Your student gets a nasty email from a colleague insulting her work. You think your other colleague has plagiarized a postdoc in the group. A friend of yours at another institution has had problems with harassment and bullying. How do you react?
The culture of academia can be rife with uncomfortable situations, some more clearcut than others. We all began our research careers with expectations that both ourselves and our colleagues will behave ethically. Sometimes reality might be surprising. Your judgement might be very different than your colleague’s down the hall due to cultural differences, the different subfields you work in, or different experiences in your careers. Your own behavior might also evolve over the course of your career. What constituted an ethical breach when you were bright-eyed, 25-years-old and new to the field might be different from your assessment fifteen years down the line. While workplace violence training sessions/online forms mostly discuss the most extreme cases (colleagues threatening each other, bringing weapons to work, blatant sexual harassment), they hardly ever discuss situations falling in that vast “gray zone” of academic ethics. So how do we judge what’s ethical and what’s not? How should we react if we’re uncomfortable with a situation?
This post tackles these issues with the most interesting and useful of tools: crowdsourcing.
Below, we have collated 25 hypothetical scenarios that astronomers might face in their careers and we’re going to ask you to rank them on a continuous scale from 1 to 9 (1=bad, 9=good). Make sure to use of the whole scale 1-9. While several of the scenarios might be clearly very positive or negative, many will fall in the middle. You also have the optional opportunity to reflect on each scenario by submitting your thoughts; all responses to this survey are anonymous. The results of this survey will be collated and shared in another post in two weeks’ time.
Here’s a breakdown of the scale you should use:
Ethics and Diversity Poll
25 Questions, Submit Button at the Bottom