Research Ethics Videos

Role-Playing Scenarios

NCPRE Research Role-playing Scenarios

Articles on Responsible Conduct of Research Role-playing Scenarios

The development, testing, and formative assessment of nine role-play scenarios for the teaching of central topics in the responsible conduct of research to graduate students in science and engineering.

The summative assessment of role-play scenarios that we previously developed to teach central topics in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) to graduate students in science and engineering

Two-Minute Challenges

An Introduction: The Illinois Two-Minute Challenge (2MC) Approach

2MCs for Research Ethics

Authorship (Graduate version)
You are a beginning graduate student, having started in the program six months ago. Your advisor hands you a manuscript by one of the postdocs in your group and asks you to check the correspondence between numbers in a data sheet and the paper and to proofread it carefully …

Authorship (Undergraduate version)
You are an undergraduate research intern, just starting in a lab. Your supervisor hands you a manuscript by a postdoc in the group and asks you to check the correspondence between numbers in a data sheet and the paper and to proofread it carefully …

Smoking Gun
You had just become a postdoc for a PI who gave me data on 50 subjects to work with. However, the research coordinator, who was resigning, told you that fMRI scans had only been done on 6 of the 50 subjects and that the results did not support the PI’s hypotheses …

Intellectual Property – Copyright
A scientist is invited to give a talk at a conference, sponsored in part by a US scientific organization and in part by a non-US scientific society. A condition of participating is to upload a manuscript containing the essence of the talk prior to the conference …

2MCs for Business Education

Stop Sign
It’s 2 a.m. and you are out with some friends. You are driving. The roads seem deserted. You come to a stop sign. Do you stop? …

Your Resume
You have taken advantage of the many opportunities the University of Illinois has to offer. You are heavily involved in the Greek system, volunteer at the local food shelter, and have season tickets …

I‐Clicker
You are taking a large lecture class with over 600 students in Foellinger Auditorium. You have a group of friends that you normally sit with during the class. The professor takes attendance by asking I–Clicker questions each class …

Employee Discount
Your student loans do not cover the entire cost of college for you. While your parents would like to help, they just cannot do any more right now. In order to pay your bills, you get a job at one of …

You Pick Two
Your dream company has come on campus to interview. They have decided to award you an “alternate” interview slot, meaning you have the last pick at signing up. They have two openings: one at 2 pm, …

Office Supplies
You are working at your summer internship. While having lunch in the break room, you overhear another intern talking about how great it is to have access to all of these office supplies and how he’s …

Library/Database Use
You are working as an intern when your supervisor asks you to do a rush research project on reputation management strategies of executives who use social media. You know that you could do a fast, quality job using the University of Illinois Library resources …

Submitting Receipts
It is your first job after school. You are an accountant for a small firm in Chicago. One day, your supervisor hands you a set of receipts from a restaurant and lounge, and asks you to process them …

Game Reviews
You are an intern for an independent video game development company. Your supervisor asks you to write and post under your own name rave reviews for games that are made by your company, regardless of …

Friend Asking You for a Recommendation
You have a summer internship with a very competitive firm. It’s been a great summer, and you have made a lot of good connections. You are telling your good friend about your experiences and s/he …

Conduct Abroad
You are the CEO of a large, multinational corporation. You have been alerted to payments by one of your major foreign subsidiaries that may be construed as bribery of government officials …

Brand Manager
You are working as a Brand Manager, Right after the release of a highly publicized new product, after shipping over 4,000 units to your customers, you receive a report that your R&D team has …

Pollution vs Profit
You are the CEO of a US-based company that specializes in producing high-tech products that are growing rapidly in the market. Your company is experiencing tremendous economic growth, and you …

A Tale of Five Fire Trucks
You are beginning to budget for the holiday season, and you must purchase gifts for your three children. Your total budget for gifts is $75, and although this is a bit of a stretch for you, you want …

Reverse or Not?
You are the CEO of Alpha Computers, a large multinational electronics company. Your company pays royalties to Beta Electronics Suppliers for special-purpose and unique components used in a key …

Not Expired or You’re Fired?
You have just been hired at McDonald’s in China. You’ve heard that it is statistically more difficult to be hired by McDonald’s than it is to gain acceptance to Harvard University, so this is a great …

Flitter and Freedom
You are CEO of Flitter, a social media company that allows users to share short messages. As a popular blog recently stated, “Flitter famously publishes government data requests and positions itself …



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Active Learning Exercises

Responses to research ethics dilemmas require quick analysis of the situation, moving through a problem solving strategy to decide on a course of action. To effectively develop these problem solving skills, learners need to be actively engaged in practicing these skills – to make them habits which reduce the cognitive load needed for dealing with new situations. Two active learning strategies that can be used for developing problem-solving skills for research ethics dilemmas are role-playing scenarios and two-minute challenges.

Managing Up – Quick Tips

Managing Up – Quick Tips

Five quick tips to establish an effective working relationship with the person you report to.

