Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Undergraduate Science Education Program
at the University of Delaware

Research Ethics Cases

Most cases written for research ethics programs and workshops deal with issues that don't affect undergraduates directly.  The three case studies briefly described below were written for use with undergraduates who are beginning researchers. Teaching research ethics to novice researchers is important but also challenging. In particular, there are many ethical issues related to the transition from the classroom laboratory to the research laboratory. Student perceptions of acceptable behaviors differ for the two environments as has been documented by Del Carlo and Bodner (2004).  Arkright-Keeler and Stapleton (2007)  provide some useful resources for teaching research ethics. Mabrouk (2007) offers a template for teaching ethics. Another important article in this area is by Wright (1998) in which various types of research malpractice are presented in terms of undergraduate laboratories.

Linked Cases:
Tripped Up
Undergraduate Ernest Lee discovers that his results are too hot for public consumption and is told by his superisor, Dr. Greene, that he cannot present his research at a national meeting because they aren't ready to publish yet. (Scripted for role playing)

Helping Hand
Jill, pressed for time to write a proposal for summer research funding, is advised by a graduate student to transcribe parts of her research supervisor's recent grant proposal. The review committee deliberates on whether to fund her proposal.

Organic Reactions
Madge discovers that the project she has been working on is being published without her name because her research supervisor thinks her contributions do not merit coauthorship.

Daryl L. Arkright-Keeler and Susan Stapleton (2007) Education Resources for Guiding Discussions on Ethics in Science. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 35, 24-47.
Dawn I. Del Carlo and George M. Bodner (2004) Students' Perceptions of Academic Dishonesty in the Chemistry Classroom Laboratory, Journal of Research in Science Teaching 41(1), 47-64.
Patricia Ann Mabrouk ( 2007) Introducing Summer High School Student-Researchers to Ethics in Scientific Research: A Case Study-Based Workshop, Journal of Chemical Education 84(6), 952-954.
Paul M. Treichel (1999) Ethical Conduct in Science-The Joys of Teaching and The Joys of Learning, Journal of Chemical Education, 76(10), 1327-1329.

Last updated 18 February 2009
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