Ethics is a branch of philosophy that studies human behavior and provides rules and guidelines for individuals and for groups distinguishing between wrong and right conduct according to an ideal behavioral model. In this course we discuss ethics in the context of research. General ethical values that apply in everyday life include honesty, fairness, objectivity, openness, trustworthiness, respect for others, confidentiality. Reification of these principles in the research context leads to openness in sharing research results, fairness in reviewing research proposals, respect for colleagues and students, honesty in reporting research results. In this lecture I will focus on ethic principles that are specific to research. Ethical principles lead to professional standards, to which responsible researchers must adhere. Research integrity is adherence to the ethical principles. Violation is instead called research misconduct: that is a departure from accepted practices committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly, proven by preponderance of evidence. Violations can be more or less severe. In any case, they should never be confused with differences of opinions. Violations of research integrity are taken very seriously by the research community. A researcher’s misconduct not only has negative consequences on the individual, but can also shed a negative light on the entire community. We distinguish between ethical principles that apply to research in general, irrespective of the specific investigation area and those that arise specifically due to the subject area and investigation method being followed. The former case mainly refers to the researcher’s conduct in relation with students, peers, own organization, funding body, etc. An obvious example of the latter would be experimentation with humans or animals in life sciences. We start our discussion by focusing on general research ethics principles. The Office of Research Integrity of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services defines research misconduct in the following way: research misconduct means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results. (a) Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them. (b) Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. (c) Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit. The document also says explicitly that research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion. In the rest of this lecture, I will focus the discussion on fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism in performing research and reporting research results. Fabrication is a serious misconduct. Making up data or results and recording or reporting them is simply unacceptable. Careless choice of data and reporting of unsubstantiated or poorly substantiated results can be considered as lesser cases, but they are also unacceptable. At best, they indicate sloppiness. Deliberate falsification is also a serious misconduct. Consider, however, the case where a researcher omits to report data from experiments that may shed a less favorable light on a given research artifact he or she invented. This is bad, but it is a less severe misconduct than deliberately manipulating the data from experiments that would disprove a hypothesis. A similar case is overselling research results, that is claiming that the results achieved have a much higher “value” that can actually be justified. Overselling cannot be considered as a misconduct, but it is a bad practice and should be avoided. A similar kind of bad practice occurs when researchers describe competing approaches from other researchers shedding a negative light on them instead of reporting the differences in an objective way. Let us now look closer to plagiarism, which is a rather common example of a research misconduct, and let us first focus on plagiarism of ideas. This refers to appropriation of someone’s idea in whole or in part without giving credit to originator. An idea can be an explanation, a theory, a conjecture, a research proposal… Plagiarism of ideas may be hard to judge. In some cases, the evidence of a serious misconduct is clear: for example, one hears the presentation of a research proposal by someone, given in a confidential setting, and then uses the same idea and approach to submit a research proposal under his or her name. This is clearly unethical. The other end of the spectrum (that is, no misconduct) would be a case where a very preliminary research idea is expressed in informal discussions among colleagues at a conference and one elaborates on the idea until it becomes a submittable research proposal. Sometimes researchers say that certain research ideas are “in the air”. Researchers should never forget to give credit to peers for previous work upon which they build. For example, suppose you are solving a problem that was solved earlier by another researcher, but you provide a better solution. It would be unfair to attribute all the merit to yourself and publish your solution without giving credit to the previous contribution and without showing what is novel in yours. Plagiarism of text is another common misconduct in research. It amounts to copying a portion of text, possibly with cosmetic changes, from another source without giving credit or enclosing the text in a proper quotation. A special and subtle case is self-plagiarism. This can range from including pieces of text (or figures, or any other material) from a paper into another by the same author, to duplicating the contents of previous papers in a new form, without citing and explaining why. In some cases, there may be a reason for reusing own previous text, which does not qualify as self-plagiarism. For example, in the case of re-stating complex material into a tutorial form, or in the case where a previous conference papers is extended and published in a journal. This sometimes happens for the “best papers” from a conference, where the authors are explicitly invited to submit an extended version. The rationale is that the journal version includes additional material that could not be included in the conference paper, due to space limitations. There are also cases that do not clearly qualify as self-plagiarism, but should anyway be avoided. Sometimes the pressure to publish leads to the “Least Publishable Unit –LPU—syndrome”, whereby researchers submit papers whose contribution with respect to previously published material is minimal, while restatement of previous work takes most of the space in the new submission.