The international scientific community governs itself by ethical principles similar to Reed's Honor Principle.
Both communities also deal strongly with anyone who violates these principles. Scientists who break ethical codes often find themselves unable to publish their work, unable to obtain research funding and unable to find laboratory facilities. They are usually asked to leave their jobs and rarely find work again as scientists. Clearly, honorable behavior, is something that both communities value highly.
The Honor Principle is the governing principle for Chem 201/202 and we expect students to adhere to it in all aspects of their work, including lab. To be honorable/honest in lab means:
Making your notebook into an honest and complete record of what you have done. Only write down what you have done and observed yourself. Never alter your record afterwards. Never invent notes for a procedure. Never alter or invent data.
It is not unusual to have an experiment turn out differently from what you may have expected. It is also not unusual to wind up with an incomplete set of notes. Both situations create powerful emotional incentives to alter, invent, and fill in. Recognize that everyone experiences this desire and that it is possible to go on without giving in to it. Instead, come talk with your instructor about how to deal with possible flaws and omissions.
Your lab report describes work that you have done in the lab. It must be based on your notebook and only your notebook. Never use your lab manual as a replacement for an incomplete notebook. If the manual says, "do A-B-C-D," but your notebook only says, "I did A-C-D", then your report must reflect your notes, not the manual. Lab instructors may compare lab notebooks and lab reports for consistency.
From time to time, you may be asked to collaborate with another student or two. Procedures and observations carried out by other students must be properly attributed to them in your notebook and in your lab report. Record their full name and the date of their work.
From time to time, you will be expected to compare your observations with those published in the scientific literature. This literature includes textbooks, handbooks, web sites, journal articles, and so on. All data sources must be properly cited in your lab report.
Copy-and-paste has made plagiarism so easy and quick that many students aren't even conscious of what they have done. Copy-and-paste has made plagiarism so easy and quick that many students aren't even conscious of what they have done. Copy-and-paste ...
And once you paste someone else's work into your document, there is no reminder that these words and figures are not your own. Avoid these temptations. Chem 201/202 lab reports are short and easily prepared. You should prepare them from scratch using your own ideas, words, and figures. If you find it absolutely necessary to quote data, copy graphs or figures, and/or present the ideas of others, you must always properly cite the sources of your information.
- Any activity that prevents other scientists from carrying out their work can be regarded as a form of dishonesty and is unacceptable in our laboratory. This does not mean you need to give up your place in line at a popular apparatus, but it does mean that the following will not be tolerated: breaking, stealing, hoarding, or failing to return shared apparatus; failing to notify an instructor that a shared apparatus is broken; carelessly wasting or destroying reagents; compromising the purity of reagents; intentionally giving out false instructions; engaging in unsafe activities; leaving a mess for others to clean up; deliberately interfering with another student's procedure, materials, or notebook. These are just a few examples of "dishonest" lab behavior that lab instructors (mostly at other colleges) have reported over the years. If something occurs to you that is not on this list, please consult your instructor about the proper way to behave in the lab.
One particularly thoughtful Reedie,
Chris Lowe, ‘82, wrote about the Honor Principle this way (reprinted from “Living With An Honor
Principle”, Reed College, 1995, p. 5):
"...the Honor Principle is not a principle of freedom.
Primarily it is a principle of restraint — self-restraint. It
is an agreement not to act in certain ways."
Self-restraint means choosing to tell only the truth instead of mixing truth and fiction. It means putting a reagent bottle back where you found it rather than leaving it on your desk. It means standing at the Stockroom window to get a spatula instead of taking one from another student's lab bench. It means reporting the actual weight your product rather than the weight you wish you had obtained.
The popular image of Reed College rarely mentions anything about the self-restraint of Reedies. What a pity! In our experience, significant violations of the Honor Principle are few and infrequent. When it comes to academics, at least, the average Reedie is a master of self-restraint and honorable behavior. Our students thoughtfully abide by the same principle that has guided scientists for hundreds of years, the practice of self-restraint. When an entire community practices self-restraint, its members are able to recognize the truth when it appears and trust the truth that appears to others. Judicious self-restraint, in fact, turns out to be liberating.