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Title: Ethics

Ethics Scientific ResearchOctober 2014
Clark Wolf Iowa State University jwcwolf_at_iastate.e
Ethics in Science?
  • Macro-Ethics Social/Ethical issues in research
    and the development of new technologies

Ethics in Science?
  • Ethical issues in the uses of new technologies

Ethics in Science?
  • Ethical issues involved in the policies that
    regulate the uses of new technology

  • Many moral objections to science and technology
    are silly.
  • Does this mean that its silly to consider
    ethical issues in science and technology?

Ethics in Science?
  • Ethical issues in the practice of scientific
    research (RCR)

I. Ethics in Life Science Research
  • 1) Why should you Care?
  • 2) Standards for Scientific Research
  • 3) Ethics, Values, and Choices
  • 4) Controversial Case Arsenate Bacteria
  • 5) Risk Factors for Research Misconduct?
  • 6) Case Studies and Questions

Why should you be interested?
  • Good science requires ethically responsible
    research practice.
  • There are good reasons behind the rules governing
    the responsible conduct of research.
  • Within the scientific community, ethical
    misconduct is taken very seriously. Misconduct
    can be a career-ending disaster.

MRS Bulletin, Feb 2002
From Comstock ppt What is Ethics?
From Comstock ppt What is Ethics?
Goodwin Case
(No Transcript)
  • Why would a smart person do something so stupid?

What is Responsible Research? What are the
Standards of Research Ethics, Where do they Come
From, and Why Should Anyone Comply with them?
The standards of research ethics are rules and
principles of conduct that apply to scientists
engaged in the practice of research. They
include conventional standards, professional
codes, legal rules, and requirements of
Standards of Scientific Misconduct
  • Charles Babbage, 1830 Reflections on the
    Decline of Science in England
  • Trimming Removing data that fails to conform to
    one's hypothesis.
  • Cooking Making many measurements and only
    reporting those deemed satisfactory.
  • Forging Recording fictitious results.

Standards of Scientific Misconduct
  • "FFP" Standard "Scientific misconduct means
    fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or
    other practices that seriously deviate from those
    that are commonly accepted within the scientific
    community for proposing, conducting, or
    reporting research. It does not include honest
    error or honest differences in interpretation or
    judgments of data."

Standards of Scientific Misconduct MIM
Misappropriation, Interference, and
  • "Research misconduct means significant
    misbehavior that improperly appropriates the
    intellectual property or contributions of others,
    that intentionally impedes the progress of
    research, or that risks corrupting the
    scientific record or compromising the integrity
    of scientific practices. Such behaviors are
    unethical and unacceptable in proposing,
    conducting, or reporting research, or in
    reviewing proposals or research reports of
  • Ryan Report, 1995

Whats Missing?
  • FFP and MIM each capture some important
    categories of scientific misconduct. But they
    are inappropriately focused only on issues of
    intellectual property and the protection of the
    integrity of research itself.
  • There are other aspects of scientific practice
    that should be subject to standards of proper

Categories of Scientific Misconduct
  • 1.0 Truth Telling
  • 1.1 In research (Ex Accurate reporting of
    research results)
  • 1.2 In self-representation (Ex Resumes and
  • 2.0 Prohibition on Intellectual Theft
  • 2.1 Plagiarism
  • 2.2 Citation Ethics
  • 2.3 Authorship Credit
  • 3.0 Conflicts of Interest Funding Sources, bias
  • 3.1Concealment of Relevant Data
  • 3.2 Requests for Misrepresentation
  • 3.3 Funding-Source Interests Entering the
    Research Process
  • 4.0 Treatment of Research Subjects
  • 4.1 Informed Consent and Human Subjects
  • 4.2 Humane and Appropriate Treatment of Animal
  • 5.0 Conflicts between scientific aims and other
    ethically relevant aims.
  • 5.1 Imposition of social or environmental
  • 5.2 Sexism or Racism in the sciences
  • 5.2 Student/Mentor relations
  • 6.0 ???

  • In the context of scientific research, it is
    important to understand the principles that
    govern the proper conduct of research.
  • You should critically and reflectively consider
    the basis for these principles, and the reasons
    behind them.
  • When people fail to abide by them, the
    consequences are drastic and often

How could Smart People do something so Stupid?
  • Ethical choices often arise in the process of
    scientific research.
  • When people are not ready, if these issues catch
    them by surprise, they sometimes make terrible
    mistakes. (Even intelligent and well-meaning

Ethics and the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • One aim of this session is to prepare you for
    choices that you will surely face in the course
    of your career as a student, researcher,
    scientist, or engineer.

