Responsible and Ethical Research (16:486:501)

The School of Graduate Studies announces the availability of:

Responsible and Ethical Research (16:486:501).

Friday February 9 through Friday March 9.

2:30 to 4:30 PM.  Room 107 ARC building, Busch campus (right at the bus stop: bus A, H, B or REXB).


TWO options to attend:

OPTION 1:  REGISTER through the course scheduling system.  The course will appear on the transcript provided you attend and participate, earning zero-credits.  Zero credits means no tuition and grade of S. 

OPTION 2: Attend any sessions you choose and participate fully.  The attendance and course will not appear on the transcript.

Preference for seats given to registrants.

Contact Eileen Kowler to inquire about attending indicidual sessions.


Responsible and Ethical Research is a series of  discussion-based workshops that are intended to sharpen and develop the decision-making and communication skills of graduate students to make all better able to handle various sorts of dilemmas and difficult situations.  The course is relevant to students of any discipline.

Discussion will focus on how to communicate with advisors, mentors and collaborators; and what to do if you find yourself in an ethical dilemma.

The only requirement is to attend and participate in the discussions.  The course may appear on the transcript with a grade of S for anyone who attends.

The content is designed so as to be consistent with the requirements of the National Science Foundation for graduate students who are supported on NSF grants or fellowships.  However, students who are not supported by NSF are welcome and encouraged to attend.


2018 Topics and dates:

February 9: Avoiding research misconduct.  Misconduct (defined by the US Office of Research Integrity as “falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism”) occurs more frequently than you might think, often because individuals do not even realize that what they are doing is out of bounds of accepted practices.  (For example, what are the accepted policies in citing and quoting the work of others?) Discussion will focus on how to communicate about these issues with advisors, mentors and collaborators; and what to do if you find yourself in an ethical dilemma.

February 16: Managing dilemmas in research.  Each field tries to develop standards and conventions that define responsible research practices and act to guide researchers’ decisions.  Yet questions continually arise, particularly in emerging and cutting edge topics.  Often questions concern very basic concerns:  How much data do I need to gather to provide a fair test of the hypotheses and submit my work for publication?  What do I do to avoid error and mistakes?  What sorts of mathematical or statistical analyses are appropriate to avoid misleading conclusions?   How do I work out fair arrangements with collaborators?

February 23: Managing relationships with mentors.  We identify and discussing the rights and responsibilities of mentors and mentees.   This includes recognizing potential areas of disagreement and potential conflicts of interest.  The focus is on developing the skills to speak up and discuss your roles and progress with your mentor/advisor in an effective way.

March 2: Ethics of publishing: authorship and peer review.  What are the responsibilities of an author?  Who gets to be an author and who decides?  What happens to submissions when they fall into the hands of reviewers and editors? What are the ethical obligations of reviewers and editors?  How do we determine the existence of conflicts of interest?  

March 9: Conflict and collaboration:  Recognizing and addressing conflicts of interest, including those that concern collaborations within large groups and collaborations with industry.  



1.  What’s the intended audience for this course?

  Any graduate student enrolled in a doctoral programs.  This course has been taken by students in all fields and disciplines. Note: Those who need training in research ethics to satisfy requirements of an NIH grant should take 16:115:556. 

2.  What is the format?

   Active group discussion organized around selected case studies.

3. What topics will be covered?

   See list above.  The selection of topics is following the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences in their short book “On Being a Scientist” but may go beyond this to include topics of current interest to the group.

4.  Can anyone attend or is attendance limited to those who registered?

   Attendance is open.  Registration is encouraged for those planning to attend all meetings.

5.  Will the course appear on the transcript?

   Yes, for those who register and attend.  As a zero-credit course there is no tuition cost and no formal grade

6.  Does this course fulfill requirements for ethics training for students supported by NSF?

   We believe so but we are not involved with monitoring compliance.  Check with the Office of Research and Economic Development for questions about compliance.

7.  Are you covering Human Subjects or Animal Welfare issues?

   No.  Those who need training in Human subject or animal welfare should check the web site of the Rutgers Office of Research and Economic Development.

Have questions? Contact Eileen Kowler.