Set an Efficient Communication Early On

Efficient communication is critical for establishing a good working relationship. Maximize your knowledge on working styles of the person you report to, his/her goals, and the constraints s/he faces. Pay attention to the language, word choice, or communication style of the person; establishing effective communication early on is critical for good working relationship, so ask important questions: “how would you like to receive information from me?” Ask about how s/he prefers you to communicate: email? voicemail? paper documents? texts?

Sample scripts for effective communication

  • How would you like to receive information from me?
  • How do you prefer to communicate? Email, voicemail, paper document, text, or in-person discussion?
  • How often do you want to receive updates?

This information will prepare you with effective and appropriate strategies for working effectively with the person.

Frame Your Need Around Common Interests and Goals

Learn as much as you can about the person whom you report to, and his or her priorities, goals, and challenges. Invest time to build a good working relationship within the available time constraints: ask about his or her job and what he or she seeks most from you in your role. Clearly understand your own interests to find the common ground between yours and his or hers. If you also know yourself and focus on communicating through common interests, you will have more successful meetings than if you go in with a “me-first” approach. Avoid egocentric presentations; instead, reframe ideas and present them in a way that highlights how your interests align and why what you are seeking is relevant to his or her goals. Remember that human beings have strong hypocrisy detectors! This is not about manipulation or being false: the ultimate purpose is to respect time and resource and to achieve institutional goals through efficient communication.

Expect Some Difficulties

It is reasonable to expect difficulties working among high achievers. Anticipate some by-products of high confidence in your interactions and be prepared for them. Take a step back and focus on solving problems and addressing issues together rather than seeing your interactions as a power struggle. You have both personal and institutional/role relationships, and maintaining cordial personal interactions and seeking a problem-solving stance in alignment with those to whom you report will make it more likely that you can help your unit advance at the same time. Your responsibility to serve as an advocate for your unit may not always align with the constraints and larger picture faced by the person to whom you report, so it can be a delicate task to walk the line between being a good advocate for your unit and being a good institutional citizen. There may be a steep learning curve about when to keep asking and when it is your duty to take adverse news back to your unit.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

One-to-one time with the person you report to may be scarce. Your responsibility is to prepare. Efficient meetings are appreciated by everyone. When you meet, have a clear idea in mind of your goals and what you’re presenting with a tangible action plan; where necessary, and especially for difficult topics, prepare personal scripts beforehand. To maximize the likelihood of prompt and constructive responses, do not approach only with a problem. No one wants a tangled mess left on his or her desk, with the tag line: “Over to you, boss.” Your job is to get the most out of her or his input during the meeting, and work to solutions. If there are options in a situation, be ready to effectively present and articulate them. If you are to persuade the person, clearly present your argument with supporting data. Whining up may release your anxiety on an issue, but it is never an effective way to make your opinions heard.

Policies, Procedures, and Principals Are Your Friends

Approach your duties with principled positions; don’t make it about personalities. Familiarize yourself with institutional rules, boundaries, and control systems. Take the time to learn where the limits are drawn and make sure your requests or proposals are consistent with them–or build a strong case for an exception.

© C.K. Gunsalus. Licensed through the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 2017



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Listening and Asking Questions – Quick Tips

Listening and Asking Questions – Quick Tips

Five quick tips for understanding the nuances and benefits of listening in the workplace.

Listening Matters

  • Listen to the people who work with and for you. This is an essential duty and an invaluable skill in leadership. Knowing their minds is crucial to building a sense of trust and community with those people, and you will gain important information and new perspectives in the process.
  • Listening is a powerful tool for increasing your stock at work, at any position. It helps you ensure you are looking out for all the members of your team, as well as your external and internal stakeholders.
  • If the people who work under you are comfortable bringing their ideas, concerns and issues to you, they will generally be happier and more productive, and you will know about problems and potential problems sooner. It is important for people to know who they can go to if they have a problem. When the boss is regarded as a good listener, everyone is more at ease.

Active Listening vs Passive Listening

  • There are different kinds of listening and they are best suited to different kinds of conversations. Whether you need to employ active listening or passive listening depends largely on what you believe the other person’s goals are in the conversation…
    • Is this a discussion in which you need to learn something? Perhaps gather more information or more perspectives regarding an incident? This indicates that you should ask particular questions to draw out details and paraphrase their statements to confirm understanding.
    • Are you having a conversation where someone is upset about something? Maybe the person just needs to vent, or perhaps he or she is just seeking your moral support or sympathy? Such a conversation may still involve questions to confirm understanding, and may generally need more simple responses through body language and affirmation.
  • Sometimes it is enough for people to simply feel they have been heard; other times you will need to invest more actively in the conversation to glean more details, and confirm facts.

