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Beyond Adversial Ethics

Beyond Adversarial Ethics: Web Resources for Solving Problems About Research Conduct

Beyond Adversarial Ethics: Web Resources for Solving Problems About Research Conduct
Caroline A. Whitbeck, Director, Online Ethics Center for Engineering & Science
Case Western ReserveUniversity

Goals and Evaluation for the Responsible Conduct of Research Modules
Elysa Koppelman, Special Consultant for Research Ethics
Case Western Reserve University

Using the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science
Michael S. Pritchard, Director, Center for the Study of Ethics in Society
Western Michigan University

Beyond Adversarial Ethics: Web Resources for Solving Problems About Research Conduct
by: Caroline Whitbeck
Case Western Reserve University
Copyright © 2001 Caroline Whitbeck

The Online Ethics Center (OEC) started in 1995 under a grant (#SBR-9511862) from the National Science Foundation and is currently operating under a renewal grant (#SBR-9976500). In 1997, it moved with me from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to Case Western Reserve University. The OEC is the primary science and engineering ethics Web site. It now has about 3,000 Web pages. We continually update our links. Our policy is to annotate all our links, so users don't waste their effort going down blind alleys. Any of you who have materials in science and engineering ethics that you would like other people to know about, please send us the URL for the material with an appropriate annotation for it.

Some regular users of the Online Ethics Center download the whole site and use that copy on their computer. I have brought such a copy of the site on my computer to demonstrate the materials in my talk today.

You can see that at the top and left of each page there is graphic that provides certain general information and menus of links to all the major sections (indicated by the colored tabs) and minor sections (listed in the top left-hand corner of each page). At the top of each page is a link labeled "text version" that enables you to go to a version without any of the graphics. The text version is useful for people with limited vision who want to increase the font size of all the text, even the information contained in the graphic. It is also useful for those who are printing out OEC pages. People may freely print out and use our materials for classroom use or other purposes that are both educational and non-commercial.

Notice that among the minor sections are: a bibliography, a glossary of terms, a list of organizations and their acronyms that contains links to the Web sites of the organizations.    A list of other science and engineering ethics Web sites. We also link to other Web sites that are relevant to particular topics, as appropriate throughout the Online Ethics Center. A fair number of our pages are also offered in Spanish translation. We have a great many other sections in addition to the research ethics section that I will be discussing today.

The OEC has an Ethics Help-Line co-sponsored by the National Institute for Engineering Ethics to provide experienced peer counseling to those facing ethically significant problems in science and engineering. We have an experienced team of counselors. Some of those on the team had run the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Ethics Hotline. Most of the questions to the Help-Line are about research practice or engineering practice.

Some of our pages contain materials that are unique to the Online Ethics Center; other pages we maintain contain materials that are also available elsewhere. For example, we maintain copies of some codes of ethics and guidelines containing ethical standards for research practice and for treatment of human subjects. The OEC also has links to other major sites that have materials on responsible conduct of research, including human subjects protection and animal research subjects.

For example, we have information on the National Town Meeting that was held as part of the public comment activities for the new Uniform Federal Policy on Research Misconduct. We show what parts of the draft policy came up for (favorable or unfavorable) comment at that meeting-  . We add an annotation to many things we put up, to help people find their way through the subject.

Let's go to the materials we have that you won't find on-line elsewhere. Let me start with the research ethics cases and commentaries. Those of you who were in Vivian Weil's session yesterday heard her discuss these materials and give you some examples from it. These are cases that were worked up by graduate students who were participating in workshops run by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. There are now five volumes. We have three volumes posted in the OEC and will soon receive and post the fourth and fifth volumes.

Many of us who are involved in this project have also taught the responsible conduct of research in formal courses, in informal settings, in seminars and speaker series. Often, as good as those are?and some of them are still being offered at Case Western Reserve University?they address only students. As Judith Swazey said yesterday, the trick really is to teach the faculty. It's not that most faculty members need the basics. Very often, they know the basics. In fact, they often have a very sophisticated understanding of how to behave, but they don't know how to talk about it and transmit their understanding to their students. Students often do not know how to approach their advisors with questions about research conduct.

