Scientific Research Methods and Ethics for Engineers
Meeting times : Tuesday 13:30, 14:30
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 50%
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: http://book.openingscience.org/basics_background/excellence_by_nonsense.html
Week 8 Case studies – Henrietta Lacks
Course reading: http://www.npr.org/2010/02/02/123232331/henrietta-lacks-a-donors-immortal-legacy (also listen to the podcast)
Week 9 Case studies – Chernobyl accident
Course reading: http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/chernobyl-accident.aspx
Week 10 Case studies – Challenger disaster
Course reading: http://www.history.com/topics/challenger-disaster
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.