Ethics & Medical Communication
"About Ethics..."".... all of us should take part in discussions of authorship ethics." (1)
(1) Witte FM. Authorship ethics: a clash of cultures. In: Witte FM, Taylor ND, eds. Essays for Biomedical Communicators: Volume 2 of Selected AMWA Workshops. Bethesda MD: American Medical Writers Association; 1997:93-101. (Available for purchase from AMWA at <www.amwa.org/default.asp?id=182>.)
Q: What does "ethics" mean?
A: Ethics refers to accepted codes of professional conduct, and one of the definitions of ethical in Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, is as follows: "conforming to accepted standards of professional conduct." Individuals who comport themselves to the duty and obligation of following "the standards of codes of expected by the group to which the individual belongs" (1) are said to be ethical. The term ethos refers to a description of the values that pervade the atmosphere of a social group.
The subtle distinction between ethics and morals is that ethics refers to accepted codes of conduct, whereas morals refers to personal beliefs about what is right and wrong. (2) A medical writer's morals might or might not be consistent with the ethics of his or her profession. Sources differ in their definitions of ethics, ethos, and morals. For this reason, the definitions provided here are intended to be a simple way to introduce discussing medical writers ethics rather than as an authoritative way to discuss ethics, ethos, and morals themselves.
1. Kayne R. "What Is the Difference Between Ethics and Morals?" <www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-ethics-and-morals.htm> Accessed July 4, 2009.
2. ibid. to What Is the Difference Between Ethics and Morals?
AMWA's Ethicsand Medical Communication Resources