Part of our purpose is to create the circumstances in which those discussions will take place. We are not just transferring information. The learning situation we offer is far removed from that of individuals memorizing regulations and taking a test on them- the approach that is often used to acquire and demonstrate knowledge of the ethical requirements for research with human subjects. All of these modes of education have value, but we are focusing on education that develops awareness, discretion and judgment of departments, laboratories and other research communities as well as the individuals in them. The goal is not merely to ensure that everyone is following the rules but to strengthen the investigators' ability to address the host of subtle issues of research practice. Strengthening the investigators' ability requires improvement of the group recognition of and support for norms appropriate to particular research contexts, and development and transmission of the ability to devise ways of satisfying many potentially competing demands simultaneously.

I started this mode of education over 10 years ago in the computer science "area" of the electrical engineering/computer science department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with the then "area chairman" (roughly, the head of graduate studies for computer science), Albert Meyer. The micro-systems area of EECS took it up and made it their own. The basic goal is to develop education for all members of a department that will be taken over and become a part of the life of the department. The method may change somewhat in the process. It is more useful for the department to develop both standards of conduct that suit the character of the research, conventions and practices (e.g., journal practices) in their disciplinary area, and the means for group mentoring of their students, than it is for an outsider to have long-term responsibility for education in the responsible conduct of research. Elysa or I run a few a sessions and demonstrate how to replace lectures and case presentations with problem-solving of problems common to the group's research practice. We model how keep the session focused on problem-solving, rather than in disputing over what value trumps what, or taking sides in the conflicts described in the scenarios.

The problem-oriented presentation of material is very important; that is, we ask people to solve problems together. We use an active learning approach; that is, we generally start by giving people some experiential materials, some scenarios presenting problem situations they wrestle with. We realize that few people are going to do the reading until they become engaged in solving the problems. On-line readings for each topic are on the Web, along with a selected bibliography on the topic.

A method we usually use is to put together a collection of scenarios that present plausible practical problems in the topic area, such as authorship, reviewing articles and grants, or the supervisor-trainee relationship, and send them out by e-mail. The scenarios do not have to be discipline specific, but the majority of them have to present problems that would be plausible in that discipline. We also invite participants to submit other scenarios for discussion. They would send these to me by e-mail. I then remove identifiers from them and they are included among the scenarios handed out at the session. It means that participants who have an issue they think the department needs to discuss can send it in. (Some students who submit scenarios prefer not to have their names associated with the scenarios.) As valuable as it is to have the new scenarios, it is valuable just to ask people if they would like to add scenarios, so they understand that the session is about addressing the problems they face.

The advance distribution of the scenarios is important to build interest in the sessions. The scenarios present problems that participants might face day-to-day. Some attend because they are curious about the situations, or because they are looking for better answers to those problems, or they want to share their hard-earned experience, or because they wish the department would come to a common understanding, or even because they don't want the department to come to consensus without their input. Ideally the department adds to our store of scenarios and eventually takes over running the discussions.

The department provides the refreshments. The scenarios and invitation usually go out under the signature of the department head with the names the members of a panel who will start the discussion of the scenarios. Respected figures in the department are asked to serve on the panel. (Sometimes a department will want to put a difficult person on the panel to ensure that the person comes and takes part.) If we are considering a topic like the supervisor-trainee topic or authorship, we make sure we have at least one experienced student or other trainee on the panel.

Let's look at a few scenarios. Here is one on the subject of the reviewing and editing. The scenario says that you are asked to review an article that contains a proof and become intrigued by the topic. After a few weeks, you come up with a shorter and better proof. You feel clear about your recommendations about the publishability of this result. What, if anything, do you do with your better proof? (Robert Dynes gave a somewhat similar case in his talk yesterday.)

You can see that our Web page statement of the scenario also has links to interpretive comment from two people in different disciplines that both produce theorems. The first is in computer theory, the second in statistics. The two disciplines each bring different expectations to the scenario. The difference in expectations is due in part to a difference in the two disciplines over the relative significance of having any proof of some theorem as compared with having an elegant proof of a theorem. This difference illustrates the point that we are seeking to strengthen the skills of groups for solving ethical problems, not come up with a new set of rules that apply to all investigators.

Here's a scenario from the responsible authorship module. It was recently given to us by Gerald Saidel, professor in the biomedical engineering department at CWRU. One student is initially to be the first author of an article. The journal to which the article is submitted requires some revisions, however, and another student works on the manuscript. Now who should be included as authors, and what order should the authors be listed?

One of the things that participants learn from one another in the module session where we discuss the scenarios is the variety of things that may be underlying the situation described. That discussion helps both the faculty and trainees to learn:
… What factors are morally and practically relevant?
… What sorts of things one should inquire about in such a situation, and how might one do that?
… When you're faced with prima facie evidence that is somewhat ambiguous, what potential pitfalls do you need to be wary of?

