APS News

APS Council Approves Statements on Subordinates and on Referencing

At its April meeting, Council continued its involvement with ethical issues. Two additional statements relating to ethics were passed, one on the treatment of subordinates, and one on proper referencing practices in journal articles. The statement on subordinates is posted on the APS web site. The statement on referencing appears there also as a supplement to Statement 02.2: Guidelines for Professional Conduct.

The texts of these two statements follow.

Statement on Treatment of Subordinates

Subordinates should be treated with respect and with concern for their well-being. Supervisors have the responsibility to facilitate the research, educational, and professional development of subordinates, to provide a safe, supportive working environment and fair compensation, and to promote the timely advance of graduate students and young researchers to the next stage of career development. In addition, supervisors should ensure that subordinates know how to appeal decisions without fear of retribution.

Contributions of subordinates should be properly acknowledged in publications, presentations, and performance appraisals. In particular, subordinates who have made significant contributions to the concept, design, execution, or interpretation of a research study should be afforded the opportunity of authorship of resulting publications, consistent with APS Guidelines for Professional Conduct.

Supervisors and/or other senior scientists should not be listed on papers of subordinates unless they have also contributed significantly to the concept, design, execution or interpretation of the research study.

Mentoring of students, postdoctoral researchers, and employees with respect to intellectual development, professional and ethical standards, and career guidance, is a core responsibility for supervisors. Periodic communication of constructive performance appraisals is essential.

These guidelines apply equally for subordinates in permanent positions and for those in temporary or visiting positions.

Statement on Referencing Guidelines

Authors have an obligation to their colleagues and the physics community to include a set of references that communicates the precedents, sources, and context of the reported work. Proper referencing gives credit to those whose research has informed or led to the work in question, helps to avoid duplication of effort, and increases the value of a paper by guiding the reader to related materials. It is the responsibility of authors to have surveyed prior work in the area and to include relevant references.

Proper and complete referencing is an essential part of any physics research publication. Deliberate omission of a pertinent author or reference is unethical and unacceptable.