"Ethics in Science"
Report Guidelines and Topics
Over the course of the term, you
will locate two articles on a topic relevant to the class and report to the
class on each of these articles. One article must be from the popular
press and the other must be from the scholarly scientific press. Your
research report should highlight the assumptions the article makes about science
and the norms these assumptions reflect. The two research reports will
count for 15% of your course grade.
- You need to find one suitable
article in the popular press and one suitable article in the scholarly scientific
press. While your popular article and your scholarly scientific article
can be on the same topic, they don't need to be.
- Once you've found an article
you'll report on, provide me with a hard copy (or an electronic copy, or
a link to the article) and I will make the article available to the class.
- Your report on the article should
- A brief synopsis of the article
(i.e., what it's about);
- An identification of the ethical
question it raises;
- The assumptions the article
makes about science; and
- The norms these assumptions
reflect, whether from within the tribe of science or from the larger community
in which the scientific community is embedded.
- You will post your report in
the class Canvas discussion area.
PLEASE USE THE SAMPLE
RESEARCH REPORT I HAVE POSTED IN THE CANVAS DISCUSSION AREA AS A MODEL FOR FORMAT,
APPROXIMATE LENGTH, AND THE LEVEL OF DETAIL AND ENGAGEMENT IN YOUR REPORT.
You need to post your first research
report by Friday, April 6. Your second research report is due by Friday,
There are a number of useful databases
available through the King Library with which you can locate both popular
and scholarly scientific sources. Among these, Science Direct, Sci Finder
Scholar, and Web of Science will be most helpful for locating the scholarly
scientific sources. Another useful database here will be PubMed.
Google Scholar can also be a useful
search engine (although at least some of the results it returns may be sources
behind a paywall). A good entry point to current scholarly scientific reports
is EurekAlert, whose brief news items
often include links to the scientific papers behind them. (However,
note that what you're finding directly through EurekAlert are press releases,
not scholarly scientific sources!) For the popular sources,
you might also use Lexis/Nexis and Google to find what you're looking for.
The "Research Links"
page on the course website has links to these databases.
- Are scientists (e.g., on government
panels on cloning, stem cell research, global warming, etc.) impartial?
- Are some research topics too
dangerous to pursue?
- Are scientific reports credible?
(Is scientific fraud prevalent?)
- Are collaborations between scientists
at universities and in the private sector a good thing or a bad thing?
- How important is knowledge without
clear practical application (i.e., basic research)?
- Who should fund "luxury"
science (superconducting supercolliders, missions to Mars, etc.)?
- A particular case of scientific
fraud or misconduct, and what to make of it.
- A particular case of conflict
of interest in scientific or medical research.
- Patient access to experimental
- Informed consent and the "therapeutic
- Drug testing in the developing
world or in vulnerable populations.
- Use of animals in scientific
- Pseudo-science masquerading
as real science.
- Can a natural product be intellectual
- Patenting AIDS drugs.
- Should science be self-regulated
or regulated from outside (e.g., by government agencies)?
- Is it ethical for Facebook,
Twitter, Google, or similar companies to conduct behavioral studies on people
using their services?
- "Overtesting" of patients
in emergency rooms.
- Do non-scientists know enough
about the relevant science to make good decisions at the ballot box about
controversial questions (e.g., GMO labeling, medical marijuana, etc.)?
You are encouraged to consider
other topics as well, but if you are in doubt you should run them by me first
to make sure they are suitable for the assignment.