Ethics in the Lab

A Workshop for Junior Scientists on How to Address Moral Challenges of Their Work
  • If you would like to register on your own, please register via the KHYS open programme.
  • If you would like to register a larger group (e.g. graduate programme, research group, etc.), please contact the course leader directly.
Workshop Description

What is the relation between good and successful research, on the one hand, and ethical and responsible research, on the other hand? This workshop focuses on typical conflicts that particularly early career researchers may face in the context of a publish-or-perish culture: Is it okay for me to ignore and leave out statistical “outliers” when presenting my research data in case they impact the overall results more than I would like? Is such data “massaging” already scientific misconduct? How transparent must research practice be, when at the same time one has to succeed in the competitive world of scientific research? How to respond when you notice academic misconduct by a colleague? How should you handle problematic expectations of your supervisor?

In this workshop, however, we not only want to explain that these areas of conflict exist, but above all provide tools that can help you make your own decisions. We will do this by discussing realistic cases and using these cases to illustrate how easy it is to overlook important things and thus unintentionally overstep boundaries. In this way, participants can acquire the skills they need to recognise and avoid scientific misconduct. The workshop provides general skills and knowledge of research ethics needed for scientists to address the questions raised above. Participants attain the skills to rationally reflect on their role as a scientist from an ethical standpoint, including the specific expectations that role involves in a broader social context.

The workshop will show that successful research goes hand in hand with ethical and responsible research.

Learning Objectives:

The workshop is intended to support young scientists in better perceiving and analysing ethical conflicts in their research and developing their own attitude towards them.

  • Ethical problems are often not obvious. But in some cases, it can be harmful not to address them, for example if you are treated unfairly by a supervisor without realising it. Therefore, the basis for discussion in the course is historical and current cases.
  • Recognising an ethical problem as such does not mean that I can categorise it. Therefore, teaching basic theoretical knowledge of research ethics and comparing different cases plays a central role in the workshop in order to train analytical skills in dealing with such problems.
  • Through the joint discussion of the topics in the workshop and role-plays specially tailored to these topics, the adoption of a more reflective attitude to these topics is encouraged.

Here are two examples of the issues covered in the workshop.


The Milikan scandal: did the 1923 Nobel Price winner commit scientific misconduct?

Edward Jenner and the development of a vaccine against small pox: does the end justify all means?

Conception and Realization:

PD Dr. Alexander Bagattini (ITZ) & Prof. Dr. Dr. Rafaela Hillerbrand (ITAS)