Research Ethics and Responsibilities

Molecular and Cellular Biology 580
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Spring 2014

The Course Is Not Offered This Year
All information posted is for 2013
I will attempt to maintain links for the resources


Course Organization

Registration: Title: Research Ethics and Responsibilities
Course Rubric: MCB 580
Course Reference Number (CRN): 38677
Prerequisite: Graduate standing in MCB or consent of instructor
Credit: 1 Hour Credit, S/U Grade Only
Time: Wednesday evenings 7:00–9:50 PM, January 23 through March 6, 2013
Place: Chemical & Life Sciences Laboratory Auditorium
Gary Olsen Department of Microbiology, B103 Chemical & Life Sciences Laboratory, MC-110
Martha Gillette Cell & Developmental Biology, B107 Chemical & Life Sciences Laboratory, MC-123
Guest Lecturers (subject to change): Sarah Allison
Peter Ashbrook
Janice Bahr
Stephanie Ceman
C. K. "Tina" Gunsalus
Required Text: Macrina, F. 2005. Scientific Integrity, Third or fourth edition. American Society for Microbiology Press, Washington, D.C.
Course Format: Most weeks class will be divided into two sessions covering different topics. A "typical" session will be:
  • One or more of the instructors will present a general introduction to a topic to the class.
  • An instructor will introduce a case study related to the session topic.
  • Each student will be asked to write a very brief synopsis of the problem and recommended solution (about 5 min). These written assignments will be turned in (generally at the end of class) and used for evaluating attendance. Although they will not be graded, a "satisfactory" level of effort is expected. These assignments must be turned in before leaving the class. Assignments turned in later will not be accepted.
  • One or more instructors will lead a class discussion of the the case study.
Attendance is mandatory. 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. (Because this is a short course, missing 2 weeks would mean missing nearly 30% of the material and discussion. We cannot excuse more than one absence.)

Make-up papers should be 5–7 pages (typed, 11 or 12 point font, double-spaced, 1 inch margins; this means 1500–2000 words). 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. All references used should be cited. (Think about it: this is an ethics course.) Following the discussion of the topics, the paper should 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.
Course Grades: An S/U grade will be assigned based upon attendance, the in-class writing assignments, class participation, and completion of assigned on-line training.

Course Schedule (Spring 2013)
(subject to change)

January 23

  1. Introductory Comments Regarding the Course (presentation as PDF) — Gary Olsen

  2. Ethics (video of presentation, or on UIUC campus, handouts as PDF) — Video of presentation by Bob Wengert, followed by discusion
    Macrina Chapter 2
    1. Ethics: What is it (and what is it not)
    2. Ethics versus morality
    3. Questionnaire on what is ethical versus not (or right versus wrong)

  3. Ethics, Science and Society (presentation as PDF) — Gary Olsen
    Macrina Chapters 1 and 2
    1. Scientific ethics
    2. Scientific integrity
    3. Scientific misconduct: Fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism (full definition)
    4. Fraud
    5. Social perspectives of science and scientists
    6. Responsibility of scientists to society (On Being a Scientist)
    7. Elevating Science, Elevating Democracy — Essay by Dennis Overbye, New York Times

  4. Homework: Complete the NIH training "Protecting Human Research Participants", and bring a copy of the certificate to class on January 30. See details below.

January 30

  1. All students are required to complete the NIH Office of Extramural Research "Protecting Human Research Participants".
    A copy of the certificate should be turned in at this class meeting (January 30th). Please make it a copy, we will not return them.

  2. Animal Use (and human subjects) — Sarah Allison
    Macrina Chapters 5 and 6, and Appendix IV
    1. Laboratory animals
    2. Human subjects

  3. Laboratory Safety and Compliance (presentation as PDF) — Peter Ashbrook
    1. Basic Laboratory Safety (HHMI)
    2. Biohazards (CDC)
    3. Recombinant DNA (NIH)
    4. Hazardous chemicals (UIUC)
    5. Transfer of etiologic agents
    6. Radioactivity (UIUC)

February 6

  1. Dealing with Problems (hanodout as PDF) — C. K. "Tina" Gunsalus
    1. What does it take to be an ethical researcher?
    2. Research misconduct
    3. How and where to report problems
    4. Who you can turn to for support, advice and help?

  2. Scientific Ethics in the News (presentation as PDF, case study) — Gary Olsen

February 13

  1. Scientific Communication: Presentations and publications — Martha Gillette
    Macrina Chapter 4
    1. Presenting your work: seminars and publications
      • Dissemination of knowledge
      • Recognition
      • Priority
    2. Allocation of credit
      • Citing the work of others
      • Plagiarism
    3. Authorship
    4. Materials on presenting your work from The American Physiological Socienty

  2. The Results of Research: Notekeeping and other important issues — Gary Olsen
    Macrina Chapters 9 and 11, and Appendix VI
    1. Notekeeping
    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?

February 20

  1. Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment — Janice Bahr
    Macrina Chapters 7 and 9, and Appendix V
    1. Conflict of interest and conflict of commitment (UIUC)
      • 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 (UIUC)
        • 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. The Decline Effect — Martha Gillette
    1. Readings:
      1. How reliable are scientific studies? — Marcus R. Munafò & Jonathan Flint
      2. Why Most Published Research Findings Are False — John P. A. Ioannidis
      3. The Truth Wears Off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method? — Jonah Lehrer
    2. The Effect
    3. Possible Causes
    4. What Can We Do?

February 27

  1. Career Night: Options for your life with a degree

March 6

  1. Setting up a Lab and Becoming a Mentor — Stephanie Ceman

  2. Grant Proposals and Being a Reviewer — Gary Olsen
    Macrina Chapter 4
    1. Grant proposals
      • Writing research grants
        • Proposal development — idea, feasibility, benefit, approach
        • Proposal format
      • Submission — federal versus private grants
      • Scientific review (NIH)
    2. Peer review of manuscripts
    3. How ethical problems arise
      • Financial conflicts
      • Intellectual conflicts
      • Personal conflicts
      • Confidentiality

This page is maintained by Gary Olsen.
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Last modified January 20, 2014