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University of Toronto, Department of Psychology

Psy 3001 2011: Professional Psychology - Research Ethics and Survival Skills

Instructor: Sara J. Shettleworth

Office: Sidney Smith Hall 4054, Telephone: 416-978-7819, email:
Office hours: drop in or by appointment (I am usually around in the afternoon)

The first part of this course deals with ethical conduct in research, including treatment of human and nonhuman subjects, intellectual property, ethical treatment of data, what constitutes scientific misconduct and how to handle suspected cases of it. The “survival skills” covered in the second part of the course include effective presentations (including preparation for MA Day); applying for post docs, academic and non academic jobs, and grants; publishing and reviewing; equity in science. Members of the Department and others with expertise in particular areas (for example, journal editors, members of granting councils, people fresh from the job market) will contribute.

Course requirements: This is a pass/fail course. Passing it is a requirement of the Ph D program.

To pass you need to do the following.

1. Come to all classes and participate in them. There is relatively little reading but for the course to work well and for everyone to get as much as possible out of it, please do the readings carefully and think about the issues they raise. Many of them are controversial, or at least there are several reasonable points of view. To facilitate discussions, there will often be a specific topic or question posed along with the list of required readings. Even when you decide not to write about a particular one (see next item), you should decide what you think about it and come prepared to contribute.

2. Submit an acceptable 400-500 word (1-2 page) reaction paper on at least 5 out of the 7 weeks when a topic is posted on the website. Each of these will deal with some issue in the readings for the day on which it is to be handed in. A hard copy is to be submitted at the beginning of the class.

3. Submit a 1500-2000-word final essay by Monday, April 11, 2011 (one week after the last class). This should be in the form of a review and personal reflection on a novel about life in science, a biography or autobiography of a social or life scientist, or a book about an episode of scientific misconduct or the like. A list of suggested books is provided on the "final essay" page of this site; it may be expanded from time to time. You may also suggest your own for my approval. The point of this assignment – like many other parts of the course – is to encourage you to think outside the box of your own research interests about some of the broader issues surrounding becoming a scientist and a psychologist in the 21st century.

Website and readings: There is a course website:
The required readings and the assignments for each week will be posted here. All members of the course will receive a copy of On Being a Scientist (3rd edition), which we will be using throughout. Most of the readings will be provided as pdfs or links to websites. In the second half of the course there will also be readings from the The Compleat Academic (J.M. Darley et al. editors, APA, 2003), which you are encouraged to buy. Copies are available in the bookstore.

Email policy.  Short email queries will generally be answered within 24 hours on weekdays, within a couple of days on weekends. Longer discussions of issues raised by the readings should be reserved for class or a personal appointment. So your messages will not be treated as spam you should use a U of T e-address that includes your name and head your message with a specific mention of the course.

Printing policy: Please submit anything to be marked in hard copy, double spaced to give me room to write comments, but printed on both sides of the paper to save trees.  For tips on double sided printing, see this advice from the UTBiology Environment Action Team. Notwithstanding this paper-saving policy, please print out the readings and bring the hard copies to class. Laptops (i.e. for reading pdfs) will not be welcome in the seminar.

Dates, topics, and guests. Readings and assignments on Pages 2 and 3 of this site.

  1. January 10 . Introduction to the course

  2. January 17. Scientific ethics 1. Honor and integrity, values in science, ownership of data

  3. January 24 . Scientific ethics 2. The scientist and the data: Fabrication, falsification and more subtle forms of dishonesty.

Neuroethics. Guest: Mary Pat McAndrews, Toronto Western Hospital and U of T Psych

  1. January 31 . Ethical treatment of human subjects

Guest:       Dean Sharpe (U of T research ethics officer)            

  1. February 7 . Ethical treatment of non human subjects

Guest:       Steve Joordens (Psychology, UTSC)      

  1. February 14. Giving effective presentations (preparation for MA day)

Science and the media. Guests: Kelly Connelly, Senior Media Officer, Rotman Research Institute; Hanah Chapman, Psych grad student


  1. February 28. Publishing 1. The ethics of authorship: conflict of interest, collaboration, responsibility of coauthors on big projects.

Guest: Kevin Dunbar (Psych, UTSC) on scientists’ behavior, a psychologist’s view

Thursday, March 3. MA DAY. Everyone should plan to attend.

  1. March 7. Research strategy and applying for grants; industrial support of research

Guests: Poppy Lockwood, Susanne Ferber (Psych, St George), Robert Gerlai (Psych, UTM), TBA

9. March 14. Publishing 2:  Where and how to publish; the ethics of reviewing

Guests: Jay Pratt and Jennifer Tackett (Psychology St George)      

  1. March 21 . Equity in science.

Professional licensing in psychology. Guest: Brian Levine (Rotman Research Institute and U of T Psych)

11. March 28. Life after grad school 1. Nonacademic jobs

Guests: Don McCreary (Defence R&D Canada), Christian Mueller (marketing research), Kim Edelstein (Ontario Cancer Institute)

12. April 4. Life after grad school 2: Getting a job and being a faculty member.

Guests: Nick Rule (Psychology, St George), Raymond Mar (York), other (s) TBA