Ethics in Mathematics Research
This is a summary of the American Mathematical Society's Ethical Guidelines, adapted to those engaging in a senior project at Stetson University. Failure to adhere to these standards is a breach of the Stetson Honor Code.
- Ideas obtained from other people, through reading books or papers, by listening to talks, from personal correspondence, or in conversation, must be credited to that person. Even if you substantially extend the idea or apply it to a different situation, you must cite the original idea.
- Because of the issue of credit, keeping up in one's field is not only the mark of a good mathematician, but of an ethical one. All projects, papers, and talks done for a grade should describe the source and background of the problem, give the names of contributors to the problem, and cite relevant papers.
- Mathematics is very much a social activity. Major conferences, small seminars, and private professional discussions are the lifeblood of research. You are expected to talk about your work. On the other hand, the quantity, quality, and originality of your research are major components of your grade. Students should be careful not to "steal" each other's work. You should be aware of what others are working on and how it relates to your topic. Faculty have an obligation to do the same. Sometimes one must walk a fine line.
- Stetson faculty are expected to freely discuss their research interests and ideas with all students in order to help students find interesting projects. They are also sometimes willing to work on a suitable problem posed by the student. A student should not take the idea of one faculty member and propose it to another without the consent of the first faculty member.
- New results are often disseminated informally, in talks or preprints, so as to keep everyone up to date. New ideas presented in this fashion are the property of the author. If his or her idea is used prior to formal submission, proper acknowledgment is still due.
- When writing or speaking about mathematics, you should not intentionally suppress the work of others, nor improperly detract from that work. If you discover an error in your own work, you should attempt to correct it or withdraw it. Do not announce results you don't yet have; and once announced, results should be submitted in a timely fashion.
- All of the above is doubly important if you intend to publish your results in an academic journal. If you discover you have achieved the same result simultaneously with someone else, it may be appropriate to offer or accept joint authorship. The mathematical community does not recognize "independent discovery" based on ignorance of well-known results.
- The AMS statement also addresses other issues, including that of equal opportunity: "Mathematical ability must be respected wherever it is found, without regard to race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religious or political belief, or disability."
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