I. Thou shalt not fake
II. Thou shalt not exaggerate
III. Thou shalt not cover up
IV. Thou shalt not make others fail
V. Thou shalt credit
Once you have started with the “good enough” attitude, the standard will continue to slide and you will become a hack. If you start embellishing a little you will get even more lightweight over time. Deceiving others becomes a trivial act when you have already deceived yourself.
If there is 6% of some impurity in your product, you should write on the label that the product is less than 94%. The compounds you give out represent you; “good enough” won’t do when your reputation and self-respect are at stake. It is better to spend extra few hours on columning the material or growing gorgeous crystals and putting a pretty label onto a clean bottle in the end – if not to impress others then at least to re-assure yourself that you are still not a phoney like some people that you know. You should not pass unfinished work with irreproducible procedures and optimistic yields – and in doing so transform your problem into somebody else’s problem. Your colleagues tend to remember if you have pulled this kind of stunt on them.
Also, there is allways enough credit to go around and you must mention everybody who did some work for your project no matter how routine the work was. The ideas are cheap – only few percent of all that you can possibly think of can be tried out. There is no good way of knowing beforeheand which idea is really helpful; what turns research ideas into results is the tedious examining one thing after another untill finally one of them pays off.
When in doubt, remind yourself about the original reasons for which you went into chemistry – before the grind of the graduate project and the corporate absurdities took over. All the things – the things in the lab that you can see and smell and think of – are they still exciting and dear to you?