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Loui appointed to National Academies’ committee

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By Brad Petersen, ECE Illinois
May 21, 2007

  • Prof. Michael Louis was appointed to the committee responsible for developing the third edition of the National Academies' Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy's guide to responsible research.
  • The guide, titled "On Being a Scientist," is intended to be useful for all scientists, regardless of research discipline, setting, or type of research.
  • To date the second edition has sold 350,000 printed copies and is available for free on the Web.

ECE Professor Michael Loui was recently appointed to an ad hoc committee overseen by the National Academies’ Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. The ad hoc committee is responsible for developing the third edition of the Academies’ guide to responsible conduct of research, On Being a Scientist.

ECE Professor Michael Loui
ECE Professor Michael Loui

On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research is intended to be useful for all scientists, regardless of research discipline, setting, or type of research. It provides guidance to help researchers protect the scientific integrity of their work and the work of their peers. It also offers advice for addressing concerns researchers may have about the activities of others.

The ad hoc committee is still being formed and will include about a dozen participants. It appears Loui will be the only engineering representative on the committee.

“I’m really excited to be a part of this group and to work with these very distinguished people on a project that is national in scope and will presumably have as big an impact as the second edition has had,” Loui said.

To date the second edition has sold 350,000 printed copies and is available for free on the Web.

According to Loui, the guide tackles some important issues. “Why is it that science needs to be trustworthy? For example, we base a lot of important decisions in society on the results of scientific research. Science is funded by public money. It’s important that we use this money responsibly,” Loui explained.

Over the course of the next nine months, Loui and his colleagues will revise the second edition of the guide to address new issues including mentoring of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, intellectual property, commercial influences on research agendas, financial conflicts of interest, and internet and electronic publications.

Loui said the guide is especially useful for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers so they can learn about the ethical issues involved in research. “Ethics is not a matter of simply complying with the rules. It’s thinking through what is the right thing to do whether or not there are rules. In fact, many times there are no rules,” Loui said.

Previous editions of the guide were released in 1989 and 1995. The second edition of On Being a Scientist is available online at http://books.nap.edu/html/obas.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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