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Ethical constraints Toby Walsh 4C, Cork, Ireland 4c.ucc.ie/~tw/ethics/

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Presentation on theme: "Ethical constraints Toby Walsh 4C, Cork, Ireland 4c.ucc.ie/~tw/ethics/"— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethical constraints Toby Walsh 4C, Cork, Ireland 4c.ucc.ie/~tw/ethics/

2 Outline Why bother with ethics? Ethics in the research cycle  Funding  Experiments  Publication When things go wrong  Whistle-blowing

3 Resources Web  4c.ucc.ie/~tw/ethics Journals  Science and Engineering Ethics www.opragen.co.uk/SEE Conferences  Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Oct 5 2002, Cambridge (MA) Courses  Check out your university  Ethics must be taught in all UK Masters by Research programs

4 Why me? I am not sure what qualifies me I have faced a number of ethical dilemmas  But then so will you I am neither angel nor hopefully great sinner

5 A Day @ The Artificial Ethics (AE) Lab Dr. MacIavelli arrives from Scotland to start a postdoc  Email arrives asking him to review a paper  Checks progress of his experiments  Goes for lunch with interview panel  Drafts new conference paper  Looks for a suitable conference to submit to  Clocks off early

6 Why bother? To protect and benefit  You  Science  Society

7 Why bother? To protect your own reputation  3 most important qualities of a scientist  Reputation, reputation, reputation A blackened reputation is rarely restored  Science is unforgiving

8 Why bother? Treat others like you would like to be treated  Get ahead by being the “nicest” person in your area! Science is very “social”  Networking at conferences  Job offers, PC membership, …

9 Why bother? To protect science’s reputation  Science is largely self- regulated  We therefore enjoy considerable freedoms  But this requires us to apply high ethical standards

10 Why bother? To protect society’s interests  Society invests in research despite many other pressing needs  Society delegates many ethical issues to scientists  In return, society expects scientists to act in society’s best interests

11 Ethics in the research cycle Funding Experiments  Data collection & presentation Publication  Authorship  Plagiarism  Citation  Reviewing

12 Ethics & funding Who do you take money off?  Military or arms industry?  Tobacco companies?  Nuclear power industry?  “Nasty” multi-nationals?  Microsoft? What do they require of you in return?

13 Ethics & experiments Human & animal experiments  Fortunately rare in CP  Many ethical safeguards in place  Your university will surely have an ethics committee to oversee such experiments Nonsense, as long as it is done ethically, animal testing in an invaluable scientific tool

14 Ethics & experiments Data collection & presentation  Fraud  Omission  Manipulation  Theft First three almost always discovered  Science requires results to be reproducible Panel is currently investigating possible fraud in claims by Hendrik Schon (Bell Labs) to have built an organic transistor

15 Ethics & publication Where many of us face most of our ethical dilemmas!  Not surprisingly, science is all about being the first to publish an idea Areas of concern  Authorship  Plagiarism  Citation  Reviewing

16 Ethics & authorship Who do you make co- author of your paper?  Colleague  Supervisor  Lab boss  Your friends They’ll do same in return!

17 Ethics & authorship There exist a number of guidelines for co- authorship  European Science Foundation “… In the case of joint authors, each should have made a significant contribution to the creative or analytical process and each has to accept shared responsibility for the content of the resulting article or book. The concept of honorary or “ghost” authorships is inconsistent with good scientific practice…”

18 Ethics & authorship Yes, but does this mean I put my PhD supervisor down as co-author or not? No hard and fast rules It is often (but not always) the case that:  At the start of your PhD, you do. Your supervisor asked the questions, pushed you in the right directions  At some point into your PhD/postdoc, you don’t. For some, this comes before the end of their PhD For others, this does not come till after their PhD work is in press in journals

19 Ethics & authorship How much does a colleague have to do to become a co-author? Again, no hard and fast rules My pragmatic advice  Err on the side of caution Nothing more sure to end the working relationship  Ask their opinion  In addition, ask for your name to be removed when appropriate

20 Ethics & authorship Some tests  Have they read the paper?  Do they understand the paper?  If you took sick in the middle of the seminar, could they finish it?

