Some Sources for Research Ethics Cases in the Sciences and Engineering

April 2005      

Compiled by Karen Muskavitch, Boston College (


American Anthropological Association, Handbook on Ethical Issues in Anthropology, edited by Joan Cassell and Sue-Ellen Jacobs.

Bebeau, Muriel, et al.  Moral Reasoning in Scientific Research, Cases for Teaching and Assessment. The Poynter Center, Indiana University.  Bloomington, IN.  1995.

Bioethics Program at Iowa State University, Bioethics Outreach, Case Studies for the Classroom. Three very thoroughly documented cases, plus other materials. 

Hinman, Lawrence M. Ethics Updates A site with case studies and much more. 

NAS, NAE and IOM, On Being a Scientist, Responsible Conduct in Research, Second Edition.  National Academy Press, Washington, DC. 1995 


Office of the Vice President for Research and the Graduate School, University of Minnesota, Teaching Ethics for Research, Scholarship, and Practice, Look under "Instructional Materials, Format, Case Studies" or search by topic.

Some books devoted to a single case:

Djerassi, Carl, Cantor's Dilemma.  Viking Pengiun. 1991.

Jones, James H., Bad Blood, The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Free Press, New York. 1993.

Kevles, Daniel J., The Baltimore Case, A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character.  W.W. Norton, New York. 1998. (Also see review of this book by C.K. Gunsalus in New England Journal of Medicine, 340:242, Jan 21, 1999)

A few resources on teaching with cases:

 Bulger, Ruth Ellen, Elizabeth Heitman, and Stanley Joel Reiser.  The Ethical Dimensions of the Bioogical and Health Sciences, 2nd edition.  Cambridge University Press. 2002.  Information on using cases appears at the end of the text., Teaching with Cases. Several essays and lists of pointers. 

North Carolina State University, Research Ethics Modules, Module 1 Research Ethics: An Introduction. Also see commentary by Nell Kriesberg that follows Tom Regan's essay. 

Pimple, Kenneth D. Using Small Group Assignments in Teaching Research Ethics - a short essay with ideas on how to organize small group discussions.  

Pimple, Kenneth D. Using Case Studies in Teaching Research Ethics - a short essay on how to use case studies and different types of cases.  

Poynter Center for the Study of American Institutions, Indiana University, Bloomington. Resources for Teaching Research Ethics -  information and links useful to those teaching research ethics. 

RCR Education Consortium, Online Resource for RCR Instructors. Select "Resources" and under "Tools, Discussion, Case Studies" you will find a short guide to leading the discussion of a case study as well as how to analyze a case.

St. Louis University, Making Choices/Asking Questions,  A two-video set that addresses teaching business ethics by applying the case-study method has a business school emphasis but the basic concepts are the same for all of us.  Available for $40. 

Swazey, Judith and Stephanie Bird. Teaching and Learning Research Ethics in Research Ethics, A Reader, Elliott, Deni and Judy E. Stern