Lectures / Schedule

Fall 2016 or Spring 2017, Time / Day TBD

Room TBD


01 - January 20: Introduction: Why is ethics important for science? - pdf

Is ethics relevant for scientists?

  1. Reading "The Belmont Report" (pdf)
  2. Reading "Scientific Misconduct" (pdf)
  3. Reading "Study highlights ethical ambiguity in physics" (pdf)
  4. Optional: Lon Fuller's "The case of the speluncean explorers" (pdf)

02 - January 27: Professional Codes -

What are the existing ethical codes that astronomers may refer to?

  1. Homework:
    • Read NAS "On being a scientist" (pg. 3-26 in the pdf) and "Ethics & Values" from the American Physical Society.
    • Make sure to read the case studies in "On being a scientist". Which ones can be converted into an astronomy case study?
    • Are these documents useful? If you had to improve on these documents, what would you do? Be prepared to discuss your perspective in class.
  2. Reading: The National Academies "On Being a Scientist (pdf, link)
  3. Reading: The American Physical Society guidelines (pdf, link).

03 - February 3: Research Misconduct -

  1. Homework:
    • Study the bubble fusion example and be prepared to discuss the following in class: How many violations of APS guidelines can you identify? Compare issues and events to the document "US Federal Policies on Research Misconduct".
    • Writing Assignment: Comment on RM=PF^2 in a concise 0.5-2.0 pgs "Letter to Editor" style. For example, imagine that you read in a newspaper RM=PF^2, how would you respond to it in a letter to the editor? Should RM specify other undesirable behaviour? Why or why not? (Hint: Consider Ch. 1 of the Sigma Xi article).
    • As always, bring a current science ethics news item (if you find one) for class discussion.
  2. The Bubble Fusion Scandal.
    • Early Doubts (pdf1, pdf2, pdf3).
    • Report in Science (pdf).
    • Timeline (pdf).
    • Punishment (pdf).
    • Original Research Manuscripts (pdf1, pdf2, pdf3).
    • Additional info available by searching the web (Science, Nature, New York Times, etc.)
  3. "U.S. Federal Policy on Research Misconduct" (pdf, link)
  4. Read: Science Fraud (pdf).
  5. Read: Punishments fit the Crime? (pdf).
  6. Read: Chapter 1, Sigma Xi document (pdf).
  7. Scan: "A fraud that shook the world of science (pdf).
  8. Scan: The Hendrik Schoen misconduct report (pdf).
  9. Compare & Contrast against the NFL code of conduct (pdf, link).
  10. Scan: Loui "Seven ways to plagiarize" (pdf).
  11. Scan: Rhoads "Responsible Conduct of Research" (pdf)

04 - February 10: Class Presentations

  1. Present your opinion letter on the definition of research misconduct
  2. Present your case studies.
    • Create an astronomy data case study to illustrate fabrication and/or falsification of research results (base it on astronomical data or theory), or plagiarism.
    • If you wish, the project may be disemminated on the course web site. Use your imagination or consider real-life events.

05 - February 17: Conflicts of Interest -

  1. We will finish Class Presentations
  2. Read Conflict of Interest material.
  3. Reading: NASA Peer Review COI Agreement (pdf)
  4. University of California (point #6) (pdf)
  5. Hasselmo "Individual & Institutional Conflict of Interest" (pdf)
  6. COI when professional and personal beliefs intersect: The Gaskell Case (NYT Article, Elitzur Deposition, Gaskell Writing)

06 - February 24: Authorship -

  1. Homework: What is an author? What are the criteria for first authorship and coauthorship in astronomy? Who decides?
  2. Reading: ApJ Policy (pdf)
  3. Scan: Coauthorship in Physics (pdf)
  4. Scan: Comparison of Disciplines (pdf)
  5. Scan: Council of Science Editors White paper (pdf, link)
  6. Scan: CSE Opinions (pdf, link)

07 cont'd - March 3: Authorship - Continued

  1. Class Assignment: Devise a set of questions and authorship scoring system, to be used to interview a postdoc on their author list on a paper they have prepared.
  2. Compare the author list created from the interview to the author list originally given by the lead author. Where are there differences and why did they occur?
  3. Reading: Quantifying co-author contributions (Hunt 1991)

08 - March 10: Data Management -

  1. Homework: Define research data and ownership. Do astronomical data have characteristics that make them susceptible to ethical dilemmas that are different or more numerous compared to other disciplines?
  2. Reading: OMB Definition (link, search for "research data")
  3. Reading: PHS definition of the research record (link)
  4. Reading: Explore the different possibilities here (pdf)
  5. Reading: Astronomy examples (FERMI, CoRoT, Phil Plait essay, Steve Beckwith essay)

09 - March 17: Intellectual Property - pdf

  1. Reading: Galileo (pdf)
  2. Reading: Ledford article on collaborations (pdf)
  3. Reading: Kennedy on Bayh-Doyle (pdf)
  4. Reading: Thursby squared on Bayh-Doyle (pdf)
  5. Reading: How many patents are managed by UC? (pdf)
  6. Reading: AAAS Report Sections 1 (pg. 11), 1.3, 1.3.1 (pgs. 14-15) (pdf)
  7. Homework Due: Present the pros and cons of various possible software licenses. In your view, what would be an ideal combination of terms for the original software that you write during the course of your scientific research?

10 - March 31: Mentoring and Whistleblowing -

  1. Reading: Nature's Guide for Mentors (pdf1, pdf2)
  2. Reading: Gonzalez et al. on mentoring (pdf)
  3. Reading: Postdocs (pdf)
  4. Reading: Mentoring graduate students (pdf)
  5. Reading: "Truth and Consequences" (pdf1, pdf2)
  6. Resources: UC Policies on Whistleblowing (pdf1, link)
  7. Resources: ORI on Whistleblowing (link)

11 - April 7: Environmental Ethics - pdf

  1. Homework: What ethical principles guide the Outer Space Treaty (link)?
  2. Look through: Planetary Protection (link), Mars contamination, (pdf, search for term "ethical")
  3. Homework: Should the RMO have been removed? (AAS email, Hanford link, search for the term "observatory" in the following pdf1, pdf2)
  4. Reading: John Lacy on the environmental impact of SOFIA (ppt, pdf)
  5. Read: The Wekiu Bug: List a number of ways that an observatory impacts the environment (pdf)
  6. Expert Material: Philosopher Andrew Light reading (pdf) ,and "The dignity of living beings with regard to plants" (pdf)

12 - April 14: Guest Lecture -

13 - April 21: Dual Use Technologies -

  1. Homework: Think about your answer to the following - "Weapons and intelligence gathering are essential for safeguarding the citizens of a country against attacks. Under what circumstances might you work for the government or industry where your role includes developing weapons or other types of support for national defense?
  2. Scan: Office of Naval Research Education Opportunities (link), UC e-mail (txt)
  3. Writer Michael Atiyah states that scientists such as Edward Teller encourage the arms race by "constantly developing more advanced technology". Who is Edward Teller? What impact did he have on the scientific research at the University of California? As you read about him, think about the types of ethical dilemmas he may have thought about and the ways in which he acted. Do you agree with the Atiyah statement?

14 - April 28: Guest Lecture -


Intelligent Design - Guest Lecture: Glenn Branch (Deputy Director, National Center for Science Education). (lecture slides pdf)

  1. Reading: Glenn Branch, "Creationism, intelligent design, and evolution," pp.
    147-156, vol. 1, Battleground: Schools, ed. Sandra Mathison and E. Wayne
    Ross, Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 2007. (pdf)
  2. Reading: Barbara Forrest and Glenn Branch, "Wedging creationism into the
    academy," Academe 2005 Jan/Feb (link, pdf)
  3. Find the astronomy-related topics in http://www.answersingenesis.org and http://www.reasons.org

Ethical dilemmas in military research & technology transfer - (lecture slides pdf) -- Guest Lecture: Prof. Chris McKee

  1. Homework - think about answers to the following questions:
    • Intelligence gathering is essential in safeguarding the country from terrorist attacks. Should astronomers become involved in developing more powerful spy satellites to assist in this effort?
    • A number of countries have nuclear weapons, and more are developing them.
      Until such weapons can be brought under international control, what policy should
      the US adopt toward carrying out nuclear weapons research?
  2. Scan: Office of Naval Research Faculty Sabbaticals (pdf), UC e-mail (txt)
  3. Writer Michael Atiyah states that scientists such as Edward Teller encourage the arms race by "constantly developing more advanced technology". Who is Edward Teller? What impact did he have on the scientific research at the University of California? As you read about him, think about the types of ethical dilemmas he may have thought about and the ways in which he acted. Do you agree with the Atiyah statement? What codes of ethics are applicable?

Advocacy for Big Science: The role of scientists in setting national priorities - Guest Lecture: Prof. Steve Beckwith (Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, University of California)

  1. Reading: Is the role of kids significant? Why? (pdf, link)
  2. What ethical considerations led to the cancellation of a Hubble servicing mission? What ethical considerations led astronomers and other to advocate a reversal of this decision?
  3. Reading: A turning point for Hubble (pdf)
  4. Reading: Zimmerman's "Universe in a Mirror", Chapter 3 (pdf)
    • What is a "buy-in" and what is the "Black Art"? Are they unethical?

Science and Ethical Dilemmas in the Blogosphere - Franck Marchis (SETI Insttitute) pdf

Diversity & Inclusion - Guest Lecturers: Dr. Maryam Modjaz and Vice Chancellor Gibor Basri (UC Berkeley) (lecture slides pdf1, pdf2)

  1. Homework: Use the reading to help you answer the following questions:
  • How do you uncover and measure bias?
  • What do you think are the various reasons & factors why people might be leaving academia (specifically the natural sciences) at the different stages (undergrad, grad, postdoc)?
  • Imagine you are the chair of a selection committee for grad school/postdoc/faculty job. Describe how you would put together: (a) the people on the committee. and, (b) the selection process.
  • Read the UC sexual harassment training material. What are some of the most important points? Find one of the questions that needs improvement and present your version to the class.
  1. Read through http://www.aas.org/cswa/pasadenarecs.html
  2. Reading: No Leaky Pipeline for Women (pdf)
  3. Read the "Highlights" in the APS study (pdf)
  4. Reading: NAS Beyond Bias Summary (pdf), scan full contents here (link)
  5. Reading: Tierney NYT on Title IX (pdf)
  6. Scan the tables in Nelson 2007 paper (pdf)
  7. UC online training about sexual harassment for 2014 (pdf)