Good Follow Up Questions are a Part of Good Listening

  • Particularly in difficult conversations, try to focus on asking follow up questions rather than just reacting to what you are hearing. This can be an effective means of keeping the conversation steady and avoiding escalation.
    • Simple questions like “And then what happened?” or “Can you tell me more about that?” serve not only to elicit more information, they also acknowledge your engagement and presence in the moment with the speaker.
  • Phrasing questions in an open-ended manner promotes purity in what you’re being told. When your queries are leading, you may find you wind up hearing what you want to hear, rather than what the person is really trying to say.
  • Take care not to “weaponize” your questions. Do not use them as a means of attack or to elicit “gotcha!” moments. Cultivate curiosity in the way you ask questions.
    • e.g.: if some aspect of a project has not been progressing at the pace you expected, asking “I’m trying to understand how we got here, can you walk me through these events?” is an effective way of delivering your assessment in a way that promotes cooperation and elicits information. Asking “what were you thinking when you did X??” delivers the same assessment but immediately puts the person on the defensive.

Listening is influencing

  • The single most powerful way to influence people is to listen to them. It helps to build rapport, indicating that you care about them and what they have to say. It is an efficient way of accumulating information and reducing misunderstandings.
  • Very few of us are ever heard clearly or truly understood. If you are able to make those who come to you with their issues feel that way, you will increase your value immeasurably in the eyes of your colleagues.
  • When you are regarded as a good listener, people tend to listen more carefully to you as well. You are able to convey your ideas more effectively and present more convincing arguments to others. The best listeners in an organization are also frequently the biggest influencers.
  • Listening carefully also pays huge dividends in negotiations, allowing you to focus on the interests of all parties involved and find potential extra value to bring to the table.

Nonverbal Aspects of Listening

  • Body language plays an important role in conversations, and is often overlooked or not thought about at all because many of its effects are not obvious … some are even subconscious. In a surprisingly short time span, body language can aid you in establishing rapport and trust with another person, or antagonize the person without you even realizing it.
    • The orientation of your shoulders and center of mass can indicate your level of engagement in a conversation. Are you facing the other person? Angling to the side can give the impression you are not fully focused, not truly listening, or perhaps don’t care about the situation as much as you could.
    • Likewise, your posture and sitting position give off signals about your level of interest. Slouching and leaning back can make one seem unconcerned or aloof, whereas leaning in too far forward can come off as aggressive or even irritated.
    • Head movement and eye contact convey a lot of information about your current state. Not responding at all and never making eye contact indicates no enthusiasm for the conversation, while staring too hard, fidgeting or nodding vigorously appears frenetic. As always, maintaining a balance is the goal, between showing you are engaged and exhibiting a sense of calm.
  • Not all conversations call for the same uses of body language. For example, if you are discussing data or examining materials, orienting yourself towards those assets rather than the person you are with can help to keep the conversation on point, or de-escalate when things are getting tense. As always, assessing whether your body language is effective is best done by watching for the impact you are having.
  • One of the simplest means of establishing rapport via your body language is to mirror your partner. This doesn’t mean mimicking his or her every move. It is about adopting similar sitting positions, angling your head the same way, or using shared styles of speech. Two people in rapport will often exhibit these similarities unconsciously

©C.K. Gunsalus. Licensed through the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 2017



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Issue Spotting – 5 Quick Tips

Issue Spotting – 5 Quick Tips

1. Don’t take it personally

People coming to you with problems and complaints may often be upset or agitated. Their distress may well have nothing to do with you as an administrator, but is simply a byproduct of their familiarity and proximity to the issue in question. To the maximum extent possible, try not to get defensive when they complain and do not jump to conclusions about their causes or solutions. Thank the person for reporting the problem – better you know about it than not, especially if it turns out to be a misunderstanding – and then set about collecting the facts.

2. Never act on a complaint without hearing all sides of the story

Many complaints and problems stem from people perceiving the same set of facts in different ways. Get as full a picture of any situation as possible by telling all involved that the issue has been brought to your attention and that you need to collect more information on it. Avoid accusations while gathering information, simply inform people in a low-key manner that an issue has been brought to your attention and you are attempting to collect basic information about it.

3. Follow up!

Just as problems can arise from a difference in perspective, a meeting with someone bringing a complaint to you can be remembered differently by different parties. If you have concerns that your advice was not clearly heard, send a short note or email about your meeting summarizing what was said and what subsequent actions were discussed. Good news can be put in writing, but bad news should be delivered in person.

4. Never attribute to malice that which incompetence will explain

The person bringing a complaint to you may have concerns or biases which are deeply rooted and possibly irrelevant to the actual issue. Their own opinions of another individual or group may color their interpretation of what happened. Sometimes what seems like intentionally bad behavior is actually the result of inattention, inaction, miscommunication or ineptitude. These may require dealing with in their own right, but do not assume malicious intent without clarifying the situation. Ask questions and repeat back answers to confirm your understanding.

5. Say what you’ll do and do what you say

Once you have decided on a course of action, no matter what it is, follow through on it when you say you will. Nothing will compromise your credibility more than to make commitments you do not fulfill or to declare boundaries you do not ultimately enforce. Stick to your plan or people may end up doubting you in future situations, making your job more difficult in the long run. Follow up on your actions as you do them, keeping each party apprised of developments. Leaving distraught or anxious people hanging can make matters worse – what they imagine might be happening during that time is often worse than the reality.

© Jeremy D. Meuser and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 2017



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These videos are part of a series of videos on Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) produced by the Office of Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.




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