It is extremely important to be honest and to not manipulate data, just because your results don’t look good enough. Even more, since we get money from charity, we have always to remember that it’s more important the reason why we are doing research than try to help our career in a dishonest way.
I think that morals are very important for scientists – and for everyone else. Most of us don’t have to make major moral decisions every day, but sometimes we really have to think about the research we are doing and whether it is the right thing to do. Are we researching the right things, and could we harm anyone with our research or the things we find out?
The main thing I have to be careful of in my work is making sure that people’s personal details which they generously share with us, to help other people, are kept completely confidential.
Being honest and open in your research is vital. Take the recent case of the autism and MMR hoax. The scientist behind that (Andrew Wakefield – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wakefield) was not honest about his research methods and results, and in fact collected his data in an extremely unethical way.
As a result, he caused an enormous drop in trust in a hugely important vaccine – in turn causing several cases of potentially very dangerous measles in children. When the journal that published his work found out about how dishonest and unethical his work had been, they removed the paper from the journal records and disassociated themselves from the work. As such, he is now not only completely disgraced as a scientist, but has also endangered the lives of children across the UK.
So – morals are VERY important for scientists! Fortunately the scientific method has lots of safeguards built in to it to try and weed out fraud and dishonesty.
Yes, I think that morals are very important for all scientists. We should always consider the morality of the research we are doing and of how we do the experiments. But it’s not always clear cut… for example, the scientists who developed the first atomic bomb could be seen to have acted immorally because they developed a weapon that killed something like 100,000 Japanese people when the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But if you look at it differently, the scientists acted morally because the bombs brought about the end of the second world war.