There are two categories of ethical behaviour which affect the MIP. The first and most often discussed, includes those principles which encourage working for the welfare and prosperity of society: “Ethics for High Days”. The second consists of those principles which regulate one's everyday working practices: “Everyday Ethics”. It is with the latter that this paper is primarily concerned. Especially is it concerned with the fact that in everyday work one finds that sound ethical principles conflict with each other. Because of this, doubt arises whether it is worth establishing a formalised code of professional behaviour. After reviewing the pros and cons the author concludes that there are sufficient benefits to justify formulating a code though it will be useful mainly for public relations and for defending one's right to act in a professional manner. A number of ethical conflicts the MIP may encounter are reviewed, especially those in which modern information and communication technologies may play a part. [Since both men and women are MIPs, the words “he” and “she” will be used indiscriminately in the text] “And being exceedingly credulous would stuff his many letters sent to A.W. with fooleries and misinformations, which sometimes would guide him into the paths of error.” Richard Barber (ed.), Brief Lives by John Aubrey. London: The Folio Society, 1975, p.11. In his introduction to this recent edition of Brief Lives, a 17th century classic of English literature, Barber was quoting a description of Aubrey's work as an information searcher for one Anthony a Wood (A.W.), an Oxford antiquary. If Aubrey is a typical example of our predecessors, it is just as well that nowadays there are professional societies of information scientists and documentalists dedicated, inter alia, to maintaining proper professional standards. Indeed, as those who have read it will know, Brief Lives itself, Aubrey's masterpiece, is little but a very scrappy, not wholly reliable, set of short biographies of many eminent men of that century, Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh among them. No modern information worker (or biographer) would be allowed to get away with a piece of work like it. Nor, I fear, would his more worthy product achieve such lasting fame. The problems of how thorough to be and when and whether to submit partial results are ones that affect information workers today just as much as in the 17th century, perhaps more so since professional time is very costly. So do a great many other problems which have an ethical component within them. In this paper I want to look at some of the everyday issues which members of the profession may face and to see whether the new communication technologies have made them easier or more difficult to resolve or even raise new problems.
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