Biological Psychology/ NS 232A

Course Syllabus
Ethics, Professional Standards and Responsible Conduct
PSYC 896
SP 2011
Office Hrs:
Philip J. Langlais, Ph.D.
130C MGB
Class Location:
130 MGB
Tues 4:20-7:00PM
Ethics in Plain English: An Illustrative Casebook for Psychologists, 2nd
Ed., 2005, by Thomas F. Nagy, American Psychological Association.
Do The Right Thing: Living Ethically in an Unethical World, by T. G.
Plante, 2004, New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research, Revised
Edition, 2004, Nicholas Steneck, Dept. of Health and Human Services,
Washington, DC
“An unexamined life is not worth living”
"There is one thing alone that stands the brunt of life throughout its course: a quiet conscience." Euripides
“There is nothing more dangerous than ignorance in action.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” Mark Twain
"The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not also a man of honor," notes Sir
Colenso Ridgeon in George Bernard Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma
After successfully completing this class, students will be able to:
1. Recognize professional situations that require thoughtful consideration of the underlying
values and the consequences of your behavior.
2. Describe her/his development of a “professional ethical identity”
2. Describe the ethical decision-making processes by which s/he arrives at a course of
3. Understand and apply five ethical principles that guide ethical decision-making.
4. Describe the APA codes of ethical behavior, professional standards, legal issues and
responsibilities required of professional psychologists.
5. Demonstrate competence in record-keeping, communication, confidentiality, informed
consent and related procedures used to protect client/student rights within applicable ethical
6. Demonstrate an understanding of the ethical responsibility involved in the design,
approval, implementation, evaluation and communication of data-based research.
7. Synthesize research findings and personal analyses into well-constructed and effectively
delivered short papers and presentations..
The course will examine the processes that underlie the sometimes difficult choices as well as
the opposing or competing values, codes, and outcomes encountered in the professional lives of
psychologists. The course will begin with an introduction to ethical systems and principles and
progress into discussions of various professional activities that require ethical decision-making.
APA codes of ethical behavior, professional standards, legal issues and other responsibilities of
professional psychologists will be examined, discussed and applied in the context of a variety of
clinical and research settings.
This course is designed to engage students in active learning, enhancing critical and creative
thinking, and effective communication of timely topics in ethics, professional standards and
responsible conduct. As a result of the active and self-directed nature of this learning
experience, this course will not involve lectures. Rather, learning, critical thinking and decisionmaking skills will be acquired through reading, researching, discussing and communicating
ideas, values, principles, codes, and standards on a variety of topics.
APA (2002). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. American
Psychologist, 57(12):1060-1073.
Bebeau, M.J. (1995). Developing a well-reasoned response to a moral problem in scientific
Research. Indiana University, Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and
American Institutions.
DuBois, J.M. (2007). Ethics in Mental Health Research: Principles, Guidance, and Cases
Oxford Univ. Press.
Fisher, C.B. (2009). Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologists. Sage
Greene, J. (2003). From neural “is” to moral “ought?” what are the neural implications of
neuroscientific moral psychology? Nature Reviews 4:847-850,
Handelsman, M.M., Gottlieb, M.C., Knapp, S. (2005). Training ethical psychologists: An
acculturation model. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36(1):59-65.
Kellman, S.G. (2010) Honor Among Scholars, A Chronicle Review, Oct 3, 2010:
Koocher, G.P. Keith-Spiegel, P. (2009). Ethics in Psychology and the Mental Health
Professions: Standards and Cases. 3ed, Oxford Univ. Press.
Macrina, F.L. (2005). Scientific Integrity-Text and Cases in Responsible Conduct of Research,
3rd Ed., ASM Press, Washington, D.C.
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, A framework for thinking ethically,
Plante, T.G. (2004) Do the Right Thing, New Harbinger Publications
Shapiro, H.T. (2001). Ethical and Policy Issues in Research Involving Human Participants,
National Bioethics Advisory Commission-Report and Recommendations.
Sieber, J.E., Stanley, B. (1988). Ethical and professional dimensions of socially sensitive
Research. American Psychologist, 43(1): 49-55.
Steneck, N.H. (2004) ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research, Office of
Research Integrity, Washington, DC.
1. A SELF-REFLECTION – SHORT PAPER- As described by Handelsman (Training Ethical
Psychologists: An Acculturation Model, vide supra), “psychology, as a profession and a
scientific discipline, represents a discrete culture with its own traditions, values, and methods
of implementing its ethical principles” and ”becoming an ethical professional is more
complex than simply following a set of rules or doing what one sees one’s mentors do.” The
process of acculturating to the culture of psychology and its ethical traditions requires that
you explore and understand your current set of values, ethics, and background. To
accomplish this goal, you will compose a self-reflection short paper (2-3 pages, doublespaced) in which you will explore and address the questions: Where does your sense of right
and wrong professional behavior come from? What is your idea of right and wrong? Do you
ascribe to the assessment that “ the ends justifies the means?” What aspects of the field of
psychology and the scientific method are most compatible with who you are and which are
not? You are under no obligation to disclose any personal information that you do not want
to (See APA Ethics Code, Standard 7.04). Your short paper must be submitted
electronically to Blackboard by January 25. Toward the end of the course, you will be
required to take another look at your self-reflection and submit another short paper that
describes if and what ways have your answers to the original questions have changed. This
second self-reflection short paper will be due April 19.
and preparing reaction paper-read “Developing a Well-Reasoned Response to a Moral
Problem in Scientific Research” by Bebeau will be posted in Blackboard. A case
study/scenario will assigned each week for group discussion and the submission of a reaction
paper. Students will be randomly assigned to small groups to discuss case studies that
involve issues and decisions in several important areas, e.g., conflict of interest,
confidentiality, human subjects & informed consent, misconduct, publications/authorships,
peer review, among others. Group assignments will be posted in Blackboard by January 9th.
