Peer pressure, or, I thought I was out of high school!

Hello everyone!

I am delighted with the responses to the Ethicist posts—both on the site and to me personally. Thanks for your energy and insights.

An Academy member sent me a very interesting scenario he has been facing that should resonate with many, not only in our field but with those following trends in academe as a whole. I have experienced a version of it myself just this semester. Consider this:

For the past 10 years, you’ve taught a required course you like. You’re effective at teaching this course, too: in the first several years, your course evaluations were very high and other student feedback indicated that they loved your course. However, although you manage the course in essentially the same way as you have since the beginning, and your teaching style has not changed dramatically for the worse, your course evaluations have become not so great. The reason behind this is that your students now evaluate your course’s workload as much too heavy, especially in relation to others who teach the course. When you first were teaching the course and got great evaluations, over 90% of students evaluated your course’s workload as “appropriate.” Over time, you now earn that evaluation metric from only 20% of students.

For students considering taking your course, the word on the street is that you are a very difficult instructor and your course carries an inappropriately rough workload. So, along with decreasing student evaluation numbers, you’re also facing fewer students in your section and resentful colleagues, all in the context of a dramatically increased institutional focus on student retention. You consider your assignment load completely appropriate for the course material.

As you puzzled over your change in evaluation fortunes, you reviewed syllabi from colleagues who also teach this course and found out that, based on similar student feedback, they had been gradually decreasing the workload in their courses. It appears that other sections of this course now require only a group presentation (without a corresponding written assignment) and one multiple choice exam at the end of the course. Indeed, you do have the heaviest workload now out of anyone teaching that course, although there is nothing out of the ordinary in your assignment mix: multiple writing assignments, group written project, and two essay/short answer exams.

What do you do?

Continue reading “Peer pressure, or, I thought I was out of high school!”

Double-Blind Review in the Age of Google and PowerPoint

Blog No. 2011-03 (November 1, 2011)

Key Insight:  Double-blind peer review is one of the academy’s most cherished principles.   Its purpose is to ensure that our scholarly journals make decisions to accept or reject manuscripts based solely on the quality, fit and contribution of the paper. Double-blind review, however, has costs as well as benefits, and may be more fiction than fact in today’s world of Google and PowerPoint.

AOM Videos on “Ethics in Research & Publication”

The Ethics Education Committee of the Academy of Management has developed a series of eight videos of journal editors talking about ethical issues involving research and publication. The videos are posted on AOM’s YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/academyofmanagement.

Please share the videos with individuals you think would be interested in viewing them.  The videos are particularly useful for PhD students and junior faculty who are starting into the research process, but — even for old-timers like me — it was very instructional to watch the videos. Highly recommended! Kudos to Susan Madsen and Jim Davis for heading up this project, and to all the journal editors who participated.

The increase of retractions

Eek, my first post! Not much of a post, more of a share…

I came across this article and thought it was particularly interesting. It attempts to analyse why papers being withdrawn are on the increase, suggesting an increase in the awareness of misconduct rather than an increase in the misconduct itself.

Continue reading “The increase of retractions”

Ethical Issues in Professional Life: Codes and Conflicts of Interest

Blog No. 2011-01 (October 1, 2011)

What’s My Domain?  Everything Else

Welcome again to the ethics blog, this time from your journalist on “professional life” issues.  Compared to research or teaching, it may be more difficult to define this sphere of ethical issues.

For me, research evokes a process of reading, analyses, writing, presenting, submitting to editors (and in my case, often re-submitting after editorial rejection) and publishing pieces for a variety of outlets: journals, books, book chapters, working papers, policy reports, case studies and other scholarly purposes.  The ethical issues this process raises are myriad, but the process has an intuition that many can grasp pretty easily.

Continue reading “Ethical Issues in Professional Life: Codes and Conflicts of Interest”

Teaching & ethics: A critical incident

I had the most interesting event happen a couple of days ago and I wanted to share it on this blog with the Academy community. One of my strategy students came to my office the morning after they had all handed in an assignment—a case analysis practicing basic tools such as Five Forces and SWOT. “Scott” [not his real name] told me to remove the back page of his analysis because he had largely filled it in during our class discussion, and as such it should not be evaluated as homework completed. Scott said, “I had to come see you. I fretted [he actually used that word] about it all night.” I had already graded the assignment, and had no idea he had not filled it all out as homework.

 

The Teaching ETHICIST: Beyond course content

I am delighted to engage the Academy community in discussion about the myriad ways ethics may be manifested in our teaching responsibilities. While I have a long list of topics I am eager to put out in this blog column for your input, let me echo Lorraine Eden’s introductory invitation for you, the Academy member, to send me topics you’d like to see in discussion.

What do the following have in common?

  • Grading student work fairly and consistently
  • Taking into account for final grades some ‘outlier’ student life experience or individual student need, such as a mid-semester baby birth or care of a sick parent or sibling
  • Discovering that a student has disclosed private or inappropriate information to others in an online discussion
  • Considering extreme consequences of students’ earning failing grades, such as with international students being deported if they fail a course

 

Scientists Behaving Badly: Insights from the Fraud Triangle

Blog No. 2011-02 (July 27, 2011)

Key Insight: Occasionally, journal editors are confronted with evidence that authors have engaged in unethical behaviors such as plagiarism, multiple submissions or fabricating data. What causes scientists to behave badly? I argue that the fraud triangle can provide useful insights into the pressures that lead scholars to engage in research fraud.

Continue reading “Scientists Behaving Badly: Insights from the Fraud Triangle”

Welcome to THE ETHICIST!

Blog No. 2011-01 (July 13, 2011)

Welcome, AOM members, to the first posting on THE ETHICIST, a new blog launched under the STRATEGIC DOING Initiative of the Academy of Management; the blog will focus on ethical issues that face AOM members.  THE ETHICIST is sponsored by the AOM Ethics Education Committee; its co-chairs are James Davis (Notre Dame) and Susan Madsen (Utah Valley).

THE ETHICIST, coordinated by Lorraine Eden, will have three regular columnists:

Research: Lorraine Eden – Texas A&M – leden@tamu.edu
Teaching: Kathy Lund Dean – Idaho State –  lundkath@isu.edu
Professional Life: Paul Vaaler – Minnesota –  vaal0001@umn.edu

One article per month will be written by each columnist, in rotation, starting with Research in August 2011, followed by Teaching, and Professional Life. Each columnist will be assisted by an advisory panel of four-to-six individuals chosen by the columnist. The AOM Ethics Committee and Ethics Education Committee will also be members of each advisory panel.  The purpose of the advisory panels will be to suggest topics and provide comments on drafts of articles before publication on
THE ETHICIST website.

THE ETHICIST will communicate the Academy’s commitment to ethical conduct as a priority of the organization, and raise awareness about everyday ethical issues and ethics in the context of the Academy and the profession. It will also provide a location for experts to respond to members’ questions and concerns about ethics.

THE ETHICIST will reside as a blog on AOM Connect. The blog format allows for comments to be posted by any member of the Academy, and we hope that a dialogue on ethical issues will result from this interaction. Popular blog posts on THE ETHICIST may also appear in the AOM Newsletter.

Any member of the Academy of Management may suggest a topic for THE ETHICIST by sending an email to the coordinator and/or the columnists; please put the words THE ETHICIST in the subject line of your email. General questions
should be addressed to the coordinator.

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