Ethics Resources

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Professionalism & Ethics Resources for SPS Chapters

The Society of Physics Students (SPS), as the professional society for students of physics as well as the governing body for Sigma Pi Sigma, believes the behavior of researchers is critical for success in individual scientific investigation as well as for the good of science itself.

Researchers engaging in unethical, unprofessional, or dishonest research practices undermine the work of those working towards the advancement of science for the good of society. These actions, whether pursued for career advancement, name recognition, or financial gain, or even out of ignorance, are deplorable and should not be allowed to continue. As a society dedicated to the development of future generations of physicists, it is imperative for SPS to:

  • Demand proper professional behavior of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma members
  • Promote and encourage the inclusion of education in ethics and professional conduct in the physics curriculum
  • Provide instructional materials and other resources for teaching ethics and professionalism to physics students and departments
  • Provide an open forum for discussion of issues related to ethics and professionalism to physics students and their mentors.

The items on this page have been compiled by members of the Society of Physics Students National Council to assist SPS chapters and Physics departments to meet these objectives.

Case Studies and Ethics Resources

These case studies vary widely in scope. The case studies should be used as a means to invite discussion on a wide variety of topics. Consider using them during SPS meetings, during classes on the Ethics of Science, or during departmental seminars or colloquia. It is useful to have a moderator of the discussion that has had to opportunity to consider the case deeply ahead of time because the moderator often needs to play the role of devil's advocate to get the discussion started.

Some of the resources below have notes and commentary to assist the moderators, some do not. Most of the case studies will lead to discussions that last 15 minutes or longer.

In The Press

The Rise and Fall of a Physics Fraudster
Seven years after rumours of massive fraud began to surface, the repercussions of Jan Hendrik Schön’s lies still reverberate. In her new book Plastic Fantastic, abridged and edited here, Eugenie Samuel Reich chronicles how his fraud shook the scientific world.

Speaker's List

The individuals listed below have had experience in moderating case studies and can be contacted for assistance. They can help in planning a session, giving hints to moderators, or even moderating case studies themselves (well suited for departmental seminars or SPS Zone Meetings). Click on their names to contact them via email.

  • degraff [at] (William DeGraffenreid) —Sacramento State University, Sacramento, California
  • sawyer [at] (Lee Sawyer) —Louisiana Tech, Ruston, Louisiana
  • gwhite [at] (Gary White) —American Institute of Physics, Washington DC
  • viano [at] (Ann Viano) —President, Sigma Pi Sigma (Rhodes College, Memphis, TN)
  • cinglefield [at] (Colin Inglefield) —Weber State University, Ogden, Utah

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