In preparation for group discussion, students are expected to read the appropriate ethical code
and any material that will help understand the issue and contribute to the discussion. By
5pm of the Sunday following each group discussion, each student will submit via Blackboard
a 2-3 page reaction paper. These papers are NOT group projects and will scored on the
following criteria: 1- Brief (1 paragraph) summary of the facts and identification of
stakeholders (10 pts); 2- Identification of the problem and summary of the ethical
dilemma(s) (10 pts); 3- Analysis of contingencies operating on stakeholders; 4- Description
of ethical framework operating on stakeholders; 5- Writer’s recommended course of action to
resolve dilemma (20 pts); 6- APA style (10 pts); 7-three page maximum, double-spaced, 1012 pt font (10 pts); and Scholarly treatment of subject (20 pts).
successful completion of the course is the submission of a major paper on either an ethical
issue or a professional issue or one that encompasses both. The purpose of this paper is to
give you the opportunity to explore an issue or question in more-depth. In so doing, you will
integrate and demonstrate what you have learned and the critical analytical skills that you
have acquired through readings and group discussions.
The paper should be no less than 7 and no more than 10 pages in length. The cover page and
references do not count toward this page length requirement. The paper must make
appropriate use of the course readings and atleast five outside journal articles or book
chapters. The references must be in APA style.
Your paper will be graded on the following criteria:
a. Application and integration of course concepts – Demonstration of a solid
understanding of the course materials and the skills to apply them in the
understanding and treatment of an important issue.
b. Demonstration of the critical and creative use and integration of resources– you must
go beyond a summary what you’ve read, present well-balanced arguments, go beyond
the obvious and delve into specifics, fuzzy and difficult concepts and arguements.
c. Demonstration of a high level of organizational and communication skills – how well
you communicate in writing is a reflection of how well you are thinking. Your good
ideas are not apparent if they are not communicated effectively. Organization and
ability to convey what you mean are critical.
Your paper can be one of the following:
A critical review of the literature and a reflection of your position on a specific issue
A paper that explores your own policy and its justification on a particular issue
An application of ethical reasoning to some issue or activity in applied psychology
A paper that describes your own professional acculturation process in light of a key
h. A research proposal
A hard copy and an electronic file of the rough draft of your major paper is due on March
16th . In composing the rough draft you will begin to grapple with the thoughts,
perspectives, uncertainties and confusion that are inherent in the thinking and learning
process. Thus, I don’t expect nor want the rough draft to be perfect or finished but I do
expect it to reflect a substantive effort. I will grade your rough draft based mostly on
content, integration and creative and critical thinking. However, this doesn’t mean that
you shouldn’t pay attention to style and organization. The final paper will be graded on
the previous listed criteria.
4. CLASS PARTICIPATION: A large proportion of our time will be spent discussing concepts,
principles, codes, standards, and case studies, either as an entire class or in small groups. As
I have emphasized before, the success of this course is based on active learning. Your active
engagement in discussions, asking questions, responding to questions, attending classes and
meeting with me one-on-one, are essential to active learning and to attaining the course
learning outcomes. Grading class participation will be assessed on the following criteria:
a. Level of active exploration and questioning
b. Willingness and ability to shift focus from self to others or from one point-of-view to
another point of view
c. Voluntarily contributing information obtained from resources within and outside the
d. Stimulating others to explore ideas and/or different points of view
e. Respecting and affirming the contributions of others
Your final grade will be based on the various assessments of how well you have demonstrated
the 7 Learning Outcomes (outlined above) in each of the course activities. Points will be
assigned for each of the course requirements and the final grade assigned as follows:
1. Self-Reflection Short Paper
2. Case Study Reaction Papers (50 pts each)
3. Case Study Group Discussions (50 pts each)
4. Major Paper
Maximum Points
Letter grades will be assigned as follows: A (1,900-2,000 pts); A- (1,800-1,899); B+ (1,7001,799); B (1,600-1,699); B- (1,540-1,599); C+(1,460-1,539); C (1,400-1,459); C- (1,3401,399); D (1,200-1,339); F (<1,200). Any student who fails to submit her/his major paper by the
due date will receive an F for the paper and final grade of C or lower for the course.
I strongly encourage each of you to meet with me to discuss your class participation, reaction
papers, and rough draft of major paper. I also welcome the opportunity to discuss with you any
of the topics, journal articles, issues you may be having with the course, e.g., comprehending any
of the material and/or how it relates to your career goals. I am readily available during office
hours or by appointment or without an appointment provided I am not occupied with other
Jan 11
Jan 18
Jan 25
Feb 1
Feb 8
Introductions, Overview of Course
The Culture of Psychology, Moral Intuition
Approaches to Ethics, Making Ethical Decisions,
Professional Codes, Laws, Ethics & Conflicts,
Ethics-Self Reflection Short Paper Due
Mentor-Mentee Relationships
Data Management, Ownership
Feb 15
Feb 22
Mar 1
Mar 8
Mar 15
Mar 22
Apr 5
Apr 12
Apr 19
Apr 26
Data Analyses, Interpretation, Fabrication & Falsification
Authorship & Publishing
Collaboration & Intellectual Property
Rough Draft of Major Paper on an Ethical/Professional Issue Due
Conflict of Interests and Commitments
Last day to withdraw from course
Informed Consent & Confidentiality
Peer Review
Teaching & Advising
Ethics-Self Reflection Revisited Short Paper Due
Competency & Public Statements
Completed Major Paper on an Ethical/Professional Issue Due