Ethics And Ethical Issues In The Mentees

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This chapter will introduce the reader to a wide variety of ethical problems and issues that can arise within the laboratory environment. Sometimes mentors refuse to give mentees proper credit for their contributions. Something like this probably happened when Millikan failed to give Fletcher credit for suggesting that he perform his experiment with oil drops. Sometimes a mentor may try to put excessive blame on his mentees when his research is found to be in error. A graduate student might “take the fall” for erroneous or dishonest research. A mentor may also use his or her position to obtain personal or even sexual favors from mentees. Mentors may require mentees to spend so much time working on the mentor’s research that the mentees have little time left for their own research. Many graduate students report abuses relating to work conditions and expectations (PSRCR 1992). One reason why mentors may exploit their mentees is that this relationship is unbalanced: mentors have more status, knowledge, expertise, training, and power than their mentees. Although one can easily see how mentors can take advantage of their position to suit their own needs or goals, the exploitation of mentees is unethical and should be avoided wherever possible. Exploitation violates science’s principle of mutual respect and destroys the trust essential for the mentor-mentee relationship. Without that trust, these important relationships deteriorate, and science suffers (Whitbeck 1995b). A second

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