In evaluating ethical dilemmas sometimes there are moral principles that lead to clear-cut courses of action. More often, however, there are several possible solutions each of which is morally acceptable. Our values and experiences, unique to each of us, will influence our views when considering ethical problems and identifying solutions. Since we must live with the decisions we make perhaps the most critical element of ethical decision making is being able to explain/justify the reasons behind our decisions. To help you in learning to do this, you will find a series of nine brief case studies in this section.:
Each brief case is based loosely on one or more real life incidents. Following each case references to articles about the real incidents on which these cases has been designed appear so you can learn more about the people and the incidents themselves.
You will find it most useful to discuss these case studies with your friends, other research group members, and/or your research advisor. If however, you are working alone, you can click on each question and view suggestions for possible answers that identify some of the many relevant issues.
The Case Study Collection is a database of ethics cases from the fields of science, engineering, the social sciences, and business.
Click on the following links to launch a search for cases in these subject areas
Responsible Conduct of Research Cases
Animal Research Subjects
Bias in Research
Conflict of Interest
Human Research Subjects
Mentors and Trainees
Research Ethics: Cases and Commentaries is an excellent collection of page-long case studies accompanied by expert commentary.
Engineering Ethics Cases
Bribery and Extortion
Codes of Ethics
We have also put together an annotated bibliography on using case studies for teaching engineering and research ethics, as well as how to write and assess cases for use in the classroom.
Criteria for Selecting Cases
The cases have been drawn from all over the web, especially from pages maintained by professional societies and academic institutions. All case studies included in this collection have been reviewed by CSEP staff, and include a short description of the case and a link to either a full text version of the case or to its location on a web site maintained by another ethics organization. The majority of the cases have come from the following sites:
The cases can be searched by keyword, subject, or discipline.
We also invite you to recommend or submit cases that you have developed to be included in the collection. For information about how to lead a case study discussion, click here to conduct a search for “case study method.” This will search the Library for materials on how to use case studies in an ethics course, workshop, or ethics module.