Fundamental Types of Research Dilemmas

Research presents a unique set of ethical challenges. Being aware of these challenges and being prepared to deal with them are vital to your success as a researcher. Do you think you are prepared? Can you can answer all of the following questions?

  • Who owns the laboratory notebook?
  • With whom can you discuss your research? What can you tell these individuals about your research?
  • Who owns the creative findings that will result from your work in the laboratory?
  • What is required for authorship in your laboratory? Will your name go on the by-line of any papers or presentations that result from your work?
  • What is required for inventorship in your laboratory? Will you be listed as an inventor or any new intellectual property that results from your work this summer?
  • Is it ever “OK” to copy something you read in print? What information should you cite (credit) when you write up your work? Do you know how to properly cite the work of others in any presentations and/or publications you will create?
  • Is it ever “OK” to “modify” data, omit data, or make up data?
  • What relationships if any do you have that might bias you or appear to bias you in the conduct or reporting of your research?
  • What, if any, are the hazards that are presented by your research project (reagents, products) to you, your colleagues, your institution, and the world? How will you minimize these dangers to yourself and others?