21 Ethics & authorship What order do you list authors? By “merit”  But this can be hard  And what about “equal” merit Alphabetically  Common in a number of areas

22 Ethics & authorship My recommendation:  Invent an ordering scheme and stick to it My scheme  Used to be, alphabetical  But recently [Colton, Bundy, Walsh 2000], …  Now it is, “you argue over where your names go, mine is in last place”  My name is always last so you can tell nothing about how little I did!

23 Plagiarism The presentation of someone else’s work as your own In exams, cheating In science, theft

24 Citation Failure to cite  In severe cases, plagiarism  In less severe cases, hinders careers  In least severe cases, hurts & offends Citation is so easy & painless to do 1. D. Johnson : 10473 2. J. Ullman: 10087 3. A. Gupta: 7696 4. R. Milner: 7276 5. M. Garey: 6044 6. R. Rivest: 6038 7. J. Dongarra: 6024 8. R. Tarjan: 5875 9. L. Lamport: 5777 10. J. Smith: 5314

25 Ethics & publication Your are responsible to protect your intellectual property  For your funding body  For your university/company  For your own profit Software patents are now possible  But will annoy your colleagues, …

26 Ethics & reviewing Blind reviewing  Allows for criticism without fear Double blind reviewing  “Safeguards” against bias Open reviewing  No one gets to hide!

27 Ethics & reviewing You have unpublished work on the same problem  You are obviously well qualified  As a courtesy, mention possible conflict to Editor/Program Chair You already reviewed and rejected paper  Look for changes  Were previous reasons fatal?  Do different standards apply to this conference/journal/… ?

28 Ethics & reviewing This journal submission already appeared at a conference  Conferences don’t usually count as archival  Does it extend previous appearance? An almost identical paper already appeared  Unless it was at a workshop, inform Editor/Chair  If it appeared with a different author, treat very seriously!

29 Ethics & reviewing You have worked with the author in the past  Recently decline due to conflict of interest  A long time ago if people knew both your identities, would they raise their eye-brows? You work in the same institution as the author  Almost always decline

30 Ethics & reviewing Papers are sent for review in strictest confidence  You cannot share them with colleagues  You cannot admit to knowing their contents  You cannot work on extending their results Science is a race to publish, all the credit goes to the first to publish

31 UK Nolan committee Standards for public officials (e.g. grant reviewers)  Selflessness Your decisions should be made solely in terms of public interest  Integrity You should avoid financial or other obligations that will conflict  Objectivity Your decisions should be entirely on merit  Accountability You can be asked to justify your decisions  Openness You should be as open as is possible, except where wider public intestest conflicts  Honesty  Leadership

32 Whistle blowing When things go wrong, what can you do? Stop & be very sure of your ground  People’s careers are in balance here Informally approach Editor/Chair  Phone is often better than email!

33 The perils of email What you wrote I have concerns about Walsh’s submission. It appears that it borrows techniques from my recent AAAI paper that I sent him last month. I am sure it was an oversight on his behalf not to reference me … How it was read There are serious problems with Walsh’s submission. It steals techniques from my recent AAAI paper. Walsh is obviously a thief as I sent him my AAAI paper last month …

34 Whistle blowing University level  Formal procedures, committees, … National level NSF Office of Inspector General NIH Office of Research Integrity (~10 proven cases/year) Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty Norwegian National Committee on Scientific Dishonesty German DFG Ombudsman (actually three people) …

35 Enough of me Let’s open this up! What ethical dilemmas have you faced? What situations concern you?

36 Outline Why bother with ethics? Ethics in the research cycle  Funding  Experiments  Publication When things go wrong  Whistle-blowing

37 Conclusions To misquote T.J. Watson  THINK ethically Science depends on good ethics  They are few black and white decisions  Most are shades of grey  Don’t be afraid to seek advice Supervisor Mentor …


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