Grey matters (pun intended)

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to speak about research integrity (as outlined in Singapore Statement, 2010; Universities UK Concordat, 2012) to a cohort of first-year doctoral researchers in the School of Arts. One message I wanted to get across was that RI is not to throw in some nice, Boy-Scouty words such as honesty and respect, and that it is something very close to our everyday life as a researcher.

20160119_side_mirrorPhoto by Carol Blyberg (smilla4) under CC A-NC 2.0

Considering the little choices that we make at every turn of a research project, nothing is black and white. There are instead a lot of grey areas with shifting boundaries (or ‘multiple boundaries’ as one of the discussants put it during the seminar), and you will just need to draw a line somewhere – a line that is acceptable in your context but more importantly you are comfortable with.

So, as brain exercises (hence the pun), I presented some hypothetical dilemmas to the participants. I don’t mean dilemmas that are as dramatic as those in the famous Justice lecture series but rather small and mundane ones. I then asked the participants where their lines would be and how they had come to their decisions.

Those exercises generated rich and vibrant discussions in the classroom. I was quite pleased with how the session went, and now I keep having more ideas that I could have used. So I thought I’d build up a list here – for my own resource but perhaps also for anyone looking for essay prompts or something.

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