Professional ethics in academia: defining the categories of behavior spectrum in matters of unethical conduct

  • Niraj ShenoyEmail author
Open Access

The problems of bullying and other unethical behavior in Science are known to most researchers. Victims are most often young investigators and trainees. Defining the categories of human behavior spectrum in academia in matters of unethical conduct may help facilitate change. Open image in new window

Academic professional ethics needs to be a part of scientific curriculum regardless of discipline. Students need to be taught to recognize the different categories throughout their academic careers and to aspire to belong to category H.

The color spectrum (red to green) position of the leadership determines that of the institution/ organization, given the direct influence of leadership on the proportion of each category. It is nearly impossible for an organization to be ethical with an unethical leadership.

Bystanders far outnumber the oppressors and victims in most situations of abuse/ intellectual theft/ scientific misconduct in academia. The lack of bystander guilt from inaction enables unethical behavior and leadership. The above categorization of behavior spectrum would hopefully impress upon bystanders, their critical role in ensuring justness within an institution.

The problem of unethical behavior in academia cannot be solved unless there is a widespread acceptance of its presence, and a willingness to confront it. Policies preventing institutions from conducting sham investigations need to be implemented by regulatory bodies (Nik-Zainal and Barroso 2019).

Perhaps Science needs a #MeToo movement.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


  1. Nik-Zainal, S., and I. Barroso. 2019. Bullying investigations need a code of conduct. Nature 565: 429. Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine (Oncology)Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical CenterBronxUSA

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