New “Beyond Rankings” webinar: How can academic ethics reshape the structure of the university?

7 June 2024

Beyond Ranking: From Ghost Authors to AI

How can academic ethics reshape the structure of the university?

June 17, 10:00 am CET
  • Speaker
    Dr. Walker Trimble
    Senior Expert in Research
    and Higher Education Reform
  • Moderator
    Dr. Alexandra Borissova Saleh
    Senior Expert in Science Communication,
    E-Quadrat Science & Education
While it’s no surprise that recent data falsification scandals such as that of a Harvard professor or a Stanford president get more attention, academic ethics is not just about what goes on in the lab. As universities and national educational systems compete for global leadership in science, what were once personal decisions suddenly get magnified to international levels. Recent examples of authorship peddling and massive predatory publication have shown that it’s more than just a question of a few bad apples. Misplaced incentives driven by the need to succeed in the rankings might be playing a role in cases that can be catastrophic for a university’s reputation.

This is why we decided to dedicate our 4th Beyond Rankings webinar to research ethics. Our speaker will be Dr Walker Trimble, Senior Expert at E-Quadrat and a philosopher who deals with the intersection between ethics and scientific practice.

During the webinar, we will cover the following points as part of the discussion and cordially invite you to join:

  • How recent scandals in research and publication ethics illustrate the strategic weaknesses of national science policies
  • How technology is transforming publication ethics
  • How to integrate ethics procedures into the general institutional structure of the university
  • How the whole culture of the university can be employed to develop specific procedures for resolving conflicts in research and publication ethics
  • How the use of AI and big data in research reveals the fundamentally ethical nature of all knowledge and information

This session will examine how technology has magnified ethical issues and why ethics needs to be integrated into the university’s general strategy for research, academic life, and science communication. The discussion will include academic freedom and public oversight as well as the role the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) plays in resolving disputes at the academic journal level, and also what it means for COPE to be opening its membership to universities.

Despite being the principal engines of scientific development, universities as institutions have often been passive agents in determining how their vast resources of intellectual property and data are used. We will explore the implications of big data and AI on academic practices, providing an overview of how these technologies are reshaping the ethical landscape of higher education.

We will also address the intersection of ethics and university rankings, surveying recent abuses in publication ethics in regions that seek to enter the top tiers of science—Central Asia and the Middle East. These cases highlight the need to design comprehensive ethics policies that can ingrain ethical cultures into new and ambitious HE reforms. We will also discuss the unique resources universities have in their social science and humanities departments to discover, discuss, and develop insights into present and future ethical applications. A university which can incorporate a healthy culture of investigation into its institutional culture will better be able to deal with both present and future challenges.

As the philosopher of information Luciano Floridi notes, no information is ever truly 'raw’— data is always collected and analysed with a specific end in mind. This webinar will challenge participants to consider the broader roots of knowledge and innovation, emphasising the need for universities to adopt sustainable and ethically sound policies.

As usual, this webinar will be moderated by Dr. Alexandra Borissova Saleh, E-Quadrat’s senior expert in science communication and marketing. Join us!

June 17, 10:00 am CET