Ethics and the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Example Plagiarism and Authorship.
  • When, and in what form, is it permissible to use
    the work of others in ones own research?
  • Plagiarism Hand-Out
  • Bloggs Hand-Out

Bloggs Case 1
Bloggs Case 1
  • Utilitarianism The ethical thing to do is
    whatever will maximize aggregate benefit for
  • The Greatest Good for the
  • Greatest Number (GHGN)

Bloggs Case 2
  • Would slicing and dicing Bloggs violate his
    rights? (What are rights?)

  • Response Slicing and dicing Bloggs would violate
    his rights.
  • A moral right is a justified claim that an
    individual (or group) may make to certain objects
    or certain treatment by others.
  • Bloggss right to X may take the form of
  • A claim that Bloggs may make to a particular
    object (e.g., his kidneys)
  • A constraint on how Bloggs should be treated
    (e.g., he shouldnt be killed for his organs)
  • An obligation on others not to interfere with
    Bloggss doing X (e.g., his continuing to live)

Ethical Theory
  • Immanuel Kant Categorical Imperative
  • Act only such that you could will the maxim on
    which you act as a universal law.
  • Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your
    own person or that of another, always as an end
    in itself, and never as a means only.
  • Would slicing and dicing Bloggs for his organs
    involve treating him as a mere means?

Ethical Theory
  • Killing v. Letting Die It has sometimes been
    argued that we have a moral duty not to kill, but
    no moral duty (or a lighter moral duty) not to
    let people die.
  • Does this distinction explain why we shouldnt
    kill Bloggs for his organs?

Bloggs Case 3
Bloggs Case 3
  • The ethics of acts vs. omissions
  • The greater good vs. clean hands

Ethical Theory
  • We reveal our ethical views when we explain or
    justify our choices and behavior to others.
  • Ethical views can be thoughtless and
    unreflective, or thoughtful and reflective. To
    the extent that were thoughtless and
    unreflective, our value system will lack
    integrity and depth.
  • If our values are shallow and incoherent, we will
    make bad decisions, and we will be shallow and
    incoherent. (?)

Ethics in Science
  • No one (?) pursues a career in science planning
    or expecting to perpetrate scientific misconduct.
  • By considering the motives and pressures that
    lead people to perpetrate misconduct, we can
    prepare ourselves in advance to make good

Hard Cases
  • Fraud and misconduct are in one sense easy cases
    people know theyre doing the wrong thing when
    they fake the data.
  • Are there ethically problematic cases at the
    margin where people can fall into misconduct
    without realizing that this is what theyve done?

A Story The Baltimore Case
  • April 1986 Publication by David Baltimore,
    Thereza Imanishi-Kari, et al. of a paper titled
  • "Altered Repertoire of Endogenous
    Immunoglobulin Gene Expression in Transgenic Mice
    Containing a Rearranged Mu Heavy Chain Gene"
  • The article appeared in the journal Cell.

The Baltimore Case
  • May 1986 Margot O'Toole, Imanishi-Kari's
    postdoctoral assistant at MIT, found that she
    could not duplicate Imanishi-Kari's data.
  • OToole wasted(?) a year demonstrating that
    important experiments in the paper were wrong.

The Baltimore Case
  • Frustrated, in May 1986 OToole decided to blow
    the whistle. She took the facts to her thesis
    adviser. She also contacted two scientists at
    Tufts University, which was about to hire
  • COMMENT What should you do if you suspect
    misconduct on the part of someone in your lab?
    It is important to insure that the rights of
    those you suspect are protected, even if you
    know them to be guilty of misconduct.
  • Due Process rights.

The Baltimore Case
  • The hiring committee at Tufts was concerned
    enough to ask Imanishi-Kari for proof of the work
    she'd done.
  • On perusal of her notes they did not decide to
    act on O'Toole's concerns. Tufts hired
  • (US Secret Service later said that these notes
    were fabricated just before the meeting.)

The Baltimore Case
  • June 1986 O'Toole confronted Imanishi-Kari.
  • According to O'Toole, Imanishi-Kari admitted
    that some of the work cited in the paper was not
    done, and other work got different results than
    what was reported.

The Baltimore Case
  • O'Toole asked that the paper be withdrawn.
  • David Baltimore replied that such problems with
    accuracy are not unusual and need not be
  • A startling new standard for scientific
    inquiry? --Elliot Stern, p. 46.

The Baltimore Case
  • September 1986 Dean at MIT assigned Herman
    Eisen to look at the case. Eisen noted that there
    were errors in the Cell paper but that this was
    "the stuff of science" and not misconduct.
  • (ES p. 46)

The Baltimore Case
  • Eisen received a letter from David Baltimore
  • "The evidence that the Bet-1 antibody doesn't
    do as described in the paper is clear. Thereza
    Imanishi-Kari's statement to you that she knew
    it all the time is a remarkable admission of
    guilt... Why Thereza chose to use this data and
    to mislead both of us and those who read the
    paper is beyond me.

