What would be unforgivable mistakes in academia i.e. mistakes that would potentially and actually tarnish any possibility of further successes and opportunities in academia?

Specifically those tied with academic sloppiness and misconduct.

  • Same poster asked this question earlier; that one was closed and has since been deleted....
    – user95861
    Commented May 4 at 11:35
  • 2
    I am closing this question since it re-iterates a previously closed question. While this question is a bit more specific, it is upon the community or moderators to decide whether the changes are sufficient. (I think it they are not, but that’s not the point here.) By deleting your old question and simply asking a new one, you circumvent that process.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented May 4 at 11:52
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    As for the question itself, I still strongly recommend that you state your motivation for asking this question, because it will not only focus the question but also lead to answers that are more useful for you.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented May 4 at 11:53
  • I am sorry for my misconduct. I am new to this site and still don't know what is appropriate or not. Thank you for your suggestions.
    – BrajkovicM
    Commented May 4 at 12:05

1 Answer 1


In your title you ask about "sins" and then in the question "mistakes". Then, in the 2nd paragraph, you ask about "sloppiness" and "misconduct". But this conflates a bunch of things.

Everybody makes mistakes of all sorts. You write down the wrong numbers. You cite the wrong paper. You mistakenly put a "not" into a sentence that completely distorts your results. There may be mistakes that are such strong signs of incompetence that they would result in an end to an academic career, but, usually, it requires a bunch of mistakes.

I think "sloppiness" is fundamentally different from "misconduct". Sloppiness, if repeated, might stall your progress, but I know there have been chemists and physicists who were very sloppy in the lab (I forget who, but a future Nobel prize winner was famous for breaking glassware); they got encouraged to pursue theoretical work.

"Misconduct" is different. Lying about your results. Abusing other researchers (unfortunately, this doesn't always get punished, although the situation is getting better), stealing another person's work (aka plagiarism). Violating ethical codes, such as by experimenting on people without their informed consent. That sort of thing.

Sometimes, the punishment can be retroactive, even after death. One example is Asperger's Syndrome, which is no longer a favored label for the condition, because Hans Asperger was an enthusiastic Nazi and eugenicist. (That is, he did not just join the Nazi party because someone said "join or we shoot you"; he actually believed this bilge).

  • I upvoted, but I think your final paragraph should be edited. According to both the German and the English wikipedia page (who give different sources for this claim), Asperger was not a member of the NSDAP. Moreover, there does not really seem to be agreement on what was his precise attitude towards national socialism. Commented May 4 at 17:11
  • If you Google "Asperger" and "eugenics" you will find a lot of evidence, and not just from loony tunes sites. but from the British Psychological Ass'n, Smithsonian Magazine, the Washington Post, and more.
    – Peter Flom
    Commented May 4 at 18:38
  • I did so. What I found was, in addition to references to numerous disgusting Nazi crimes, a debate as to which degree Asperger was complicit in or was aware of those crimes. The outcome of this debate does not seem as clear as your final paragraph indicates - see for instance this article. I don't have any personal opinion on this specific debate (and until today I did not even know about it) - but given the status of the debate I find it a bit strange to call Asperger an "enthusiastic Nazi" without further qualification. [...] Commented May 4 at 19:47
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    [...] More importantly though, maybe we can at least agree that we should avoid making counterfactual claims on Academia StackExchange? In other words, implying that Asperger was a member of the NSDAP ("he did not just join the Nazi party because someone said...") when he actually wasn't, seems inappropriate. Commented May 4 at 19:47

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