ACS Resources

International Ethics in Chemistry: Developing Common Values Across Cultures

ACS Symposium Series book (2021) edited by Susan M. Scheible and Kelly M. Elkins 

This work explores ethical issues across chemistry, focusing on chemical organizations and researchers and how they establish policies and educational strategies for professional ethics. Chapters focus on intellectual property, codes of conduct, relationships with employers and government, and safety in the laboratory and workplace.

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Ethics and Chemistry

Blog post (September 18, 2020) by Kelly Elkins, Division of Professional Relations 

Ethics education is important and paramount in becoming a professional. Ethics is not the same as moral reasoning. Good people can do bad things. Newspaper articles report on cases in which scientists “mess up” or make the wrong choice in regards to ethical research, publishing and lab safety.  Ethics is as important as chemical laboratory skills and both must be taught. Basic research improves lives through chemistry; the quality of the science and published results is directly dependent upon the adherence to best practices in scientific ethics.

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ACS Inclusivity Style Guide

These guidelines are intended to help users communicate in ways that recognize and respect diversity in all its forms. This is a freely available section of the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication (2020). Access the guide at this link.

The Chemist's Code of Conduct

The Chemical Professional’s Code of Conduct was approved by the ACS Council on March 16, 1994, and replaces The Chemist’s Creed, which was first published in 1965.  The Chemical Professional’s Code of Conduct was most recently updated on August 28, 2019.

The American Chemical Society expects its members to adhere to the highest ethical and safety  standards, as detailed in this link.

Introduction to the Ethics of Scientific Conflict of Interest

Committee monograph (2020) by Patrick Knerr and Ronald P. D’Amelia

Ethics consists of the fundamental issues of practical decision making, such as the standards by which human actions can be judged right or wrong and how to prioritize competing values.  Scientific progress necessitates the ethical conduct of research. A basic working definition of “conflict of interest” is a situation in which a secondary interest, such as financial or other personal considerations, has the potential to unduly influence the primary interest of objectivity in research conduct.

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The Importance of Ethical Conduct in Scientific Research

Committee monograph (2017) by Laurence Doemeny and Patrick Knerr
To become good throughout one’s career, and indeed throughout one’s life, is not a journey with a defined end point, but a continuous process that requires integrity, honesty, and frequent self-reflection.  In the field of scientific research, both innovation and accurate reporting of information are critical to society, and society implicitly trusts scientists and researchers to be ethical and honest in their work. The need for data reliability has become even more profound as technology advances at an ever increasing rate.

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Ethics in Science: Ethical Misconduct in Scientific Research

Book (2018, 2nd edition) by John G. D’Angelo

Providing the tools necessary for a robust debate, this updated edition explains various forms of scientific misconduct. The first part describes a variety of ethical violations, why they occur, how they are handled, and what can be done to prevent them along with a discussion of the peer-review process. The second part presents real-life case studies that review the known facts, allowing readers to decide for themselves whether an ethical violation has occurred and if so, what should be done.

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Scientific Misconduct Training Workbook

Book (2019) by John G. D’Angelo

This unique workbook discusses the areas of ethics and scientific misconduct. It provides assessments and exercises for learners to work through in groups or alone. Completion of the workbook but especially the assessment and tests will earn the learner a certificate for scientific misconduct training compiled by the author, and the certificate is available from the author’s own website. This volume is a companion to the author’s published volume, Ethics in Science: Ethical Misconduct in Scientific Research, 2nd edition, and will appeal to undergraduates, graduates and even high school students.

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Case Studies for Chemistry Ethics Education

The case studies presented in this link are designed to be used as part of ethics education in chemistry.

Case Studies and Methods for Teaching Professional Ethics for Forensic Science Students

Article (2020, vol 2, no 1) by Kelly Elkins and Ibiwunmi Fambegbe in Journal of Forensic Science Education

Ethics is often confused with morals and values. This paper compares and contrasts ethics and morals and discusses approaches to teaching ethics with an emphasis on the case study method. A review of ethics resources for instructors and classroom teaching methods are discussed. Several case studies covering a wide range of ethical issues encountered in forensic science are included.

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Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research

A set of ethical guidelines for persons engaged in the publication of chemical research, specifically, for editors, authors, and manuscript reviewers. These guidelines were developed by the editors of the ACS journals and are reviewed regularly to ensure their clarity.

Find the guidelines here

For a quick reference guide and videos:

Credit Where Credit is Due: Respecting Authorship and Intellectual Property

ACS Symposium Series book (2018) edited by Patricia Ann Mabrouk and Judith N. Currano

This volume is based on the symposium “The Write Thing to Do: Ethical Considerations in Authorship & the Assignment of Credit” held at the 253rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

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Responsible Conduct in Chemistry Research and Practice: Global Perspectives

ACS Symposium Series book (2018) by Ellen Tratras Contis, Dorothy J. Phillips, Allison A. Campbell, Bradley D. Miller, and Lori Brown

This book was both inspired and informed by a symposium The Interface of Chemical and Biological Sciences International Disarmament Efforts held in 2015 at the ACS national meeting in Denver, CO. The intended readership is all chemists, chemistry educators and chemical engineers, particularly those with an interest in the responsible global practice of chemistry, science and human rights, scientific mobility, and international relations.

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