines and the roles of scientist in the society were briefly but concisely presented. The knowledge I got here is exactly a building foundation that can lead me to my success in the scientific world. Moreover, the elaboration of unspoken scientific etiquette is especially the one thing that I find extremely useful, even outside the scientific community. Knowing about these situations can prevent misunderstandings and hard feelings among teachers and students. I remember in high school when our research adviser hasn’t spoken with us for one whole week for no reason at all. Now, I know better. Maybe she is just testing us on taking the responsibility in approaching her with or without questions or problems to consult, just merely updating her with the status of our research. Respect for our adviser is essential, not to look at her as a mere consultant but as a mentor. Of course, falsification, fabrication and plagiarism are fundamentally immoral. These are basic forms of cheating and as stated in the student code, cheating is punishable by expulsion. After graduation, these forms of cheating are already considered a crime and can put one into jail. Furthermore, “On Being a Scientist” presents ethically challenging case studies as a further reflection for us. These awkward situations can sometimes cause a downfall for a scientist thus calls for a serious action. On the subsequent pages, I shall give my opinions and insights on each one.
Case Study 1: Change of Plans
The relationship between student and adviser can directly affect the condition of thesis. It is very important to establish a good working relationship not only to our advisers but also to other members of the laboratory. The keyword is communication. The first case is about Joseph, a Ph.D. student who planned to apply for a research position in a company because he assumes that his research adviser would agree that one semester would be enough to finish his thesis but unfortunately his research adviser thought otherwise. He was advised to spend two more semesters to satisfy his desertion committee. Joseph wonders if his research adviser might have other hidden agenda. A valuable lesson that I acquired here is simply not to assume about what others might be thinking. Asking questions is essential to know better about a person’s personality. A small chitchat that is not thesis related may be done before or after the laboratory work. So what should be Joseph’s next big step?
Option A is to change his adviser’s mind on his own. He can present his measurements and try to convince him to reconsider. But this would take a lot of courage and unless he is able to talk calmly, courteously and reasonably, this can also cause further possible discomfort between them especially when his adviser would disagree for the second time. Option B is to talk to other members of the committee to get their opinions and make them as instruments in changing his adviser’s mind. Well, it is a lot easier to convince the other members of the committee because maybe they are a lot adjacent to his age. Joseph can get their help in confronting his adviser and trying to convince him to reconsider. Option C is to agree with his adviser since his advices from the past have helped him a lot. The additional semester can also be another opportunity to learn new information and knowledge. He can also utilize the first semester to impress his adviser which...