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  1. CSA1013:Historical and Scientific Perspectives on CS & AI Research Ethics Dr. Christopher Staff Department of Computer Science & AI University of Malta 1 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  2. Aims and Objectives • Extending knowledge • Trust • Effects on society and the environment • Reference: • Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. 1995. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research. National Academy Press. Available online at http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/obas/index.html 2 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  3. Research • Research is uncertain • Research can fail: in which case, time and money have been expended without results • There can be pressure to produce valid results • Promotions/Careers • Extensions to funding/contract renewals • Recognition 3 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  4. Science is a Social Activity • Approaches to scientific discovery are discussed among colleagues • Data, even when speculative, may be exchanged • Results are verified and disseminated • Published work is critiqued with a view to establishing its significance 4 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  5. Methodology • Methodologies are used to obtain results in a standard manner so that results of different experiments can be meaningfully compared • Methodologies do evolve, and as research pushes the frontiers of science, it may not be possible to use conventional techniques 5 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  6. Interpreting data • When we conduct research we pursue a line of enquiry because we believe it will lead to certain results • Corroboration of our expectations and bias • Objectivity • Collective validation 6 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  7. Conflicts of Interest • Is there a bias for producing a certain type of data? • Or that may influence the interpretation of the results? • Either can lead to unsafe scientific practices 7 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  8. Publication • Publication proves priority • Peer review • Trustworthiness • Timeliness • Citations! • Sharing 8 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  9. Citing Sources • List of authors - major contributors • Acknowledgements - other, significant contributors • References 9 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  10. Error and Negligence “Scientific results are inherently provisional. Scientists can never prove conclusively that they have described some aspect of the natural or physical world with complete accuracy. In that sense all scientific results must be treated as susceptible to error.” On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research 10 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  11. Error and Negligence • Honest mistakes • Mistakes caused through negligence 11 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  12. Misconduct • Fabricating data/results • Falsifying data/results • Plagiarism • These can all end up being dealt with in a very public arena • viz., the failure of the lead scientist to report a conflict of interest when conducting a study on the links between the MMR vaccine and autism (2004) • S. Korean doctor accused of falsifying human cloning results (2005) 12 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  13. Whistle-blowing • What do you do if you encounter unethical practices? 13 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt

  14. Conclusion • The most significant aspect of Research Ethics that you are likely to encounter as undergraduates is… Plagiarism • Do familiarise yourselves with plagiarism and how to avoid it 14 of 14 cstaff@cs.um.edu.mt