An ethical problem in science Hwei-yen Andres Lucie Murielle Jakub Valerie Eryn
The problem… A scientist’s findings conflict with the motivations of their employer/funding source or scientific community
For example… Olivieri Study Clinical trial on deferiprone had signed confidentially agreement with company toxic effect on patients? reported to ethics board, published in NEJM whistleblower!
The solution… Report the problem to the ethics board break the contract, stop the study lose your credibility, job, funding publish without consent from stakeholders
1. Internal ethical problems • Obvious threat on the interests • supervisor/funding source/scientific community: bad publicity, loss of money, previous results/projects made irrelevant... you threatens career perspectives, status, funding, credibility, trust in working context
2. External ethical problems • Whistleblowing may undermine the credibility of science • Provides ammunition for people that are against certain venue of research • People have the right to know • People may be affected by results
3. Alternative solutions • Do nothing continue the study thrust the system instead and hope things get solved at the end • Publish anonymously lose control over the data? Story? (e.g. Student t-test) • Leak the information Let media, social media spread the story
4. who is affected? patients or study subjects shareholders if corporately funded scientific community university community journals public consumption public perception
Question 5: What values, interests, duties, standpoints and attitudes are involved in the use of your solution and the possible alternative? • Values: morality, honesty, altruism and anticipation for the suffering of others! • Interests of - the company & staff involved in the study: monetal profit and prestige (also to ensure funding for future studies). - patients/ study objects/society: being cured or at least not harmed by the treatment • Duties of the ones in charge & involved: protecting patients from harm and informing them about potential risks.
Question 5: What values, interests, duties, standpoints and attitudes are involved in the use of your solution and the possible alternative? • Standpoints & attitudes of - stakeholder: We want to make money! We need to publish in order to attract future funding! We don’t care if there are side effects/ we don’t believe there are! Let’s blame it on somebody else if something goes wrong! - staff involved in study: We trust the stakeholder, they know what they are doing! We don’t care as long as we are getting paid! Something might be wrong, but let’s wait and see what happens! Something is wrong, I need to do something! People that at the end of the day need to provide for families and themselves. They will put their own welfare above others.
6 What Effects will your solution (and the alternatives) have on each of these values? Will these solutions fit certain values and conflict with others? What values and how? RPEB Lk DN Honesty Altruism Anti-capitalism Loyalty Trustworthy Awareness Deceitfulness Egoism Capitalism Infidelity Unreliability Naivety
7. Optimal solution? Based on VR… • Report to the board: people’s welfare > needs of society & sciencevalue of the knowledge > the risks • Publish anyway: according to Swedish Research Council, deferring publication for more than 2 months or 4 months is not allowed. • Leak to media: preliminary and unverified results should not be made public. • Do nothing: the researcher should think through, keep debating and keep an open view on the results.