SITE VISIT: Right, Wrong, and Shades of Gray

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Science  21 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5452, pp. 387
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5452.387b

Whose name goes where on a paper? What's it like to serve as an expert witness in a courtroom? Ethical issues such as these inevitably will rear up—and potentially bite you—during your career. If you're struggling with some ethical problem, big or small, or simply seeking resources on the topic, then pay a visit to The Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science.

Although much of the site focuses on engineers and corporate settings, basic scientists will find a large and growing stash of material on research ethics. A section called Moral Leaders profiles people like Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring galvanized concern over the effect of pollutants on wildlife; and Roger Boisjoly, the engineer who knew about Challenger's flawed O-rings and tried to stop its ill-fated launch. Offering practical advice are a guide to intellectual property for students and a glossary explaining terms such as “plagiarism” and “conflict of interest.” The many background documents range from a discussion of the proposed federal misconduct definition to a link to the Helsinki declaration protecting research subjects. Need more personal advice? Send an e-mail to the site's Help-Line.

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