Science, from Newton to Galileo to Darwin, has always courted controversy, challenging society to question our understanding of the world. Modern research is no different in its ability to challenge societal norms and public perceptions of what may or may not be acceptable scientific advances. Retention of organs and tissue without informed consent, stem cell research, genetically modified food, personal data storage, and nanotechnology “grey goo” are all recent examples of science moving from the centre pages to the front pages of the mainstream media; each provides a case study of how the practice of individual scientists or organisations can have significant impact on science more generally.
Ethics in research is not just confined to a few controversial areas of biomedical research, and it is the responsibility of all practising scientists to understand the ethical context and constraints of their work. Ethics also extends to areas such as conflicts of interest in research, understanding the contractual and legal frameworks under which research is conducted and the ways in which individuals should, or perhaps should not, choose to interact with their colleagues. Upholding recognised ethical principles requires an acceptance of and respect for the principles of integrity, honesty and openness and a commitment to intellectual honesty and personal responsibility. Prior to, during and following the completion of research activities, researchers are expected to consider the ethical implications of their research and its consequences for participants.
Through taught sessions, practical exercises, an assessed project and the opportunity to participate in the oversight of research ethics at the University, the module focuses on how to be consistent with current frameworks for the oversight and management of research ethics and good laboratory practice. It will also introduce you to the complexities of managing legal, moral, contractual and professional conduct issues in research.
Module Leader: Dr Peter Hedges
Dates 2013-14: 15-17 April 2014
Location: Senate House, University of Warwick