Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Workshop on Academic Ethics

Rahul Siddharthan and Gautam Menon of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, along with N.S. Siddharthan of the Forum for Global Knowledge Sharing, are organizing a Workshop on Academic Ethics this July (specifically, 15-16 July 2011) in Chennai. I am grateful to be invited to give a talk. This is the first time I venture outside my technical discipline, so I'm a bit nervous ...

In his blog post announcing the workshop, Rahul says:

Anyone who would like to join in is welcome to write to us, at the address listed on that webpage. We would prefer advance notice, even from Chennai residents, for logistical reasons.

So, do please spread the word.

* * *

The Workshop has a pretty ambitious coverage. I especially liked this part:

Possible outcomes from the meeting:

  • A perspective on how these problems are viewed globally and what various national academies and scientific societies, including our own are doing to address these problems

  • Proposals for a syllabus (readings, material, discussion topics, case studies) for a module on "Scientific Ethics" to be introduced in the University syllabus as part of the "Methodology" exam. Indian Academies could collaborate on creating this material and liaise with UGC to ensure its implementation.

  • Formal mechanisms for examining ethics issues: What avenues exist currently? How does a university Vice-Chancellor deal with ethics issues? Is there a natural way in which such discussions might find their way to the Academies? Is there a need for a formal research ethics values watchdog, and should the academic community take initiative in forming [one]?

  • Legal aspects of action which can be taken in respect of scientific ethics complaints. What can institutions/universities do at all in terms of mechanisms to evaluate these complaints? If they are upheld, what mechanisms are there to discipline the persons involved?

  • General guidelines for maintenance of repositories, lab books, computer code etc. Are there typically institutional guidelines for these? Should the Academies discuss and propose such guidelines as a general rule?

  • ...