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Right, Wrong, and Shades of Gray

Whose name goes where on a paper? What's it like to serve as an expert witness in a courtroom? Ethical issues such as these inevitably will rear up--and potentially bite you--during your career. If you're struggling with some ethical problem, big or small, or simply seeking resources on the topic, then pay a visit to The Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science.

Although much of the site focuses on engineers and corporate settings, basic scientists will find a large and growing stash of material on research ethics. A section called Moral Leaders profiles people like Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring galvanized concern over the effect of pollutants on wildlife; and Roger Boisjoly, the engineer who knew about Challenger's flawed O-rings and tried to stop its ill-fated launch. Offering practical advice are a guide to intellectual property for students and a glossary explaining terms such as "plagiarism" and "conflict of interest." The many background documents range from a discussion of the proposed federal misconduct definition to a link to the Helsinki declaration protecting research subjects. Need more personal advice? Send an e-mail to the site's Help-Line.