How Should Undergraduates Acknowledge Research Aid


A scenario that covers ethical issues that arise when people give helpful information for a project but do not contribute significantly.


Two aero/astro undergraduates, Peggy and Sean, have a project to measure the temperature on a simulated turbine blade in Professor Waitz's new shock tube. The object of their experiment is to investigate the effectiveness of Professor Kerrebrock's idea for cooling turbine blades. They are having difficulty figuring out how to measure the temperature.

While eating dinner in the cafeteria, they talk to a graduate student, Dana, from the Plasma Physics Lab (they forget to get her last name), who tells them about a new semiconductor temperature probe she has just read about in the Journal of New Instrumentation.

Several days later, Peggy and Sean find the article and contact the manufacturer to buy a probe. This turns out to be the crux of the success of their project. Later, Peggy and Sean write an AIAA paper, which wins the national competition. They each receive a $1000 award.

What should Peggy and Sean do regarding the help and information they received?


Caroline Whitbeck introduced methods and modules for discussing numerous issues in responsible conduct of research at a Sigma Xi Forum in 2000. Partial funding for the development of this material came from an NIH grant.

You can find the entire sequence on the OEC at Scenarios for Ethics Modules in the Responsible Conduct of Research. Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society's code that is referred to in an item. If you have suggestions for updates, please contact the OEC.

Caroline Whitbeck. . How Should Undergraduates Acknowledge Research Aid. Online Ethics Center. DOI: