Scientific Communication and Ethics

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Course Description

Lectures, discussions and analysis and presentation of case studies in the areas of scientific ethics and communication with the media. Topics in scientific ethics include misconduct, fraud, plagiarism, authorship, intellectual property rights, and academic codes of ethics.

Meetings from 5:00 to 6:30 PM on 20-22 & 27-29 October 2008, in BSP 131.

Discussions led by Dr. Gene E. Likens, Distinguished Research Professor

Course Outline

20 October 2008: Introduction and Organization to Scientific Ethics ― Conduct in Science

Misconduct and fraud 
Falsification of evidence; deletion of “outliers”
Failures of Quality Assurance/Quality Control and methods of validation
Choosing inappropriate methods through ignorance or financial pressure 

21 October 2008: Scientific Ethics ― Conduct in Science

Peer review; challenges for referees 
Power and personal relationships 
Authorship and credit: assigning and responsibility at the beginning 

22 October 2008: Scientific Ethics ― Conduct in Science

Pressure from funders to provide particular answers
Censorship, a growing problem?
Challenges of “advocacy science” – how to  respond?
Resisting pressures and still be successful
Conflict of interest / Codes of Ethics at universities and professional societies 

27 October 2008: What is Scientific Ethical Behavior?

Intellectual Property Rights? 
   Federal Policies 
   Respect for ideas in collaborative research 
   Attribution of ideas 
   “Copycat” research proposals 
   Relationship between a graduate student and a faculty advisor
   Access to data 

28 October 2008: Communication of Scientific Information

Communicating with the public 
Dealing with the media 
  Responsibilities to science and to the environment; dealing with conflicts
  “Least publishable unit”   

29 October 2008: Ethics and Communication of Scientific Information

“Covering the Environment” 
Aldo Leopold – A Land Ethic 

See last year's outline here

Reading list

Alberts, B. and K. Shine. 1994. Scientists and the integrity of research. Science 266:1660-1661. link

Butler, D. 2008. Iranian paper sparks sense of deja vu. Nature 455, 1019 (2008) link

Butler, D. 2008. Entire-paper plagiarism caught by software. Nature 455, 715 (2008) link

Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research. National Academy Press, Washington, DC. Second Edition.

Couzin, J. Truth and Consequences. 2006. Science 313: 1222-1226.

Davis, G. 2005. Doctors without orders. [Highlights of the Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey]. Special Supplement to American Scientist (May-June), pp. 1-13.

Eco-Ethics International Union. [EEIU]

Economist Magazine 2008. Publish and be wrong. October 9, 2008. link

Elliott, Deni and Judy E. Stern (editors). 1997. Research Ethics: A Reader. University Press of New England.

Environment Institute of Australia. 1998. The Ethics of Environmental Research. Proceedings of 1997 Fenner Conference on Environmental Research Ethics. Australian Journal of Environmental Management. Vol. 5, 84 pp.

Fairchild, A. and R. Bayer. 2004. Ethics and the Conduct of Public Health Surveillance. Science 303:631-632. link

Galindo-Leal, C. 1996. Explicit authorship. Bull. Ecol. Amer., October, pp. 219-220.

Gilovich, T. 1991. How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life. Free Press. New York. 224p link

Gladwell, M. 2004. Something borrowed. (Should a charge of plagiarism ruin your life?) The New Yorker, November 22, 2004, pp. 40-48.

Horn, K. 2001. The consequences of citing hedged statements in scientific research articles. BioScience 51(12):1086-1093. link

Institute of Medicine, National Research Council of the National Academies. 2002. Integrity in Scientific Research. Creating an Environment That Promotes Responsible Conduct.

Interlandi, J. 2006. An Unwelcome Discovery. The New York Times 10/25/2006 link

Kaiser, J. 2000. Ecologists on a mission to save the world. Science 287:1188-1192. link

Kempner, J., C. S. Perlis and J. F. Merz. 2005. Forbidden knowledge. Science 307:854. link

Kitcher, P. 2004. Responsible biology. BioScience 54(4):331-336. link

Lawrence, P. A. 2003. The politics of publication. Nature 422:259-261.

Lawrence, P. (2007) The mismeasurement of science. Current Biology, Volume 17, Issue 15, Pages R583-R585 link

Leopold, Aldo. 1966. pp. 237-264. The Land Ethic, In: A Sand County Almanac. Oxford University Press.

Likens, G. E. 1992. The Ecosystem Approach: Its Use and Abuse. Excellence in Ecology, Vol. 3. Ecology Institute, Oldendorf/Luhe, Germany. 167 pp.

Macrina, F. L. 2005. Scientific Integrity. 3rd Edition. ASM Press, Washington, D.C. 402 pp.

Martinson, B. C., M. S. Anderson and R. de Vries. 2005. Scientists behaving badly. Nature 435:737-738. link

Matisoff, G. 2001. Is it publishable? J. Great Lakes Res. 27(1):1-2.

Medawar, P. B. 1979. Advice to a Young Scientist. Basic Books, A Division of Harpur Collins Publisher.

Minteer, B. A. and J. P. Collins. 2005. Why we need an “ecological ethics.” Front. Ecol. Environ. 3(6):332-337. link

Mooney, C. 2005. The Republican War on Science. Basic Books, Cambridge, MA. 342 pp.

National Academy of Sciences. 1997. Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend. [On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering]. National Academy Press.

National Science and Technology Council. 2000. Federal Policy on Research Misconduct. [1]

Park, R. 2000. Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud. Oxford University Press, New York. 230p. link

Resnik, D. B. 1998. The Ethics of Science. An Introduction. Routledge, London. 221 pp.

Schatz, G. 2006. Jeff’s View on Science and Scientists. Elsevier, London. 192 pp.

Shatz, D. 2004. Peer Review. A critical inquiry. Rowman and Littlefield Publ. Inc. NY. 247 pp.

Shea, W. R. and B. Sitter (eds.). 1989. Scientists and Their Responsibility. Watson Publishing International. Canton, MA.

Smith, M. F., V. T. Eviner, K. C. Weathers, M. Uriarte, H. A. Ewing, J. M. Jeschke, P. Groffman and C. G. Jones. 2005. Creating individual awareness about responsible conduct in research: A case study of one institution’s approach for researchers and administrators. J. Res. Admin. 36(1):21-25. link

Steneck, Nicholas H. 2003. ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research. (Office of Research Integrity)

Stokstad, Erik. 2007. ORNITHOLOGY: Gambling on a Ghost Bird. Science 317:888-892[2]

Trevors, J. T. and M. H. Saier, Jr. 2008. Corruption and fraud in science. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 189:1-3.

University of Zurich. 2001. Mission statement. Authorised by the Extended Executive Board of the University of Zurich on 16th January 2001. (Includes brief statement on ethical responsibility). Accessed 22 October 2008. [3]

Warner, J. S., G. M. Lovett and J. Cadwallader. 1991. Scientists and journalists: A primer for scientists who talk to reporters. Bull. Ecol. Soc. Amer. 72(2):116-118.

Young, J. R. 2001. The cat-and-mouse game of plagiarism detection. Chronicle of Higher Education, July 6, 2001. A16. link