The Baltimore Case
  • All authors do have to take responsibility
    for a manuscript, so all of us are in some sense
    culpable, but I would hate to see David
    Weaver's integrity questioned for something he
    accepted in good faith... The literature is full
    of bits and pieces now known to be wrong, but it
    is not the tradition to point each one out
  • He went on to say that no correction should be
    published but that he would privately let others
    know that Imanishi-Kari's data "are not reliable,
    and I for one, will be skeptical of Thereza's
    work in the future. (ES p. 47.)

The Baltimore Case
  • Questionable standards represented in
    Baltimores letter to Eisen?
  • (Attitudes concerning misconduct were different
    at the time when Baltimore wrote this letter.
    Does this mitigate the fault he might incur from
    involvement in a cover-up?)

The Baltimore Case
  • July 1986 Walter Stewart and Ned Feder at NIH
    started examining the case, and spoke to John
    Dingle, Chair of the House Subcommittee on
    Oversight and Investigations. There is no one
    whose job it is to investigate possible cases of
    scientific fraud.
  • NIH appointed a special committee to investigate
    the matter.

The Baltimore Case
  • Summer 1986 Baltimore took steps to mobilize
    the scientific community to defend Imanishi-Kari
    against the NIH investigation. He mobilized
    colleagues to write op-ed pieces and to join the
    fray. A large group of distinguished scientists
    went to Washington on his behalf.
  • Baltimore "cast the conflict as one of outsiders
    invading the sanctuary of science.
  • --ES, p. 48

The Baltimore Case
  • October 1994 NIH Office of Research Integrity
    (ORI) ruled that Imanishi-Kari falsified data and
    should be barred from receiving NIH grants or
    contracts for a 10 year period.
  • Secret Service experts provide evidence that
    notebooks provided by Imanishi-Kari's as evidence
    of her innocence were, some of them, prepared
    shortly before being given to the ORI.

The Baltimore Case
  • There is evidence that
  • Imanishi-Kari threw out data that did not conform
    to her hypothesis
  • that the dates on the lab notebooks were wrong
    they have Imanishi-Kari using equipment that was
    not yet in the lab, and have dates that do not
    conform to the radiation counter tapes fixed to
    her lab books.
  • Secret Service found that 20 percent of
    Imanishi-Kari's material showed evidence of being

The Baltimore Case
  • 1994-1996 Imanishi-Kari pursued the appeals
    process, continuing to argue that she was sloppy
    and wrong, not dishonest and deliberately

The Baltimore Case
  • June 1996 Department of Health and Human
    Services review panel ruled that Imanishi-Kari is
    not guilty of the misconduct allegations.

The Baltimore Case
  • Where are they now?
  • Imanishi Kari Still at Tufts.
  • OToole Science writer
  • Baltimore President of Cal Tech

Another Recent Case
  • Whang Woo-Suk
  • South Korean scientist who quickly became very
    famous for brilliant work on stem cell and
    cloning research.
  • First cloned dog Snuppy.

Another Recent Case
  • Whang Woo-Suk
  • First questions were raised about the origin of
    research materials, which were found to have been
    donated by people within Whangs lab. This
    violated international regulatory guidelines for
    such research.

Another Recent Case
  • Whang Woo-Suk
  • Then questions arose about the research itself.
  • Under pressure, Whang admitted that substantial
    portions of his most celebrated research were

Why would Anyone Commit Scientific Fraud?
  • Reputation?
  • Publication and promotion?
  • To Get a Job or a Grant?

(No Transcript)
  • "There are undoubtedly many reasons why people
    choose to become scientists. Simple greed,
    however, is not high on the list."
  • -David Goodstein, "Inside Science,"
  • American Scholar, Autumn 1999.

Risk Factors for Misconduct David Goodstein
  • 1. Ambition and career pressure.
  • 2. Researchers know, or think that they know
    what the answer would turn out to be if they went
    to all the trouble of doing the work properly.
  • 3. Work is being done in a field where individual
    experiments are not expected to be precisely
  • SOURCE David Goodstein, Scientific
    Misconduct ACADEME 2002.

Career Pressure
  • Career Pressure does not uniquely identify a
    group as more prone to misconduct All
    scientists are under career pressure.

Knowing the Answer (Or thinking you do)
  • Knowing the Answer Those who commit
    scientific fraud are rarely people who
    self-consciously intend to falsify the scientific

Reproducibility of Experiments
  • Experiments are seldom repeated by others.
    When a wrong result is found out, it is almost
    always because new work based on the wrong result
    doesn't proceed as expected. The belief that
    someone may repeat one's experiments is a strong
    disincentive for fraud, but this disincentive
    seems to be less effective in the biosciences
    where different research results may often be
    explained by differences in experimental
    circumstances, and especially where live
    organisms are used as research subjects.
    Variability among individual organisms might
    provide some apparent cover for a biologist
    tempted to cheat.
  • -Goodstein, Scientific Misconduct.

