EE 590

Scientific Research Methods and Ethics for Engineers

Meeting times            : Friday 9:45, 10:45

Instructor                   : Bilge Karaçalý, PhD



This course will investigate the application of the scientific method to the scientific research practice in electrical and electronics engineering and the ethical concepts applicable to the publication practice during and after these research processes.  After the scientific method is presented to the students along with its applications in various disciplines, the methods followed in the scientific research projects within the specific field of electrical and electronics engineering will be explained within a framework of matters pertaining to project proposal preparation, submission of progress and final reports and publication of the obtained findings. Afterwards, science, publication and engineering ethics concepts including privacy of personal information, efficient use of resources and plagiarism in relation to both processes of conducting scientific research and publication of findings will be introduced.



Class Participation      20%

Project*                       40%

Final                            40%


*The term project is to be turned in by the final day of the semester, comprising a complete 4-page grant proposal typed using 10pt font size on a real or fictional project, including the following sections: Title, Abstract, Keywords, Aims, Literature Review, Methods, Work Plan and Budget.



Week 1            Course introduction, syllabus, assessment

Week 2            The scientific method

Week 3            Project proposal writing

Week 4            Technical report and scientific paper writing

Week 5            Engineering ethics

Week 6            Scientific research ethics

Week 7            Case studies – Excellence by Nonsense

                        Course reading:

Week 8            Case studies – Henrietta Lacks

                        Course reading: (also listen to the podcast)

Week 9            Case studies – Chernobyl accident

                        Course reading:

Week 10          Case studies – Challenger disaster

                        Course reading:

Week 11          Case studies – An authorship scenario

                        A junior faculty member in a university is preparing a grant application to carry out a career project. A senior faculty member in the department who is at a position to recommend him for promotion and long term employment and whose expertise is in a related field offers to be put on the researcher team of the project, claiming that his resume would increase the chances of the application for funding, even though he will not be involved at the execution of the actual project. Furthermore, as a member of the project team, the senior faculty would also be an author of all the ensuing publications. Discuss the alternative courses of action that the junior faculty member might take.

Week 12          Case studies – A safety scenario

                        An engineer is working on a strap-on medical device under development to be used on patients for health monitoring purposes. A prototype for the device has been developed and is in the process of application for board authorization on actual people as per the requirements of the project. However, at the last minute, he discovers that the device may induce a small electrical shock to the wearer under perspiration. Discuss the responsibilities of the engineer to all parties involved.

Week 13          Case studies – A conflict of interest scenario

                        A professor is asked to serve as a jury member to evaluate a doctoral student on their dissertation defense in a field that he is an expert. However, the work was carried out using financial support from a firm where he also serves as a technology consultant with a respectable fee. Discuss whether he should accept the invitation to join the jury committee and the possible reasons as well as the implications of his decision either way.

Week 14          Case studies – A confidentiality scenario

                        A recent PhD graduate has joined a technology firm as an employee and is placed in a team that is assigned to solve a technical issue that he has already solved in his dissertation work. However, the solution is in a process of being patented jointly by the university where he has conducted his doctoral work and a competing firm that has financed his research. Discuss the possible courses of action that the new graduate can take.