Monthly Archives: February 2016

Week 6 Citations

I have to start this blog with a quick comment on the photo of the monkey. Now I am all about animal rights and conservation of endangered species but I think this is a slippery slope…to give animals authorship. Should we start asking animals for consent when taking pictures of them in the wild? I know that’s far-fetched but I think this conflict is far-fetched as well. I am sure there is some kind of compromise that these two parties could reach instead of spending the money to pursue a lawsuit (money that could be spent helping to save this species of monkey)!

On the topic of citation, I found the material especially useful this week as I am working on my defense paper and have noticed a bunch of mistakes in the EndNote citation outputs on my reference list. The VT Library Citation Style List led me to VT’s American Medical Association web page which provided a really great PDF that has a bunch of solid examples and basic info:

I remember when I was an undergrad, I had such a hard time with citations. It was like the huge gray area in all group projects. No one was really sure if online citation generators were right…but it seemed like so much additional effort to actually generate your own citation (it’s not). EndNote makes life a lot easier, I only wish I was more open-minded to using it in my early undergraduate years. Although I do find EndNote to be a bit slow and I have heard great things about Mendeley, at this point it’s not worth switching two and a half months before my defense. I was surprised and disappointed to learn that I won’t have access to my EndNote library after I graduate unless I pay for it but I’m hoping that the company or hospital I work for will provide access to some kind of citation manager or perhaps I will make the switch to a free option.

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Week 5 Getting the RIO’s Perspective

I really liked this activity. It was very realistic and interactive which is the best way to learn. It was interesting to experience the perspective of the Research Integrity Officer although it may have been more beneficial for me to see through the eyes of a grad student. However, following the RIO through the process of taking the job and learning her responsibilities taught me a lot about the system of research integrity.

It seemed to me that the lady who was asked to be the RIO was really hesitant of taking the position, and she essentially ended up getting pushed into it. I empathized with her at her fear of basically being a “debbie-downer” in the research community at her institution. She feared that people were going to view her as someone to be feared and avoided which she didn’t like. Getting into the research community and talking about her job and being open and transparent about it was a great way to break the barrier and I think our own institution could benefit from someone doing this because students are probably less intimidated to come forward if they feel like they know the RIO.

Another situation that stuck out to me was that the exiting RIO didn’t even have any imparting information, knowledge, or advice to offer her. He didn’t even really know what he was doing. It seemed like the job description was very vague and involved a lot of gray area. This showed what a systemic issue research and academic integrity truly is because the overseer’s job had so many inherent issues. It also showed how a motivated, organized, and ethical individual can truly make a difference in this position and how others (graduate students, post-doc students, PIs) can benefit and be SAFER in their academic endeavors with a responsible person guiding them. However, it’s scary to think about the vulnerability of the research community as a whole if someone else got the job of RIO. Someone who felt pressured to just go with the flow and avoided upsetting anyone.

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Week 4 Communicating Honor Codes

his week’s reading kind of emphasized part of the problem I see with honor/ethics guidelines. There is no denying that the Graduate Honor Code is absolutely necessary to uphold academic integrity however I think this topic is such a gray area partly because the content and length of these documents is so daunting and intimidating. Let’s face it…this stuff isn’t fun to think about. It’s scary! While I do agree it’s important to understand the definitions and consequences of plagiarism, cheating, falsification, and academic sabotage, I wish there was a more concise and efficient way to communicate this important matter to students, especially undergraduate students. In general, I think students are just ignorant to these issues. If they could be informed in a quicker way, I think everyone would benefit. Professors always skim over the Honor Code section of their syllabus during the first class. With such severe consequences, I think the Honor Code deserves a little more time…especially how it might be pertinent to that specific class. It’s kind of just assumed that everyone knows what it entails. Perhaps if there was more interactive and engaging method to educate students about their school’s honor code. Maybe a hands on ethics class required at orientation for undergraduate students where students got to interact with each other in different scenarios of academic integrity. Or weekly emails could contain short and realistic case studies  or infographics to educate students on these issues, then they would be in a position to be more academically responsible!

I found a few infographics on pinterest that were fun and show how teaching this stuff can be done in ways other than just a wordy document. I feel like these could be modified to communicate pretty much anything about honor codes.

plagiarism compass

research paper


I really liked the infographic in this article:

This article also led me to another article that discussed how plagiarism among college students is the highest its ever been. I think its going to be very important moving forward to find effective ways to disseminate information regarding academic integrity.

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Ethics: A Slippery Slope that Affects the Public

The Photoshop alterations in the Syrian Conflict photo emphasize how ethics can be a slippery slope. I find it hard to believe that a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist was fired for such a seemingly harmless alteration. However, if the news agency allowed this minor offense to slide, they would have set a precedent for future journalists to make the same, if not worse, alterations which could misrepresent world events. This consequence would obviously be an ethical dilemma.

slippery slope - caution



We recently discussed in our HNFE graduate seminar the potential consequences of falsifying data in research studies. In the field of dietetics, we are ethically responsible to use evidence-based nutrition guidelines in nutrition counseling. It’s cool (and scary at the same time) to think about how research studies can change the way health professionals care for their patients. In rare cases, the influences of research studies are not so positive.

For example, there was a study by a British doctor, Andrew Wakefield that reported links between autism and a childhood vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella. This caused vaccination rates to drop drastically. However, it was later discovered that Wakefield altered the medical history of his participants; there was no link between autism and the vaccine. As such, Measles cases increased drastically in the following years. Full story here:

It’s mind-boggling to me how the falsification of data can negatively impact public health on such a large scale. It is our responsibility as researchers to follow not only our personal moral codes, but also our professional code of ethics, to ensure the safety of the public at large.

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