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Essential Training

Ethical Challenges of Research Program

The purpose of this program is to discuss what the responsible conduct of research involves. The program is comprised of two parts: an introduction session offered every month and special topics offered every other month. The introductory session and special topics use a combination of small and large group discussions to foster effective communication and resolve problems.

Register for Introduction session now

Contemporary researchers face a variety of challenges, such as reduced federal funding, increasing publication pressures, controversies over conflicts of interest, high profile suspensions of clinical trials, and growing public scrutiny of research methods and outcomes. Success in research and professional development requires awareness of these challenges. It also requires skill in managing them and excellent communication. While professional codes of conduct and principles of responsible conduct of research offer some guidance, they may leave trainees unclear how to proceed in real world disputes or “gray areas.” To address these concerns, the UC San Diego Research Ethics Program and the Office of Postdoctoral Scholar Affairs have collaborated to bring UC San Diego postdoctoral scholars the Ethical Challenges of Research Program. The purpose of this program is to discuss what the responsible conduct of research involves.  The program is comprised of two parts: an introduction session offered every month and special topics offered every other month.  The introductory session and special topics use a combination of small and large group discussions to foster effective communication and resolve problems.

Completion of the introduction session with three additional special topic sessions (2 hours each) in the Ethical Challenges series OR the Scientific Ethics course offered through the campus Research Ethics Program ( will result in a certificate of training, which may be necessary for various postdoctoral funding sources, such as by NIH training and career development awards or NSF.

Postdoctoral scholars are strongly encouraged to complete the certification as part of their research training and education.

Introduction Session Schedule

Register:  ECR: Intro

Special Topic Session Schedule

  • Instructor: Camille Nebeker, EdD, MS, Research Ethics Program Director
  • Course offered from 11am-1 pm the second Wednesday of every other month.
  • All sessions will be held by Zoom unless otherwise indicated.

Authorship: Expectations and Collaborations

Science is inevitably a collaborative enterprise. As investigators tackle larger and more complex problems, research teams have grown increasingly inter-disciplinary, involving experts with varying backgrounds and sometimes-competing expectations. Collaborations involving multiple labs and/or institutions in different countries exacerbate the challenges of effective cooperation. Even collaborators within a given lab often confront thorny issues when it comes to assigning fair credit and authorship. This workshop aims to engage participants in identifying and analyzing problems in scientific collaboration. The ultimate end involves developing effective strategies for managing (or avoiding!) conflicts. This is an interactive workshop using case studies and participant experiences.

Date: Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Register: ECRST: Authorship

Text Recycling

Text recycling is the reuse of material from one's own documents that is not identified as a quotation in the new document, such as when researchers reuse descriptions of methods from their prior articles. Text recycling presents complicated ethical and legal challenges due to inconsistent and ambiguous terminology and a lack of consistent expectations about what constitutes acceptable practice. This presentation will provide an overview of work from the Text Recycling Research Project, including a new taxonomy of text recycling and best practices for researchers.

Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2023 – 12:00-2:00pm

Location: Design and Innovation Building #208

Speaker: Cary Moskovitz – Director, The Text Recycling Research Project

Register: Text Recycling

Successful Mentor/Mentee Relations

This interactive Ethical Challenges of Research session will focus on elements of a successful mentor-mentee relationship. The mentoring of a less experienced researcher is an important responsibility of all scientist. Mentors are one pathway for mentees to learn about the responsible conduct of research and associated ethical, legal and social implications. The success of a mentor/mentee partnership is dependent on awareness of expectations, transparent communications and recognition and management of power dynamics.

Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Register: ECRST: Mentoring

Creating Safe Research Spaces through an EDI Lens 

In this workshop, participants will learn how they can help to create safe research spaces through an equity, diversity and inclusion lens. During the two-hour session, we will: identify factors that reduce safety; discuss how EDI can play a role in the research space, both in design and practice; and, develop action plans for how we can facilitate changes and create safer research environments. 

Date: Wednesday, June 14, 2023 
Design & Innovation Building #208 

Presenters: Devon Tolliver, Madeleine Paley

Register: Safe Research Spaces & EDI 

Crucial Conversations: Talking to your PI

A successful science career may depend more on our interactions with others than it does on the quality of our science. Unfortunately, good science is all too often impeded by breakdowns in communication. When this happens, our emotions and reason can both sabotage our ability to find a successful resolution. This workshop will review several strategies to increase the chance that a crucial conversation will be a successful conversation.

Register: ECRST: Crucial Conversations

Objectivity & Overcoming Bias

Objectivity is central to scientific research. The use of appropriate controls, double blinded studies, and statistic methods all aim to eliminate biased or skewed results. Yet confirmation bias, blind spots, and gender, racial or ethnic biases may undermine the generalisability of even basic research. This workshop examines three case studies demonstrating how the sourcing of cell lines, enrollment in clinical trials, and the design of medical devices may undermine the objectivity of scientific research and contribute to health disparities. We will then consider best practice guidelines and new standards for investigators in areas such as medical research. Attendees are encouraged to play an active role in thinking about how to implement these strategies in their own research and training.

Register: ECRST: Objectivity

Diverse Populations Research

In this interactive Ethical Challenges of Research session participants will explore how to engage, recruit and retain diverse populations in research. Best practices for planning and conducting responsible and respectful research with diverse and under-represented populations will also be discussed. Participants will further develop an appreciation for cultivating authentic community collaborations.

Register: ECRST: Diverse Populations Research

Team Science

In this workshop, participants will learn about the ethical and pragmatic issues of Team Science. Through participation in this workshop and the group discussions you will learn “learn to learn” about emerging and future points of potential tension and conflict and be able to articulate the nature of Team Science relative to a scientific team. The specific ethical and pragmatic issues in credit for contributions in Team Science will also be discussed.

Register: ECRST: Team Science

Dates and location are subject to change.

Subscribe to the Postdoc listserv to be sent more information and how to register for these and all upcoming events. UCSD email address required for subscription.