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Oaths play a prominent but poorly understood role in guiding ethical behavior in a number of communities. They provide multiple functions: 1) a point of departure for new professions, often accompanied by public ceremony, 2) a statement of commitment to ideals and purposes, 3) a behavioral template providing guideposts for ethical decisions, and 4) a mechanism for building shared values. In the past 23 years over 15 oaths for scientists have been presented in the literature. A careful analysis shows that they are quite diverse, and although some basic elements are found in common, there is also a wide diversity of issues that are only sporadically represented. Strengths and weaknesses of existing oaths are discussed along with an overall evaluation of criticisms that have been put forward regarding the usefulness of oaths in modifying behavior. A new Scholar’s Oath is offered which takes the strongest qualities of existing oaths into a context that could potentially be applied to a large population of scientists and scholars, particularly at graduation ceremonies.
|Keywords:||Oath, Scientific Ethics, Scholarship, Graduate Education, Scientific Misconduct|
Department of Applied Physiology & Kinesiology, College of Health and Human Performance, The University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA