The Consituttion of The American Physical Society states that the objective of the Society shall be the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics. It is the purpose of this statement to advance that objective by presenting ethical guidelines for Society members.
Each physicist is a citizen of the community of science. Each shares responsibility for the welfare of this community. Science is best advanced when there is mutual trust, based upon honest behavior, throughout the community. Acts of deception, or any other acts that deliberately compromise the advancement of science, are therefore unacceptable. Honesty must be regarded as the cornerstone of ethics in science.
The following are minimal standards of ethical behavior relating to several critical aspects of the physics profession.
Fabrication of data or selective reporting of data with the intent to mislead or deceive is an egregious departure from the expected norms of scientific conduct, as is the theft of data or research results from others.
Plagiarism constitutes unethical scientific behavior and is never acceptable. Proper acknowledgement of the work of others used in a research project must always be give. Further, it is the obligation of each author to provide prompt retractions or correction of errors in published works.
Peer review can serve its intended function only if the members of the scientific community are prepared to provide thorough, fair and objective evaluations based on requisite expertise. Although peer review can be difficult and time-consuming, scientists have an obligation to participate in the process.
Privileged information or ideas that are obtained through peer review must be kept confidential and not be used for competitive gain.
Reviewers should disclose conflicts of interest resulting from direct competitive, collaborative, or other relationships with any of the authors, and avoid cases in which such conflicts preclude an objective evaluation.
It should be recognized that honest error is an integral part of the scientific enterprise. it is not unethical to be wrong, provided that errors are promptly acknowledged and corrected when they are detected. Professional integrity in the formulation, conduct and reporting of physics activities reflects not only on the reputation of individual physicists and their organizations, but also on the image and credibility of the physics profession as perceived by scientific colleagues, government and the public. it is important that the tradition of ethical behavior be carefully maintained and transmitted with enthusiasm to future generations.
Physicists have an individual and a collective responsibility to ensure that there is no compromise with these guidelines.