I am a postdoc doing Theoretical Physics in Europe, and I would like to know what a person at this stage in his/her career can do to actively promote ethical standards in its community. Precisely, is there any association in Europe for postdocs that are interested in this and works on it? The reason behind my request is the desire to do more for my present and future colleagues and it is rooted in my personal experience. Despite my young career, which so far has been judged as very successful by my peers, I have been exposed for years during my PhD to constant and several unethical dynamics by my supervisor and close colleagues. For example, while working together, I have been asked on several works not to reference the equations we were using and to present them as originals; I have been asked to lie during talks and not to cite the colleagues we should have cited only because they were judged as "not close"; etc... The list could continue. The main issue is that this was not the act of a single person, but the main ethic of the group I was working with. A group, which has to be said, is recognised as extremely influential and respected by the scientific community. To be honest, it felt as if I was working at Theranos, a nightmare for a young researcher full of hope. I have tried in good faith to oppose these dynamics during my PhD, but as a result, I have found myself isolated and tagged as "difficult". There are even colleagues that I have met for the first time, who simply judged me based on these rumours and treated me as someone to avoid. This hasn't stopped me from going forward and keep up with my research but my reputation is getting hurt by the words of these people and the objective unfairness of this situation is getting difficult to deal with. I feel I have to do something because these dynamics could affect everyone and can have the harmful effects of damaging or even ruining the career of young researchers. It would be extremely helpful if any of you could give me any advice on the best way to react. My sincere hope is that nobody else will have to go through what I have been through, and that's why I feel I need to do something about it. Moving on, pretending that nothing happened, possibly exposing new people to the same fate...I can't do it. So here is again my question: are you aware of any association in Europe for postdocs in physics that are interested in ethical issues and works on it?

  • 3
    Welcome to Academia.SE. I recommend that you edit your post to introduce paragraph breaks. You may also want to review our policy on shopping questions: we can't recommend particular organizations (though there's likely a question here somewhere that we can answer).
    – cag51
    Apr 17 at 23:37
  • I'd guess most professional societies have groups that deal with ethical issues in the field.
    – Buffy
    Apr 17 at 23:56
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    In case you're not doing this already, you may want to keep personal records with full details of some of these incidents. For example, in the case of references to equations not being included -- specific individuals communicated with and the dates of communication, mode of communication (email, in person, etc.), paper being worked on in which the equations appear, papers/books which you think should be cited but were told not to cite, etc. This is simply because over time you'll forget things or not have the desire to fully fill in the details. Details like this might be important later. Apr 18 at 11:24
  • Regarding my previous comment, I strongly advise you to keep all these details to yourself to prevent burning bridges. I'm simply suggesting that you have access to most any detail or nuance that you might be challenged with if, for some reason at a later time, you wind up having to defend yourself. Ideally this would never happen, and you simply diplomatically distance yourself from the problematic researchers and don't look back. Apr 18 at 11:33
  • @DaveLRenfro OP doesn't want to just distance him/herself from them and not look back: "Moving on, pretending that nothing happened, possibly exposing new people to the same fate...I can't do it."
    – gib
    Apr 18 at 19:48


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