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Book Review On Being a Scientist Responsible Conduct in Research.

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The Shape of Things to Come
Molecular Modeling of Inorganic
Compounds. By P. Coniba and I: W
Hambkoj*. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft,
Weinheim, 1995. 197 pp., hardcover
DM 188.00.---ISBN 3-527-29076-1
If the maturity of a subject can be
judged by the number of textbooks describing it, then this contribution by Comba and Hainbley
certainly marks a
TIW Hambe
most distinguished Molec&rModeIing
start for inorganic
molecular modeling. I t is a nicely
extensive, and readable
account of empirically based computational approaches
to the structure and energetics of inorganic species although. by their own
definition. the title should have been
“Molecular Mechanics for Inorganic
Compounds”. since there is no coverage
ol‘ electronic structure methods whether
semi-empirical or ab-initio.
The text is essentially divided into three
sections. After a general introduction.
Part I (Chapters I - 5 ) deals with the theoreticaljmatheinatical basis of molecular
mechanics (MM). Part I1 (Chapters
6 - 14) with various applications, and
Part 111 (Chapters 15---17) with a series of
practical tips and guidelines for doing calculations and interpreting results. References are collated independently for each
part and are comprehensive, although the
layout leads to repetition and Refs. 288
and 289 from Part I1 are missing.
The material in Part I is reasonably
straightforward but is nicely presented.
well oi-ganized and absolutely necessary
This section coii~iiiiisbook reviews a n d a list of
new books rrceiwd hy theeditor. Book reYiews are
written by iiivit~itioiifrom the editor. Suggestions
for books 10 be reviewed and for book reviewers
are welcoine. Publishers should send brochures o r
(hettcr) hook\ 10 Dr. 1lleiior.a Beckmann. Redaklion Angewand1c Cheniie. Posrfach 10 11 61,
D-69451 Weinheim. Germany The editor reserves
the right of \electing which book5 will he ireviewed.
Uninvited book\ i i o t chosen for revieh uill not be
for a text which assumes no prior knowledge of the subject. Probably the most
salient point which emerges in Part I (and
is consistently repeated throughout) is
that individual force field (FF) parameters need bear no relationship to their
spectroscopically determined counterparts. The FF parameters need to be taken as a whole and judged on their ability
to reproduce global quantities such as
molecular structure. The individual ‘ideal’
bond lengths. ‘ideal’ angles. force constants, etc. are not physically meaningful
in themselves.
The real meat of the text is contained in
Part I1 where an astonishing diversity of
applications is sampled, ranging from
computing structures for molecular visualization, through to estimating enantioselectivities; from racemate separations
and stereoselective synthesis to metal ion
selectivity; from combining M M calculations with spectroscopic measurements to
electron transfer reactions; from the
Jahn-Teller effect to bioinorganic chemistry. organometallics, and s-, p-. and fblock systems.
The applications naturally focus on the
authors’ own contributions, mainly in
transition metal chemistry. but this still
gives a remarkably wide and varied coverage--a testimony to their pioneering role
in this area. Together with selected examples from organometallic, main group
and f-block chemistry, the reader can certainly get a feel for the kinds of systems
and properties which can be modeled.
In many ways most of Part 111 becomes
almost self-evident from reading Parts I
and 11. but the authors take the time to
discuss some of the practical pitfalls encountered when attempting to apply M M
to inorganic molecules, especially transition metai systems, and while not being an
out-and-out plug for their program system MOMEC. one assumes it would be a
good vehicle for putting their philosophy
into practice.
The ultimate message is clear and definitely upbeat. M M can work even within
the richness and diversity of inorganic
chemistry provided you recognize its interpolative nature and work within this
constraint. This may be restrictive and
may also require the user to develop a
force field if none already exists for the
systems of interest. While this may not
always be for the faint-hearted, the authors make a compelling justification for
the success of M M and it is encouraging
to see just what can be achieved.
Overall, this book will appeal both to
the active research scientist and to the intellectually curious and is required reading for all those with an interest in theoretical approaches to inorganic systems.
Robert J. Deetk
Inorganic Computational
Chemistry Group
Department of Chemistry
University of Warwick
Coventry (UK)
On Being a Scientist: Responsible
Conduct in Research. Committee on
Science, Engineering, and Public Policy; National Academy qf Sciences;
National Academy of Engineering;
Institute of Medicine. National
Academy Press, Washington, D.C.,
1995. VIII, 27 pp., paperback $ 5.00
(single copy); $4.00 each (2-9
copies); $2.50 each (10 or more
copies) plus $4.00 for shipping and
handling.-ISBN 0-309-05196-7
According to Frank Press. past president of the U S. National Academy of Sciences: “Traditionally, young scientists
have learned about the methods and values of scientific research from personal
contact with more experienced scientists,
and such interactions remain the best way
for researchers to absorb what is still a
largely tacit code of professional conduct”. Recently. however. the increasing
size of research teams and the accelerating
pace of research have rendered such informal transmission of values insufficient.
Furthermore, the familiar “mad scientist” image is a false stereotype fostered
and encouraged by films, television, literature, and the sensation-seeking mass media. From the unrealistically optimistic
view of science and scientists as purveyors
of unlimited “better things for better living” (the motto of E. I. du Pont de
Nemours and Company), a backlash
against science has come to pass with a
vengeance, as scientists are blamed for
technological disasters such as Three Mile
Island, Bhopal, Chernobyl. and current
environmental problems such as pollution. the greenhouse effect. acid rain. the
erosion of the ozone layer by CFCs. oil
spills. and the proliferation of pesticides
and nuclear weapons and nuclear wastes.