  • Clark Wolf
  • Director of Bioethics
  • Iowa State University

Science, Ethics, and Graduate Study
  • Common Issues and Concerns for Graduate Students
  • Mentor/Student interaction
  • Credit where credit is due
  • Ownership of data
  • Plagiarism and Responsibility

Case 1 Data from a Graduate CourseSocial Science
  • You are a graduate student taking a course with
    Professor Teacher. In this course, Prof. Teacher
    gives the class some data from his/her ongoing
    research as illustrations. You are told to use
    some of this data in your course assignments. In
    doing so, you notice that the trends in this data
    have some interesting implications for other
    research you did with Professor Study and are now
    writing up. You want to use some of Prof.
    Teachers data in your article to draw out these
    new implications.
  • Whom, if anyone, do you approach about this, how
    do you approach him or her, and what do you say?
  • Case Data from a Graduate CourseSocial Science
  • Source http//
  • Based on an idea by Gary Deimling.

Case 2 Changing the Procedure
  • by Caroline Whitbeck, Ph.D.
  • based on an idea of Arun Patel Ravi Patil, MIT
  • You area member of a group of graduate students
    working on a large project. The results from your
    group's experiment are used for other experiment
    in the project. Your faculty supervisor, the
    principal investigator (PI) for the project,
    wants you to use a new procedure for your
    experimental work. The PI expects that the new
    procedure will yield results that are better
    suited to the experimental conditions of the
    other experimental work. The other students in
    your group do not wish to change the procedure.
    It will require more work and they think both
    that the PI will be impatient with the resulting
    delay, and that she will not notice if the old
    procedure is used.
  • You rely on the group for assistance for your
    own thesis work, so you want to deal tactfully
    with them, but you believe that if you use the
    old procedure, the quality of the data will
    suffer and you will mislead the PI and perhaps
    the entire scientific community.
  • You argue for using the new procedure and
    explaining to the PI that it will just take
    longer, but the rest of the group is not
  • What do you do and how do you go about it?

Case 3 Whose Data Is It?
  • Maie ElKassaby was a PhD student in the lab of
    Dr. Jeffrey Williams, a microbiologist at
    Michigan State University. ElKassaby was working
    on a project supported by Williams NIH grant, in
    collaboration with scientists at UpJohn Co. and
    physicians in the Sudan. Following a series of
    disagreements, Williams withdrew his support as
    ElKassaby's PhD advisor. ElKassaby filed a
    grievance against Williams and removed the tissue
    samples and data she had accumulated on the
  • Although an inquiry found the grievance against
    Williams to be groundless, ElKassaby continued
    to refuse to return the lab data to Williams.
    Associate dean Justin McCormick pointed out that
    the university has an obligation to protect
    student interests as well as faculty
    prerogatives. He described the situation as a
    divorce in which the parties are seeking fair
    distribution of joint property. Under the
    guidance of MSU officials, ElKassaby was
    provided with three faculty advisors who helped
    her write up her sequestered data for
    publication, in spite of protests from Williams
    and the UpJohn collaborators.
  • Jeffrey Williams, Sr professor of Microbiology
    v. Maie ElKassaby, Michigan State U. 1989.

Case 3 Whose Data Is It?
  • Williams was (wrongly) advised by Alan Price
    that "sequestering data is not misconduct," it's
    an internal affair, "but if the data are
    published, that is plagiarism." Looking at
    standard definitions of "scientific misconduct,"
    Price may have been correct. (This in itself
    provides good reason for revisions like those
    adopted by the Ryan Comission!) The paper was
    eventually published with ElKassaby as sole
    author, at which point Williams filed charges of
    scientific misconduct against ElKassaby and the
    MSU administrator and faculty involved in the
    preparation of the article.
  • Both MSU and NIH began independent
    investigations of Williams' allegations. The NIH
    panel in the end censored ElKassaby for her
    refusal to "permit access by collaborators and
    the PI to primary research materials and data,"
    citing the refusal as a "breach of accepted
    scientific practice" and "therefore an act of
    scientific misconduct."
  • (from Elliot, Deni, and Sterns, Judy E. 1997.
    Research Ethics A Reader, Institute for Applied
    and Professional Ethics, Pub. p. 211)

Case 3 Whose Data Is It?
  • Both MSU and NIH began independent investigations
    of Williams' allegations. The NIH panel in the
    end censored ElKassaby for her refusal to "permit
    access by collaborators and the PI to primary
    research materials and data," citing the refusal
    as a "breach of accepted scientific practice" and
    "therefore an act of scientific misconduct."
  • (Elliot Deni, and Sterns, Judy E. 1997. Research
    Ethics A Reader, Institute for Applied and
    Professional Ethics, Pub. p. 211)