Summer 2004

SCIE 627
Scientific Integrity and Research Methods

Stickley,Sharon H.

06/28/2004 - 08/11/2004
Tuesday & Thursday 07:00 PM - 09:30 PM

Hall-Atwater 84

Through close reading and discussion of scientific case studies, students will learn to understand the design and implementation scientific experiments and to analyze the ethical implications of scientific research. Looking at cases such as biodefense research on anthrax or mad cow disease, or George Ricaute's controversial research on the neurological effects of the drug Ecstasy, we will explore these questions: who should be held responsible when data or the interpretation of that data are flawed? If the research is funded by the federal government, should the funding agency's staff have the right to regulate and oversee how the scientist designs and conducts research? If the researchers testing a new medical device are also major stockholders in the company owning the device's patent, should it matter who performed the tests as long as the results are verifiable and reproducible? To explore these questions, students will closely examine a selection of individual case studies for which the integrity of the research has come under question, focusing on their scientific contexts and goals, the (often sensationalized) representation of the misconduct in the public media, and the ethical issues in science research and in science writing.

Students will learn how to critically evaluate current topics of scientific misconduct and conflicts of interest. Questions that will be addressed are the following: What defines a scientist? What is the scientist's role in society, industry, academia, and government? What are the choices and pressures scientists face? What is "good" science? What constitutes misconduct (or "bad" science)? What responsibilities do scientists have toward students, colleagues, and the ideals within their fields of study?

Weekly readings will be assigned from several sources such as SCIENTIFIC INTEGTRITY: AN INTRODUTORY TEXT WITH CASES, 2nd edition, by Francis Macrina, and RESPOSIBLE CONDUCT OF RESEARCH by Adil Shamoo and David Resnik. Other pertinent articles will be assigned at the instructor's discretion.

Students will read, evaluate, and write weekly case studies and participate in class discussions. One group project will be assigned and presented orally to the class. This project will involve selecting a current or historical scientific case and thoroughly analyzing the history, science, and ethics of the conflict.

Although no rigorous background in a specific scientific discipline is necessary, students are expected to understand basic terminology and be able to read and disseminate science written for the general public.

Sharon Stickley (B.S. Monmouth College; Ph.D. Vanderbilt University) is visiting assistant professor of chemistry at Wesleyan University. Her research on tertiary polyfluorinated alcohols has been published in Tetrahedron Letters and presented at meetings of the American Chemical Society.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Shamoo & Resnik, RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT AND RESEARCH, 1st Edition(Oxford University Press), Paperback


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