In addition to all the above negative
views, recent allegations of fraud in scientific disputes at the highest levels have
provoked a questioning of the ethics of
scientists and technologists. as what the
public regards as their presumptuous
curiosity and search for scientific truth
lead to disaster. when scientists alle_gedly
fail to foresee and take responsibility for
the results of their research and development.
To deal with these problems. in 1989 the
U.S. National Academy of Sciences published a short but important booklet.
On Being a Scienrist, prepared by the
academy’s Committee on the Conduct of
Science. Written primarily for beginning
graduate and undergraduate research students and printed in a run of more than
200000 copies, the largest ever commissioned by the academy, it sought “to
describe some of the basic features of a
life in contemporary research and some
of the personal and professional issues
that researchers will encounter in their
In order to incorporate the important
developments in science ethics during the
past half dozen years. such as new policies
and procedures established by research institutions and government agencies for
dealing with unethical behavior. a new,
updated version of the original booklet
has been prepared. For example, it includes new material on guidelines for research conduct and related matters taken
from Responsible Science: Eiisuriiig the
Integriry of‘tlw Research Process (National Academy Press, Washington. D.C.,
Vol. 1, 1992, Vol. 2, 1993), a thorough
analysis of scientific misconduct prepared
by the Panel on Scientific Responsibility
and the Conduct of Research under the
Committee on Science. Engineering. and
Public Policy of the National Academy of
Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. It reflects
suggestions from readers of the first booklet, instructors who used it in classes and
seminars, and graduate students and professors who commented on drafts of the
This booklet of practical advice answers questions that are fundamental. but
usually neglected in courses. such as: how
should anomalous data be treated‘? how
much confidence must a researcher have
in the results of a particular experiment
before publishing a paper? how much of a
contribution should a researcher or faculty adviser make before being listed as
coauthor? how can scientists avoid selfdelusion in making observations’? how
should errors in papers be corrected?
what are the borderlines between honest
error. negligent error, and misconduct?
what should a researcher do when he or
she suspects a colleague of scientific misconduct ‘?
Among the topics discussed are scientific method. treatment of data. the relation
between hypotheses and observations.
peer review. recognition and priority in
discovery, replication and the openness of
communication, scientific progress, the
social foundations of science. experimental techniques. values in science. publication and openness, allocation of credit.
authorship practices, error and negligence, misconduct, responding to violations of ethical standards. the scientist in
society. and patent procedures. To be
sure. these topics are dealt with in greater
detail in specialized monographs, such as
those listed in the booklet’s three-page annotated bibliography, but rarely are they
found in a general pamphlet short enough
to be read from cover to cover in an hour
or two. Science is depicted throughout as
a human endeavor with all its virtues and
defects; historical examples aboundfrom Galileo to scientists who release
their results directly to the public through
a press conference (cold fusion is discussed. although Pons and Fleischmann
are not mentioned by name).
A very useful, provocative, and effective means of illustrating research ethics
that was lacking in the first version is the
inclusion of nine hypothetical scenarios,
ranging in length from one to three paragraphs. These deal with conflicts arising
when the black-and-white. clear-cut areas
of science meet the gray. more ambiguous
areas of human values and biases. Each
scenario is followed by three questions on
how to deal with the problems and issues
portrayed, viz., selection of data, conflict
of interest, industrial sponsorship of academic research, sharing of research materials. allocation of credit, publication
practices, fabrication in grant applications. plagiarism, and informing on a colleague (“whistle-blowing”). A three-page
appendix at the end of the booklet offers
guidance in thinking about, discussing. or
debating the scenarios, but the scenarios
remain open-ended. and no definitive answers or specific ways of dealing with the
situations are given. This stance is in accordance with the authors’ belief that “research ethics is not a complete and final-
ized body of knowledge. These issues are
still being discussed, explored, and debated, and all researchers have a responsibility to move the discussion forward”.
This attractive and well-planned booklet deals with fields of science from astronomy to zoology and abounds with
provocative case studies such as the discovery of pulsars, the location of spiral
nebulae. eugenics, the rejection of Mendelian genetics in the USSR, and polywater.
Pertinent quotations from scientific authorities such as Albert Einstein. Barbara
McClintock, Peter Medawar, Alvin Weinberg, and John Ziman are included.
usually in sidebars. The booklet’s contents will undoubtedly be used as a basis
for discussion and debate in undergraduate or graduate classes or seminars on
research ethics, research methods or
statistics, and the history. sociology. o r
philosophy of science as well as in meetings of scientific societies in general, or
those that aim to develop ethics policies or
Although this booklet was written
largely with an American audience in
mind, it deals with matters of vital concern to the global scientific community.
Moreover, in addition to being a sine quo
no12 for scientific novices, it provides lessons of great value to all scientists at all
stages of their scientific careers. As the
preface points out, “in particular, senior
scientists have a special responsibility in
upholding the highest standards for conduct, serving as role models for students
and young scientists. designing educational programs, and responding to alleged
violations of ethical norms. Senior scientists can themselves gain a new appreciation for the importance of ethical issues by
discussing with their students what had
previousiy been largely tacit knowledge”.
Furthermore, in view of the current
prevalence of anti-scientific prejudice
among citizens who are increasingly
called upon to vote on issues with a considerable scientific o r technological component, the general public could certainly
benefit from the booklet’s lucid explanation of the nature of science as process as
well as product and the limitations of science and the provisional nature of its findings.
In the past, our department has presented our graduating chemistry majors
with a year’s subscription to a scientific
periodical. This booklet should make a
gift of equal o r even greater value.
Geoyge B. Kaufrman
Department of Chemistry
California State University
Fresno, CA (USA)
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