Ethics Discussion

Last Wednesday was the second of a two part series of a discussion on the ethics in science.  Everyone in the biology department was invited to the seminars, which were led by Professor Heideman.  Before the discussion, everyone read On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research from the National Academies of Sciences Press.  The reading discussed different facets of the ethics involved in science from the perspective of a scientist responsibility to the public.  The essay argues that society and the public trust to attempt to make discoveries about the world that are both unbiased and accurate.  Breaking this trust is not only dishonest, but also could potentially have a negative effect on the relationship between society and science as a whole.  During the discussions, we discussed various scenarios that we, as undergraduates involved in research, might encounter at any point in our careers.

I found the whole experience to be extremely interesting.  The readings showed me a new way to approach thinking about the ethics of science.  During the discussion I enjoyed hearing the opinions my peers had on the various scenarios. There were usually several different opinions on how a given scenario would best be resolved.  I learned that the definition of “scientific misconduct” isn’t necessarily as cut-and-dry as I had originally thought.  My favorite part about the whole discussion was hearing the stories Dr. Heideman shared with us of incidents he has seen or heard about over his career.  Hearing these real-life stories made the discussion so much more valuable, in my opinion.

Discussions like this are part of what this summer is all about, in my opinion.  It is awesome to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with my peers in a casual atmosphere, and something that I probably wouldn’t have the chance to do during the school year.


  1. jewoods says:

    Can you share some of the incidents that Professor Heideman talked about during the discussion?