PhD in Psychology Neuroscience and Data Science
Department of Nervous System and Behavior Sciences
Ovadia Daniela
5 Credits
Data Science in Biomedicine, Neuro Science and Psychology

Aim of the Course

Teaching ethics of research and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) at doctoral level in Universities is mandatory in most of European countries. Science communication and dissemination is part of the duties of the researchers and is essential for the public involvement of citizenship in the process of decision making when science is involved in policies and norms. We set up an experimental interdisciplinary course in Ethics of Research, RRI and science communication for doctoral students at University of Pavia since the academic year 2016-2017, following the model proposed by the EU Commission (undergraduate students are welcomed, but should apply by e-mail with a motivation letter and a short CV). The methodology includes frontal lessons, case discussions, participatory processes and active involvement of the students in the development of each lesson. We want to foster interaction and participation. Simulation of ethics assessment and social impact assessment of research procedures, ethics evaluation and interaction with the general public will also take place to allow the students to develop practical skills in the field.


Our teaching goals for ethics of research and science communication fit into the following four general categories: knowledge, skills, attitude and behaviors.

Knowledge about the responsible conduct of research will include the facts, guidelines, policies, data and other sources of information.

Among the core competencies that we want our students to acquire there are:

  • Knowledge of the history and development of ethical norms and charts in biomedicine and other fields.
  • Knowledge of, and sensitivity to, issues surrounding the responsible conduct of research and research misconduct.
  • Appreciation for accepted, normative scientific practices for conducting research.
  • Awareness of the grey areas and ambiguities of ethical issues, including differences between compliant and ethical behaviour in the conduct of research, or the range of acceptable and unacceptable practices.
  • Awareness that rules change over time and vary across disciplines or nations.
  • Information about the regulations, policies, statutes, and guidelines that govern the conduct of research.

Skills to promote ethical practice in science include specific proficiencies, for example:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Conflict resolution, arbitration and mediation, people management.
  • Impact assessment of research and innovation.

Attitudes and behaviors, defined by an acceptance of the value of acting in ways which foster responsible conduct. This area of the course will focus on:

  • Collection, use, and interpretation of research data.
  • Methods for reporting and reviewing research plans or findings.
  • Relationships among researchers with one another.
  • Relationships between researchers and those that will be affected by their research.
  • Means for responding to misunderstandings, disputes, or misconduct.
  • Options for promoting ethical conduct in research.
  • Attitude toward the funders, the citizens and the policy makers.

Basic skills in science communication and public involvement

  • Ethical decision-making, including recognizing problems, identifying and examining assumptions underlying practices, using analytical skills and strategies in addressing issues and problems, and exploring implications of different courses of action.
  • Basic knowledge of the models and research in science communication.
  • Tools for science communications.
  • The role of the scientists and the role of other professional figures.
  • Cognitive bias and heuristics in scientific decision making.
  • Public involvement of citizens in decision making.
  • Overview of participatory processes.
  • The role of media and how to interact with them as a scientist.

Date and Registration Form