Sometimes participants will want immediately to issue a judgment on the situation or the individuals in it. It may take a bit of time for them to see that we are trying to understand the situation and the uncertainties in it, not jump to one conclusion or another. We try to help the group engage in wise deliberation, and demonstrate how reasonable and responsible people deal with ethically significant problems about the conduct of research. The goal is to increase the group's ability to discern what's going on and to make intelligent and responsible queries in a situation, and to learn from each other.

Often the first time we lead a module with a department, some faculty approach the gathering with the attitude that this is going to be simple. They think the departmental faculty will say how research is supposed to be conducted, and the students will learn. Then the faculty members start to discuss how to respond to the scenario situation, and they may find out that they disagree about at least some of what you would do. That's a major bit of learning. When they discover the scope and limits of their areas of agreement, they begin to decide how much latitude there is for acceptable variation in research conduct, and what is simply out of bounds. This clarification is often very important for the students who are frequently confused by the differences among the research conduct of the faculty members.

I emphasize that we are not seeking to provide an algorithm for coming to a judgment about the rights and wrongs in a particular case, although we often do make reference to some clear ethical standards in exploring the problem. Our purpose is rather to prepare a community to discuss these things with one another so that they can take wiser approaches and prevent many later problems. Serious conflicts or wrongdoing in research is much easier to prevent than to resolve once they've occurred.

To take a completely different module topic, you will see we have several modules on research with special groups of subjects. For example, we have one on research with children and another on research with human biological materials. We chose these topics both because of the need for educational materials on these topics and partly based on what we had special expertise at CWRU to do. We wanted to address topics to which we could make a special contribution.

Here are some scenarios from the module on the relationships of supervisors (or "mentors") and their trainees. This one is about a student who is finishing a dissertation. The professor who is the thesis supervisor has some outside consulting and asks if the student would like to earn some extra money by creating some computer code for the consulting project. The student doesn't feel free to refuse. The scenario is written from the position of another student who is trying to get the first student to speak up. Well, this can raise all sorts of issues. Some are quite subtle. For example, why is it that foreign students are less likely to refuse when those requests are made? Because they are often in a more vulnerable position: if they lose their research assistantship, they can't readily borrow money and stay in the program, as a U.S. student could. I use that just as an illustration of the kinds of things that may come up in these discussions, and that you want to be prepared for, if you are leading sessions with these scenarios.

In the scenario on consulting, we put in an additional piece of information: some universities do not allow faculty to hire their own thesis students in their consulting to prevent situations such as this one. We do add some references to organizational responses and good practices that prevent some of the problems we describe. If your university or department has some good practices, please let us know about them, so we can post them on the Web pages.

Here is one on bias on the part of a supervisor. It is written from the standpoint of a student whose parents come from a country that has centuries-old enmity toward the country of origin of the student's thesis supervisor. The student notices that students of the supervisor's ethnicity get invited more to meet visiting scientists and participate in other career opportunities. The student is getting a good technical education, however. What, if anything, should the student do? How would the student even raise this kind of issue?

Here is one on gender issues. Sometimes when your advisor is talking about research with you and other students (all the rest of whom are male), he walks into the men's room, continuing the conversation. The guys follow him in and you are left out and have to hope that one of the male students will fill you in later. I added to this scenario many things that were happening in the particular university for which I first wrote this scenario. All the scenarios are based on compilations of real incidents, although not all of them happened together, nor did they always happen to one person. A new scenario can sometimes raise consciousness about an issue, and sometimes the raising of consciousness is enough.

Here is one about a student who thinks he is finished with his dissertation but is told by his advisor that he must do a lot more work. This turns out to be the all-time favorite scenario. This was created by an undergraduate student of mine, Todd Riggs. It is relevant in disciplines like history as well as scientific fields. Very many participants recognize the situation. One Nobel Prize winner at Princeton said he knew the people involved.

We provide some variations on our method. For the "endless dissertation" scenario, we provide some additional questions to help raise some consciousness about the supervisor-trainee relationship issues. When we offer the authorship module, sometimes we vary the method from the panel-led discussion. One of the methods is to have student trainees interview one or more potential supervisors. Postdocs already have their supervisor, but it is useful with beginning graduate students. It became a required activity for the new students in computer science within the EECS department at MIT, when I offered the modules there. Albert Meyer and I created sample questions for those interviews. If the supervisors did not like these questions, they could take it up with us, rather than the students. Now, of course, the questions are on the Web, so students at other institutions may be able to use them to start their own conversations with their thesis supervisor or departmental advisor. That may make it easier for students at other institutions to get answers to these questions.

Some faculty may refuse to answer the questions, of course. Indeed, in collaborating on an ethics statement on responsible research conduct for an illustrious scientific group, I recall one collaborator saying that there was no way he would let his students ask him these questions on apportioning credit. He said that if trainees were going to work with him, they would just have to trust him. I think we do need to make senior investigators more articulate. Sometimes a faculty member refuses to discuss things with students because he or she doesn't know how to speak about the issues. Some very smart investigators don't know how to begin to talk about research conduct. They don't like to do something badly. What they don't know how to do well, they avoid doing at all, unless they are given an opportunity to learn.

We found that if we provide the students with a list of questions, none of our faculty?I should say none of the MIT EECS faculty, who are the first ones with whom we did this?none of them objected. Some even said that after a few years of having the discussion in interviews by the new computer science students, they now had the same discussion with all students, from whatever department, who wanted to work with them. It is very important to give the faculty the questions ahead of time, so they will be prepared when the students come to interview them. When it comes to educating the faculty along with the trainees, I find the groups to have similar needs and interests. The main difference is that the faculty know more than they know how to talk about, and they are often more wary of looking stupid.

Let's now hear from Elysa Koppelman about the participant evaluations of the module sessions that we have done so far.

Goals and Evaluation for the Responsible Conduct of Research Modules
by: Elysa Koppelman
Online Ethics Center in Science and Engineering

Some of you are probably thinking you're going to have to figure out fairly soon how to bring your institutions in compliance with the new U.S. Public Health Service requirements with regard to training in ethics. And of course you want to do something that's not just going to comply, but that's going to work. Some of you might already be doing some kind of education in the responsible conduct of research and are interested in figuring out whether what you are doing is working. So I want to talk a little bit about the way we've started to evaluate our modules, in light of the goals that we have in offering them.

We have essentially three main goals that we hope to accomplish by offering these modules to different departments. One goal is to help the members of a lab, department or research group to become more articulate and reflective about their own practices. Second, we are hoping to help them learn about the practices and standards of other members of the group in which they work, or of the scientific community in general, or of authoritative bodies in their field of research. And, finally, we hope to increase the frequency and effectiveness of discussions about the responsible conduct of research within research communities.

So our evaluation is set up to try to determine if we're meeting these goals. What we do is, we ask students and faculty to fill out evaluation forms at the module sessions, and then we plan to follow up six months later with another evaluation form. As Caroline said, we're only 14 months into our 37-month project, so some of the modules are being developed and presented for the first time, and our evaluation data is pretty preliminary. We've also developed and refined our instrument over time, so that makes it even more preliminary. But as a result of a number of these kinds of factors, most of our data right now comes from students and trainees. We don't have enough yet from faculty members to draw substantial conclusions from the data, but I'll mention a few things that were of interest, anyway.

I have some data from two modules that we did with the chemistry department, using our preliminary evaluation tool, which you don't have in front of you. But most of the data that I'm citing is going to come from two modules that we gave to 42 biomedical engineering students, and one from the research with children module that we gave 16 pediatric residents.

So one goal, as I mentioned, was to expose people to the practices and standards of other members of their group. Questions 7 through 9, if you have the faculty evaluation form, the yellow one, and 7 through 12 on the student or resident form, are meant to measure the success of this goal. Our initial data is showing that the majority of students reported they learned something new about how their supervisors thought about the particular topic of the module session; about the ethics of children or about the supervisor relationship or responsible authorship, for example. An overwhelming majority of students learned something new about how faculty, other than their own supervisors, think about the particular topic of the module session.

Another goal is, of course, to increase the effectiveness and frequency of discussions about the responsible conduct of research. This goal can't be met if the discussion that takes place in the module, itself, isn't perceived to be relevant and realistic. So for the last question on each of these, we asked whether the participants thought the scenarios that they read and discussed during the particular module were relevant or realistic. An overwhelming majority of the pediatric residents thought that at least most of the four scenarios were relevant to their situation.

