Development and Ethics in the Atmospheric Sciences



Development and Ethics in the Atmospheric Sciences

Fall Semester, 2020 


Tuesday, 3:05 PM – 4:20 PM, Zoom ( (Links to an external site.))


Prof. Paul Markowski, 520 Walker, email:, phone (work): 865-9736, web:

Course Objectives

METEO 591 was created, in part, to satisfy the Graduate School Scholarship and Research Integrity (SARI) program requirement (, which itself was motivated by a requirement of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Health (NIH) that all institutions receiving NSF or NIH funding require a Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course for their graduate students.  METEO 591 must include a minimum of five hours of discussion on RCR topics relevant to the atmospheric sciences, including, but not limited to, (i) acquisition, management, sharing, and ownership of data, (ii) publication practices and responsible authorship, (iii) conflict-of-interest and commitment, (iv) research misconduct, (v) peer review, (vi) mentor/trainee responsibilities, and (vii) collaborative science.

Course Organization and Expectations

Week/ Topic

  1. (8/25) Introduction — What is this course all about? 
  2. (9/1) Research, ethics, and society*
  3. (9/8) Mentor and trainee responsibilities*
  4. (9/15) Authorship*
  5. (9/22) Collaborative research*
  6. (9/29) Data management* 
  7. (10/6) Peer review*
  8. (10/13) Research misconduct* and plagiarism* 
  9. (10/20) Diversity in the sciences 
  10. (10/27) Skills all researchers need, wrap-up

 * indicates that a corresponding module with the same title is a part of the CITI training  

There will usually be reading material assigned prior to each class.  Your weekly homework assignment will be to read any assigned material and come to class with at least one provocative question to spur classroom discussion

A passing grade of satisfactory (R) is earned by the following:

  • Participate as a discussion leader in one of the class meetings
  • Participate in the discussions led by others
  • Completion of each Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Physical Science Responsible Conduct of Research course module ( to an external site.)), having earned a grade of at least 80% on the quiz associated with each module (there are 7 required modules, plus an 8th elective module that must be completed by the end of the semester)
    • Log in:     Log in to CITI ("University Park, Commonwealth, and other non-Hershey personnel") using access account
    • Select:   "View Courses" button beside "Pennsylvania State University," then start the "Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) - Basic" course (you might be asked to update information about yourself before seeing this screen, such as your graduate degree being sought, department name, etc.)
    • Complete:   CITI RCR Course with a grade of at least 80% (though there is no reason why one cannot work a bit harder to a grade of 100%)
    • Print:   Course Completion Report (turn in to Karen Corl when finished) 

Failing to earn a satisfactory grade of R results in a student being assigned an unsatisfactory grade and and having to retake the course the following year. 

Week-By-Week Details 

Week 1: Introduction – What is this course all about? (How to Survive Graduate School, Responsible Conduct in Research; Integrity in Practice; Integrity in Training; Integrity in Learning)

  • Markowski's tips for graduate school success
  • Importance of research advisors, mentors, and student committees
  • Prioritizing time: classes, assistantship, and research obligations


Additional resources:

Week 2: Research, Ethics, and Society (Social Responsibility)


Read the above essay plus the three additional essays linked to in the piece above (links replicated below).

Other Stuff You Might Be Interested In:

Complete the following CITI course module:  Research, Ethics, and Society 

Week 3: Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities


Additional resources:

 (Links to an external site.)

Topics for discussion:

  • Finding an advisor
  • Role and importance of masters and doctoral committees
  • Rights/responsibilities of mentors?  Rights/responsibilities of graduate students?
  • Handling academic integrity issues as a TA
  • How to deal with perceived inequities and conflict resolution
  • How to deal with apparent misconduct/Whistle-blowing
  • Sexual harassment and other examples of power differentials
  • The challenges of collaborative research

Complete the following CITI course moduleMentoring 

Week 4: Authorship (Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship)


 Optional readings and additional resources:

Topics for discussion:

  • Papers and proposals – Conflict of interest and commitment?  How much time to spend on them?
  • Authorship – “not discussed in polite company”
  • Authorship – merits of alternative methods to determine authorship
  • Who should and should not be a co-author?
  • Acknowledgment of those who helped
  • Forgetting the source of an idea

Complete the following CITI course module: Authorship  

Week 5: Collaborative Research (Working within a Team)


U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity: (Links to an external site.)

Topics for discussion:

  • Benefits and liabilities of collaborative research?
  • What to do if interactions become strained?

Rules to live by:

  • Don’t steal
  • Don’t plagiarize
  • Don’t take credit for the work of others
  • Don’t use others’ ideas without giving credit
  • Don’t obfuscate method descriptions by using more advanced mathematics than is required or by leaving out steps
  • Don’t dissuade others from tackling a task by describing problems you could yourself solve as “hard”
  • Don’t allow situations to occur in which others must do yourwork for the greater good
  • Don’t allow your schedule to drift so that you habitually hand off urgent projects to your collaborators at the start of the weekend
  • Don’t claim as publicly available any data or program for which documentation is insufficient to allow others easy use withoutyour help.
  • Don’t abuse watchdog rights (FOIA) to obtain confidential information (e.g. from proposals or reviews)

Complete the following CITI course module: Collaborative Research 

Week 6: Data Management (Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Comments) 


Topics for discussion:

  • Issues with data: ownership; stewardship; sharing; integrity; accuracy
  • Using other’s data in one’s own research; extracting data from other’s works for use in one’s own research; referencing the work of other’s data in one’s own works.
  • But what if detractors use your data to constantly harass you?

Complete the following CITI course module: Data Management 

Week 7: Peer Review


 Topics for discussion:

  • Does peer review perpetuate “safe” science or discourage novelty?
  • Do reviewers get ideas from the proposals they review?

Complete the following CITI course module: Peer Review 

Week 8: Research Misconduct (Fabrication, Falsification and Plagiarism; Integrity in Practice; Integrity in Training; Integrity in Learning; Whistle-blowing) 


Additional resources:

Topics for discussion:

  • Fabrication, Falsification, and Plagiarism (FFP) – Define
  • FFP – Why does it happen?
  • Course ethics: homework solutions, exams, course papers
  • Plagiarism, including borderline cases of misconduct, e.g., copying from others? Are the statements really yours? Citing a reference you didn’t read yourself?  Self-plagiarizing?  Breaking articles up into “least publishable units” to generate more publications?

Complete the following CITI course modules: Research MisconductPlagiarism 

Week 9: Diversity in the Sciences: Challenges Facing Women, Minorities, and International Students; Challenges Facing Postdoctoral Scholars


Additional resources:

Topics for discussion:

  • Diversity in the sciences – why is it important?
  • Gender discrimination in the sciences
  • Challenges facing women in the tenure process
  • African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans in the sciences
  • Challenges facing international scholars in the U.S.
  • Creating a learning environment good for all: gender issues; racial issues; political issues; personality issues; a person’s physical space 

Week 10: Skills and Experiences that all Researchers Need


Critical skills to effectively move beyond graduate school:

  • Know your stuff and as wide a context for it as possible
  • Become an expert computer programmer
  • Become an expert writer (articles and proposals)
  • Become an expert speaker (instruction and presenting research results)
  • Become an expert on engaging other scientists (via email, seminars, and conferences)

What does the future hold?:

  • Career tracks for M.S./Ph.D. students
  • Changing responsibilities as successes take you to management

 Writing Resources: