New PhD Course in Research Ethics

This autumn, the PhD course "Research Ethics in Science and Technology" will be Chalmers’ first course for PhD students in the field of research ethics. Based on their own research, the doctoral students will highlight research ethical issues that are relevant to them. We asked course leader Petra Andersson, philosophy researcher, six questions about ethics and the course.

What is research ethics?
“Research ethics are all the ethical issues relating to research, both within the academy and in relation to the public, and between researchers and financiers and, of course, the relationship between researchers and what the research is about - especially when these are human or animal. Research is an important power factor in society, and with power follows responsibility. Therefore, research ethics are important.”


Why do you think a doctoral student should attend this course?
“To learn to identify ethical problems that are relevant to their own research and to the research area in which the PhD student is located.”

How will doctoral students be able to use their knowledge from the course in their daily work?
”They will develop an enhanced ability to identify ethical problems, identifying situations, not just facts, but also values ​​that are relevant, which is more often than we think within the academy. They will find that values ​​affect more of our different decisions and actions – even within the knowledge- and fact-intensive everyday life of scientific work – than we spontaneously believe.”

Which questions will be addressed in the course?
“Within technology research, questions arise about problems that may arise around or because of the product or the object of the research. Can the result be used destructively? Can the processes be used destructively? Key issues within the academy are of course about plagiarism, for example, about senior researchers who use student’s work as if they were their own. An interesting ethical question is how we do when we disagree with method selection or analysis. Not least, if the disagreement is simultaneously influenced by an academic grade, for example, if a doctoral student is skeptical about his or her supervisor's choice of method.”

Ethical research questions can vary between different research areas - how do you handle such differences in inputs to the subject in this course?
“The PhD students all work with their own research as the basis, and they are tasked with finding articles that highlight research ethical issues that are relevant in their own research. I assist in dealing with the ethical principles and concepts, while the PhD students independently work together to apply these principles and concepts based on their own knowledge of their own field of research.”

What are the important future challenges regarding research ethics?
“Within technology, it is to solve imminent environmental problems, preferably without causing new ones. But I also believe that we need to be much better at seeing how social science research and technology research needs to interact with each other, and I think we have a lot to work to do with understanding each other over the disciplinary boundaries. It is something that I think is ethically committed to making the future less uncertain.”

More information about the course "Research Ethics in Science and Technology" and on how to register

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Published: Tue 02 Oct 2018. Modified: Fri 05 Oct 2018