ACS is committed to helping combat the global COVID-19 pandemic with initiatives and free resources. Learn More

Case of the Cheap Chemist

Category 4: Cheating, Dishonesty, Plagiarism


Professor Parsimony, a chemistry professor who is overheard by colleagues telling his graduate students to not waste their money by registering for the national ACS meeting, since ACS doesn’t check registration credentials at the doors to the technical sessions anyway. The students are attending with partial support from departmental travel funds, since the professor has no travel funds to allocate. Professor Parsimony is not attending, but extols the advantages of networking at ACS meetings and encourages these students to make contacts for future post-doc positions.

Stage 1

What action do you think WAS taken by Parsimony's colleagues?

A. His colleagues confronted Professor Parsimony, called him cheap and unprofessional, and demanded that he/she pay for the student registrations.

B. His colleagues asked the department to help pay the registration of Professor Parsimony's students, and reprimand him for his behavior.

C. His colleagues caught Professor Parsimony's students and offered advice counter to that which they were given by Professor L.

D. His colleagues reported Professor Parsimony's behavior to ACS so that he could be brought up on charges before the Ethics Committee.

Stage 2

Which of the following actions do you think SHOULD have been taken?

A. His graduate students should refuse to go the meeting if they can't pay to register.

B. The students should follow Parsimony's advice - after all, he understands how things work (and controls their future?).

C. The students should recognize that what Professor L is recommending is wrong and bring it to the attention of their department chair.

D. Parsimony's colleagues should talk to him about the ethical implications of his advice.

E. The colleagues that overheard the conversation should keep it to themselves.

F. All parties should recognize that it is difficult to have sufficient funding for students during tough economic times.

G. Admit that no-one else pays 100% of registration to attend meetings, so Parsimony isn't out of line.