The role of supervisors on research ethics

The case study I have chosen for the examination of research ethics is the research misconduct in a project supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). In this project, following wrongdoings were committed:

(1) fabricating the results of the T-maze behavioral experiment for control mice to make it appear as though he had conducted the experiments

(2) falsifying the laboratory data and the animal transfer logs in an effort to cover up his actions, and

(3) reporting the fabricated and falsified data to his laboratory supervisors and principal investigator

I chose this case as I felt empathy to some degree with the respondent. The reason is that when somebody’s work is tied with experimentation (including myself), it is quite common to undergo some critical moments when a bunch of small and big issues are keeping you away from the desired output.

When your threshold for fighting against these challenges is a bit low, you may break down at any of these key moments. The actions taken in this case is a reflection of the breakdown. In my opinion, there are many of us who get quickly overwhelmed when bottlenecks happen across our paths. It is a natural reaction of our mind, and a good supervisor is one who prepares you against these moments. A good supervisor knows that the student wants to prove himself/herself to the advisor as quickly as possible and strives to keep the supervisor satisfied all the time. Knowing this, the supervisor should ensure the student that he/she can also discuss the problems without any consequences. The student should be made sure that missing a deadline is not worst thing in the world, and achieving genuine results is worthy enough to be patient, face challenges, and overcome them.

All in all, in my opinion, most of the cases that a student commits such falsifications occur when the student is worried about the consequences of reporting a problem instead of the results; and every student should be convinced that this is a common step toward the goal…

 

A Mission Statement Comparison: University of Cambridge vs. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

In this article, we compare and analyze the mission statements of two quite different higher ed institutions in terms of their foundation date; one is the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (founded in 1991), one of the most successful institutions in the list of youngest universities. The other one is University of Cambridge in United Kingdom which is founded in 1209 and is among the oldest educational institutions across the globe, also being continuously enumerated as one of the most . Let us begin the comparison with an overview of the mission statements of these two institutions:

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST):

source: ust.hk

Mission Statement

To advance learning and knowledge through teaching and research, particularly:
– in science, technology, engineering, management and business studies; and
– at the postgraduate level;
To assist in the economic and social development of Hong Kong.

Core Values:

  • Excellence, Integrity, and Academic Freedom
  • Global Vision and Local Commitment
  • Can-do Spirit
  • Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Respect

University of Cambridge (UCamb):

Source: Guardian

 

 

Mission Statement

The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence.

Core values

  • freedom of thought and expression
  • freedom from discrimination

In the first glance, one can see that in HKUST mission statement, an emphasis is put on the nation’s economic and social development. On the other hand, UCamb targets the cutting-edge research and education at its highest standards. Moreover, HKUST emphasizes directly on some disciplines including engineering, management and business while UCamb apparently cherishes the science at its most general term (at least in the mission statement).

By looking into the core values, it can be comprehended that HKUST adds more weight to the importance of inclusion and diversity. Despite mentioning “freedom from discrimination” as one of the core values, UCamb does not refer to the inclusion as a goal/value.

All in all, the mission statement and core values of UCamb were well-organized in the sense that the mission statement’s attention revolved mostly around the ambition for excellence at global levels while the core values emphasize on the freedom of thoughts and from discrimination. But in HKUST’s, the mission statement and core values had overlapping interests (nation’s progress, excellence in academic research and education) with a broader attention toward inclusion, diversity and freedom of speech.