Research Ethics and Responsibilities




Macrina, F. 2000. Scientific Integrity, Second edition. American Society for Microbiology, Washington, D.C.

Class Format:

Each class will be divided into sessions covering different topics. Class sessions will typically be organized as follows:

If you are absent from a class, a make-up paper on the topics covered during the missed class will be required. Failure to make-up for a missed class by turning in the required paper or more than one absence will result in an unsatisfactory grade.

Make-up papers should be 5-7 pages (typed, double-spaced, 1 inch margins). The paper should focus on the topics missed, describing relevant issues, potential problems, and acceptable practices. The textbook and online materials should provide the background for the paper. Any references used should be cited. Following the discussion of the topics, the paper should also apply the principles discussed to the case studies presented in the missed class (copies can be obtained from one of the course instructors). The paper should be of suitable clarity and perspective that it would provide a concise overview of the topics to a reader who is unfamiliar with the topics. The paper will be evaluated by the instructors, and if it is not of acceptable quality it will be returned to be rewritten.

Grades will be based upon attendance, participation, and short writing assignments.


Session 1:

  1. Ethics
    1. Ethics
    2. Authoritaranism vs Utilitarianism vs Deontology
    3. Ethics vs morality

  2. Science and society
    1. Scientific ethics
    2. Scientific integrity
    3. Scientific misconduct and fraud
    4. Social perspectives of science and scientists
    5. Responsibility of scientists to society
    6. Complex questions of right vs wrong

Session 2:

  1. Reporting problems
    1. Harassment - Individual expectations and rights
    2. Academic misconduct
    3. How and where to report problems
    4. Questions and discussion

  2. Mentor-student interactions
    1. Graduate research
    2. Lab styles
    3. What is expected of a mentor?
    4. What is expected of a graduate student?
    5. Case study - Mentor vs student conflict

Session 3:

  1. The results of research
    1. Notekeeping
      • Verification
      • Repetition
    2. Data ownership
      • For federally funded research, the institution legally owns the data
      • Most responsibility for the data delegated to the Principal Investigator
    3. Legal ramifications - The Baltimore case
    4. Case study - Who owns the data?

  2. Scientific communication
    1. Presenting your work: seminars and publications
    2. Allocation of credit
    3. Authorship
    4. Case study - Authorship

Session 4:

  1. Evaluation of scientific research
    1. Grant proposals
    2. Peer review of manuscripts
      • Editors
      • Ad hoc reviewers
    3. How ethical problems arise
      • Financial conflicts
      • Intellectual conflicts
      • Personal conflicts
      • Confidentiality
    4. Case study - Peer review

  2. Laboratory Safety and Compliance
    1. Basic Laboratory Safety
    2. Biohazards
    3. Recombinant DNA
    4. Hazardous chemicals
    5. Transfer of etiologic agents
    6. Radioactivity
      • Safe handling of radioactive materials
      • Regulations
    7. Laboratory animals
    8. Bloodborne pathogens
    9. Human subjects
      • Informed consent
      • Institutional Review Boards (IRB)
    10. Case study - Unauthorized experiments with lab animals

    Session 5:

    1. Expectations of the University
      1. Conflict of interest and conflict of commitment
        • Conflict of commitment - external activities that interfere with an individual's responsibility to the University
        • Conflict of interest - situations that may benefit an individual or the individual's family to the detriment of the University
        • Conflict of interest disclosure
      2. Intellectual property
        • Intangible - ideas, inventions, discoveries
        • Protections - patent, copyright, trademarks, etc.
        • Intellectual property rights
          • If conceived or developed by an employee or student during work or on University business - University retains ownership of inventions
          • Traditional academic work done independently on the individual's own initiative - individual retains ownership of copyright
          • Work done as part of assigned University duties - University retains ownership of copyright

    2. Expectations of funding agencies
      1. Research funded by Federal agencies
      2. Research funded by industry
        • Expectations from industry
        • Terms and conditions (examination, publication delay, rights of first refusal)
        • Co-mingling of funds
      3. Questions and discussion

    Session 6:

    • Planning for Your future
      1. Career paths
      2. Introduction of guest speakers
      3. Short presentations
      4. Group discussion



    Please send any comments, suggestions, or questions to:

    Last modified July 9, 2002