The supervisor-trainee module has significantly more scenarios that cover a wide range of graduate student experiences in a wide range of fields. On this evaluation, we had asked participants to rate each of the scenarios on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being "very relevant" and 1 being "not at all relevant." Of the 32 biomedical engineering students who answered that question, most said that at least two of the scenarios were "very relevant," as indicated with a 5 on a 1 to 5 scale. They indicated that many of the others were "relevant" and "somewhat relevant," assigning, say, a 4 or a 3 to them. Rarely did students rate a scenario with a 1, saying that it wasn't relevant at all. Based on the few responses we have from faculty, the vast majority perceived the scenarios as being very relevant.

Now, the way students rate the scenarios in any given module, and this one in particular, may depend on factors like where they are in their graduate careers or what type of research they're doing. In our initial evaluation form, which has since been modified, we asked the open-ended question: "Did you perceive these scenarios as being relevant, and which ones did you think were most relevant?" We did this for chemistry students, and one student responded, "Relevant, good scenarios. However, more scenarios should be oriented towards second- and third-year students." Another student said, "I thought all of them were very relevant topics, except the first one. In my field of research, we have enough time before a symposium to talk with our advisors." So it may be a reflection of where they are or what field they're in.

A significant number of students in chemistry thought that the scenario called "Oops," which is about a student who keeps breaking expensive lab equipment, was extremely relevant. A significant number of biomedical engineering students indicated that the scenario on switching advisors was very relevant. To determine the frequency of discussions about the responsible conduct of research, whether they're increasing, we of course need to know how often they were taking place before the module was given. So questions 1 through 5 on the faculty evaluation and questions 3 through 7 on the student evaluation were meant to find this out.

According to our data thus far, only half of the students report having had discussions about the responsible conduct of research with their supervisor during the six months prior to the module session. About one-quarter report having discussed the particular topic of the module with their supervisors—for example, the supervisor-supervisee relationship—with their own supervisor. One-quarter said, "I discussed this with my supervisor." Rarely do students report talking about the responsible conduct of research with faculty other than their supervisor. About half of the students report discussing issues in the responsible conduct of research with other students, both in general and with respect to whatever module that we were giving them that particular session.

One thing interesting to note, although our current methodology doesn't permit a test of this question, is that some of our evaluations seem to indicate that faculty thought they were talking more frequently with their students about the responsible conduct of research than students thought they were talking to their faculty. So if this is the case, then it might indicate that an understanding of what even constitutes a moral discussion or a moral problem differs among people, and that sitting down together to have such discussions could prove to be helpful in this area, also.

We also asked participants whether they expect that discussions will increase as a result of participating in this kind of exchange. About half of the students expect that such discussions with faculty will increase, and about 70 percent expect an increase in such discussions with fellow students. So about six months from now we will contact people to find out if their expectations were correct. We're also going to ask them, in our follow-up questionnaire, whether the nature of their discussions about the responsible conduct of research has changed.

The answers to these two questions will hopefully give us an indication about whether we're reaching our third objective, which is whether participants have become more articulate and reflective about their own practices.

If discussions about the responsible conduct of research have increased, then this is a case that people are starting to think more and become more reflective about what they're doing on a day-to-day basis, and the kinds of ethical decisions that they're faced with, and that they want to discuss this with other people. And if the nature of the discussion has changed, then depending on how it has changed, this may indicate that they have become more articulate.

Using the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science
by: Michael S. Pritchard
Western Michigan University

I want to say just a few things from the standpoint of a contributor and user of the Online Ethics Center for Science and Engineering. I think this is a very exciting development with the research ethics modules that you're developing, and I think what's really nice about the Web site is that as you're developing your products, so to speak, other people can participate in it. So this helps the evaluation process and the quality of what's there. And I think that, in general, ethics in science and engineering is a very dynamic, rapidly developing and changing area or set of areas. One nice thing about the Web site is that you can put something on, and you can change it. You can add to it. You can modify it. I think that's very important.

I want to give a couple of other examples that I've been involved in. About five years ago, I was invited to join Ted Goldfarb, who is an environmental chemist at Stonybrook, to work on an ethics in science project. Ted was conducting summer institutes for high school and middle school science teachers, with the aim of helping these teachers come up with good ways of integrating ethics into their regular science classrooms. This was at the pre-college level, and a very innovative, exciting endeavor.

I was invited to be a consultant on the project, and so I went to these institutes and participated with 25 teachers each year. I was very excited about what I saw the teachers doing. One of the things they had to do was develop some lesson plans that they would take back to their schools, try them out in the classroom, and come back later in the year and meet as a group and talk about them.

