Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Be a Moderator in the 2013 Regional Ethics Bowl Competition on November 23rd!

The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions would like to invite you to be a moderator in the Upper Midwest Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl on Saturday, November 23rd  at IIT’s main campus. Come and be a part of this exciting competition!
The Ethics Bowl combines the fun of a competitive tournament with a valuable educational experience for undergraduate students. In the ethics bowl, a moderator poses questions to teams of three to five students. Questions may concern ethical problems on wide ranging topics, such as the classroom (e.g. cheating or plagiarism), personal relationships (e.g. dating or friendship), professional ethics (e.g. engineering, law, medicine), or social and political ethics (e.g. free speech, gun control, etc.) Each team receives a set of ethical issues in advance of the competition, and questions posed to teams at the competition are taken from that set. A panel of judges evaluates answers; rating criteria are intelligibility, focus on ethically relevant considerations, avoidance of ethical irrelevance, and deliberative thoughtfulness.
IIT will be sponsoring two teams this year who will be competing against 18 different teams from universities around the Midwest.

The competition will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We will have a judges' & moderators' training breakfast at 8:30, and then there will be four different rounds of ethics bowl, two before lunch, and two after lunch. Both lunch and breakfast will be provided, as well as parking passes on campus. A moderator's role is to help keep the rounds running  on time, read out the questions, and collect the scores of the judges at the end of the match. It a great way to be part of the competition without the stress of having to judge or compete!
If you have questions or are interested in being a part of the competition, please email Kelly Laas at
We hope you can join us!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Must Read Articles on Science Communication

In their October 4th issue, Science has a pretty incredible collection of articles that I am having a hard time not quoting in every conversation I have with my colleagues and students. The articles cover a number of old and new issues in science communication- everything from the the benefits and challenges of open access publishing to the world of classified academic journals - and hopefully will elicit some much needed conversations about these issues in the scientific disciplines.

The star article of the collection has to be "Who's Afraid of Peer Review" by John Bohannon, which describes the frightening number of open-access academic journals who published his spoof scientific paper without any sort of adequate peer review process. The spoof paper included a number of glaring errors and suspect conclusions that any reputable scientist should have caught. Unfortunately, of the 255 papers he submitted to journals that made it through the full review process, a full 157 of these journals accepted the faulty paper compared to 98 journals who rejected it.

When the article hit the web last week, it garnered its own share of criticism. Many bloggers and other scientists have pointed out that Bohannon should have also submitted his spoof paper to traditional subscription journals as well - it would have been helpful to be able to draw comparisons- and the fact that a subscription-based journal published this article criticizing open access in itself raises some conflict of interest flags. The problem could be not just with open-access journals, but with  lower-level academic journals of all kinds who fail to adequately review papers before they publish. In response to this criticism, the author stated that while he planned to submit papers to both open-access and subscription journals, he soon realized the complexity and time needed for such a huge study, and scaled back his investigation to include only open-access journals.

Whatever your final conclusions about this article, it is impossible to ignore the real problems that plague the world of scientific publishing - open access and more traditional journals alike. So over lunch today, I highly recommend digging in to this issue of Science and some of the related discussion it has prompted in the blogosphere. You won't regret the time spent.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Study Looks at the the Thrill Individuals Get from Cheating...What Does This Mean Ethics Educators (and Educators in General)?

When you engage in unethical behavior, you are supposed to feel somewhat guilty, right? A study recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has shown that individuals involved in six different studies reported a "cheater's high" after they cheated on different problem-solving tasks. This "cheater's high" occurred even in individuals who predicted that they would feel guilty after engaging in unethical behavior, and even when the financial incentive to cheat was removed. The New York Times has an good summary of the article.

The authors of the study predicted that, barring a financial incentive, or relief at not being caught,  people feel good about cheating because of a sense of self-satisfaction or a sense of superiority. This "cheater's high" points to a potential difficulty in changing  this kind of behavior. One way may be to eliminate the anonymity of the cheater, or emphasize how others are hurt by cheating. What are your thoughts on how this study might change your way of addressing issues of plagiarism and cheating in the classroom and beyond?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fall Break Hours

CSEP Library will be open normal hours on Monday, October 7th. We will be closed October 5-6th.