responsible conduct of research (rcr)

Engineering/science research is expected to comply with professional, institutional, governmental, and societal standards. Occurrence of research misconduct, defined by the federal government as “fabrication,” “falsification,” and/or “plagiarism,” can produce results that can mislead experts and non-experts alike, with great cost to individuals within the engineering/scientific community and society at large.

This module explores not only fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism, but also a wider array of questionable research practices that can a) skew data and bias authoritative interpretations, b) generate erroneous understandings as well as misinformed decisions and behaviors, c) result in flawed public policy that is presented as science-based, and ultimately d) cause public harm. A central theme of this module is that existing mechanisms for self-correction in engineering/science are often weaker than assumed and frequently subverted by individual and institutional resistance to challenges against prevailing paradigms of thought and practice.

Key learning objectives of this module are to:

  • Become familiar with the history and prevalence of research ethics violations in engineering/science.
  • Be able to discuss the broad range of motives, aside from profit, that can lead to violations of research ethics in engineering/science.
  • Recognize the multiplicity and diversity of ramifications that can result from research ethics violations in engineering/science.
  • Describe weaknesses in existing safeguards for detecting and addressing violations of research ethics in engineering/science.
  • Gain appreciation for one’s own vulnerability to violating research ethics in engineering/science, as well as one’s responsibility for and agency in recognizing, exposing, and redressing irresponsible conduct in engineering/science research.

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