Scientific ethics and the role of the supervisor in research training

Scientific ethics and the role of the supervisor in research training

●Discussion Christine Biro and Martha Cecchinia Enger

Future research can not only be innovative, but must also be sustainable and contribute to finding lasting and equitable solutions. Then we must develop a culture for discussing broad, context-specific scientific ethical issues.

How should we enhance the scientific ethical competence of our candidates, ask our columnists. — In the School of Medicine, we will now use the mandatory introductory course for new doctoral candidates to discuss the ethics of medical research in a broad political, social, and cultural context (illustration).

This text is a discussion post. The content of the text expresses the author’s own opinion.

We just have it We have put behind us this year’s National Researcher Education Conference entitled Research Ethics and the Role of the Supervisor. National research ethics committees recently launched a Guide to institutional responsibility for research ethics. Here, training in research ethics and integrity is highlighted, but also the need for a good culture where standards are practiced and supervisors are role models.

this is important. The world is going through a major transition, with climate change, aging populations, geopolitical conflicts, and rapid developments in digital technology potentially challenging our access to the truth. The social mission of universities is to contribute effective solutions to these challenges locally, nationally and internationally.

Research ethics

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At the Faculty of Medicine (MED), At the University of Bergen, we have a vision to teach curious, critically thinking and independent PhDs. Candidates. MED has a strong PhD program, with approx. 100 new agreements and 100 theses per year, of which two-thirds are funded externally through health organizations and other sources including the Research Council, the European Union and the public sector, while one-third are funded by core grant. In 2022, the Faculty of Medicine’s graduate output represented 45% of UiB’s total research output, and had the highest proportion of publications with PhD candidates as co-authors.

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We have one Heterogeneous candidate profile with basic, clinical and social medical research and many undertaking research training in positions combined with other duties (eg doctors) and in collaboration with universities in the Global South. However, research training is completed within 6 years. 70% of those who started in 2018 defended their thesis in 2022 (average 74% for years 2019-2022) and spent approx. 3.4 years net time on Ph.D.

●Discussion Ole Christian Deskeland and Nicholas Gibney

Ideas for new supervisors

We mean this It is the result of a well-established quality assurance system with good routines for preparation of progress reports, staff interviews, mid-term evaluation and close follow-up of late candidates. MED also focuses on supervisor competence at different stages of the doctoral course. In addition, admissions committees have been established that review the hypotheses, objectives, methodology and feasibility of doctoral projects whose quality has not been assured through a competitive award.

Faculty of medicine Doctoral candidates are also the most satisfied with their research training, the most satisfied with their supervision, and 83% of them would recommend others to obtain a doctoral degree. 92% of UiB graduates (most from MED) said in the new graduate survey that they were in a permanent position one year after completing their thesis, with 85% stating that research training was crucial to their current position. In other words, this paints a different picture of candidate satisfaction than appeared in Khrono recently.

What are the qualities that a researcher should have? What education do these candidates bring with them? Our strategic plan is to educate independent, critically-minded and curious doctoral candidates who produce knowledge through research that is scientifically sound, fair and takes into account the social consequences of research.

●Discussion Trine Vossland and Anne Hagen Gosdal

National recommendations on guidance are on the way

Such as national research ethics committees This suggests that this requires more than just knowledge of legislation and guidelines against ethically unacceptable behavior such as fabricating and falsifying research and plagiarizing other people’s texts and ideas. It is also about establishing an understanding of how political, social and cultural conditions promote and inhibit research, and about the voices that are not heard and the knowledge needs that are overlooked. It is about raising awareness of how alternative epistemologies and concrete visions can be displaced if “inclusion” is not taken seriously on a fundamental level. It is about enhancing knowledge about the conditions for producing knowledge about different phenomena and respecting research regardless of discipline. It’s about being a researcher and doing research. It is about scientific ethics.

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All this is necessary To enable constructive cooperation in facing complex societal challenges. Future research can not only be innovative, but must also be sustainable. It must contribute to finding lasting and just solutions to environmental, economic and social problems.

If the strategy is to succeedInstitutes, centers and fields of study must develop a culture that reflects and discusses broad and contextual scientific ethical issues.


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How will we do? Enhance scientific ethical competence in our candidates? At the Faculty of Medicine, we will now use the compulsory introductory course for new doctoral candidates to discuss the ethics of medical research in a broad political, social and cultural context.

Inspired by In an article by Kenneth D. Pemble’s “Six Areas of Research Ethics” from 2002, we will leave students to work on evaluating their projects in light of three questions: Is the research project valid, that is, what is required to complete it in Is it consistent with standards of scientific integrity and sound use of methods? Is the project fair, that is, does it contribute to fair knowledge production where affected parties are involved, their views are addressed, and their needs are addressed? Is the project wise, i.e. does it contribute now or in the long term to solid and sustainable solutions to societal challenges? Doctoral candidates are encouraged to think about their projects in light of climate, environmental, economic and social justice considerations.

In the basic course, we facilitate So that candidates can refine their concepts and ideas about what is sustainable, valid, fair and wise research against the views of other candidates. The reflections can then be used constructively in compiling a doctoral thesis.

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PhD discussion

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In this way Research training at the Faculty of Medicine wants to stimulate a good culture of thinking about scientific ethics. We hope that candidates will bring their ideas to the research group through discussions and publication of papers. We make this easier by making modules from our introductory course available to supervisors. This is in addition to mandatory training for supervisors, courses and seminars.

The big question: Is this enough?

What experience do others have? What colleges have done in terms of developing scientific and moral competence? What works? What mistakes should be avoided? It would have been very welcome to discuss this matter through institutes and universities.

We want to educate Open, self-reflective and critically minded researchers, we must have places of encounter where the boundaries of the subject and the hegemony of knowledge are challenged. Last but not least, might it be appropriate for universities to create a central meeting place – for example, an annual event leading to credits for active participation – where PhD candidates and supervisors meet across faculties to hone their worldviews in focused discussions about research and science ethics?

●Discussion Ingvild Bergum Lundy

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