This went on for three years. At the end of that time, Ted and I thought: Well, this is very exciting and very good —75 high school and middle school teachers from Long Island. What about the rest of Long Island? What about the rest of the United States? What about other places that might be interested? So we decided, since we both had sabbatical leaves coming up, that we would create an instructional guide for teachers; and we would try to represent, as best we could, the kinds of things that went on in the institute.

We structure the text around these questions: Why bring ethics into science? Does it belong there? What are some of the teaching problems that one has? What are some good case studies, real cases, that help to emphasize this? What about really good sample lesson plans that teachers can take into their classes and try out? So we put all of this together. And then the question was: How do we get it out to the rest of the world so they can see it?

The standard way is to publish a textbook. We thought about that for a while, but then we consulted with some leading science educators around the country, and their suggestion was: Put it on the Web because teachers will look for things like this. They'll find it, and they can use it immediately. So that's what we did. And we have a little corner on the Online Ethics Web site. If you go to the education tab, you can find the pre-college materials. There you will find the equivalent of 180 pages of hard copy text there and some other materials. Also, we invite teachers, or others who are interested in this area, to make their own contributions.

At this point, I'd say we're just beginning, and Ted and I will have to work pretty hard, I think, at getting teachers, the people who are actually using materials in the classroom, to contribute to this, to help it to grow. I find this to be very exciting, and the turn-around time is very short. If there are bad things there, they can be changed. If there are things that are missing, they can be added. If there are people who would like to join in this effort to try to figure out better ways of bringing ethics into the classroom, they can join.

There is another section on the Web site called "Moral Leaders." I'm particularly interested in this, because for a long time the cases that I used in my engineering ethics classes were basically negative ones, failures, breakdowns, wrongdoing and the sort. And I thought at some point: If things can go badly, can they go well? And what would it be like to have good stories about exemplary practices? There were doubters who thought: You can never come up with anything very interesting; we're only interested in the bad stuff.

But in fact, Fred Cuny, who is featured there, was in the news a few years ago, initially because of work that he and his associates had done in Sarejevo in restoring the water system so that people wouldn't have to retrieve pails of water from the river, which was heavily polluted, and wouldn't have to walk through the sniper zone. That is a very exciting story, and Fred Cuny's entire career was devoted to disaster relief work as an engineer. In Dallas, he established a disaster relief agency that employs engineering skills.

In the second edition of a textbook on engineering ethics that I've written with C. E. Harris and Michael Rabins there are features on Fred Cuny, William LeMessurier and Roger Boisjoly, three of the moral leaders presented in the Moral Leaders section of the Web site. What about if we want to talk about some other people? Well, there are six people in that section right now, and the way in which the stories are presented is a good supplement to what we have

A third connection I've had with the Online Ethics Web site involves a research ethics project that the National Science Foundation has supported, involving graduate students in the sciences. I've had the privilege of being one of the faculty members in this project. In each of the past five summers there has been a summer institute on research ethics at Indiana University for graduate students from around the country. One of the products of each institute has been a volume of case studies and commentaries developed by the students and institute faculty. These volumes are now on the Web site. We could have tried getting a publisher to put these out, so two or three years later they would have been out. But this delay seemed unnecessary and, given the uniqueness of the project, undesirable. Most of the workshops that have been conducted on research ethics have been for faculty. Ours was for graduate students. What we quickly learned is that the perspectives of graduate students add a valuable dimension to the problems of research ethics—a dimension that deserves immediate attention, rather than having to suffer through the delays of the standard publication process

Finally, a few years ago Michael Rabins (Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M) organized an NSF supported summer institute to develop case studies in engineering ethics that involve numerical analysis. Very few of the published case studies in engineering ethics require numerical analysis. But what about ethical problems that arise when one is in the middle of a technical problem that requires numerical analysis? How can engineering faculty help their students integrate ethical reflection into their technical analyses? The institute brought together more than 20 engineering faculty, along with a few ethics faculty, to develop case studies that could be placed directly into standard engineering courses. More than 40 cases were developed and placed on the Texas A&M engineering ethics Web site. They are now also on the Online Ethics Web site, making them more readily noticeable to a wider audience.

Of course, as useful materials are developed in various places, they can be put on local Web sites. However, making them directly available on the Online Ethics Web site contributes significantly to their becoming known by and made use of by a much greater number of faculty, students, scientists, engineers and others who are interested ethics in science and engineering.


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