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How useful is ethics class?

PhD students and postdocs who get training in responsible conduct in research (RCR) don't absorb the lessons, especially when they've seen others break the rules before, according to a recent linkurl:report;http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=0898-9621&volume=15&issue=1&spage=30 in the journal __Accountability in Research: Policies & Quality Assurance.__ Main message: Getting rules in ethics classes is useless if the scientific community doesn't obey the rules, too. The auth

By | January 14, 2008

PhD students and postdocs who get training in responsible conduct in research (RCR) don't absorb the lessons, especially when they've seen others break the rules before, according to a recent linkurl:report;http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=0898-9621&volume=15&issue=1&spage=30 in the journal __Accountability in Research: Policies & Quality Assurance.__ Main message: Getting rules in ethics classes is useless if the scientific community doesn't obey the rules, too. The authors write, "The absence of enforced rules that are agreed to by the entire scientific community makes achieving adherence to a purported standard very difficult." The authors interviewed students who participated in RCR lectures. Excerpts of interviewer (I), participant (P) comments are available via the blog linkurl:Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship.;http://writedit.wordpress.com/2008/01/11/street-vs-book-rcr-smarts/ The following is one example of where the "absence of enforced" or specific rules, such as courtesy or honorary authorship, makes some ethical standards seem open for interpretation: __I: How do you feel about courtesy authorship or honorary authorship? P: I'm for it. I: You are? P: I think in some situations. I've worked with people in the last few years who are known in the field a lot more than I am because I'm starting and actually I was thinking about writing up a paper, and in this situation, I think sometimes if you can put their name on a paper, even if it has a small contribution and then it goes to a journal where they've seen their name before, sometimes that can be the difference, whether it diminishes your work or not it gives you a better standpoint. (Ph.D. student with prior informal RCR training)__ Questions of who deserves authorship are raised every time any scientist publishes, but some researchers have developed clearer criteria for their own labs. Read __The Scientist's__ article on how some labs are "Bringing Order to Authorship, " linkurl:here.;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53743/. First author Richard Mcgee and colleagues conclude that responsible conduct of research training will only be successful if taught in context of what researchers have already learned, and it should be reinforced frequently. If young researchers see a lack of consistency in how the scientific community deals with authorship they are likely to "refused to accept [a higher standard of authorship]." Look out for our February issue, in which C. Neal Stewart Jr. and J. Lannett Edwards discuss their approach to teaching a successful research ethics class.

Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 23

January 15, 2008

As a professional staff member at a university authorship was not something I was evaluated on or was expected to do. I did publish a one paper and was listed on a few more. I was more appreciative and went the extra mile for those that acknowledged me in papers than those that didn't. Good will is commodity that is worth giving acknowledgments to even minor contributors and even listing them as authors buys lots of it. Hogging the lime light and ignoring what the contributor sees as substantial work can earn you a life time of ill will.\n\nThere is old saying that, "friends come and go but enemies accumulate." So I feel it's wise to make as few enemies as you can and you seldom make one by giving them credit.\n\ngc\n
Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

January 16, 2008

Corrupt environments are not cured with mere words. Would anyone think the stock market would be even close to honest if big names like Boesky weren't prosecuted and put in jail? \n\nThe cure is law, serious consequences and auditing. Because without auditing, nobody gets caught except once in a blue moon. Criminal studies have shown over and over that: \nA. Penalties must be commensurate with the crime.\nB. Perception of risk of being caught is what deters the herd.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 5

January 16, 2008

Could you please post the details of the original report - the upenn link is not helpful to those of us not at upenn.
Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

January 16, 2008

Ethics in science goes far deeper than this. It cuts to whether data is correct or even manufactured or copied from something unrelated. It covers whether cites used as support for statements actually support those statements. It covers retaliation against those who come forward with unwanted results. It covers whether a lab member will publish what is known to be true if doing so will shut down the lab. It covers stealing of grant ideas and even text. \n\nFertilizing author lists with big names that did little or nothing is the least of what goes on in science. Like finance, science needs to be kept honest.

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