Development and Ethics in the Atmospheric Sciences


Development and Ethics in the Atmospheric Sciences

Fall Semester, 2019 

Tuesday, 3:05 PM – 4:20 PM, 4 Deike Building


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. (8/27) Introduction — What is this course all about?
  2. (9/3) Research, ethics, and society*
  3. (9/10) Authorship*
  4. (9/17) Collaborative research*
  5. (10/1) Data management*
  6. (10/15) Mentor and trainee responsibilities*
  7. (10/22) Peer review*
  8. (10/29) Research misconduct* and plagiarism*
  9. (11/12) Diversity in the sciences
  10. (11/19) Wrapping it up

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

I have invited a guest speaker for most of the classes. This speaker will introduce the topic in the first 30–40 minutes.  After that, discussion leaders (typically two students) should be prepared to lead a discussion that incorporates material looked at prior to the meeting and pertaining to the guest speaker's talk. The objective is to develop mature, interesting, and occasionally provocative discussions. Here are some guidelines for the discussion leaders:

  • PowerPoint presentations are strongly discouraged.
  • Keep canned comments to a minimum.
    • Prepare a number of activities to keep discussion going after the initial round of questions. Short case studies are useful to encourage the class to think through an abstract issue in a practical context. Staged debates are good at stimulating discussion. Another good technique is to ask the class a question, poll the results, and then discuss the differences in people’s answers.
    • Avoid spending too much time discussing facts, laws, and regulations. The primary purpose of this class is not to consider cutting-edge technological developments, nor to learn how to plot a safe course through intellectual property laws and institutional review boards. Scientists are uniquely positioned to influence the development of our culture; this class is designed to encourage junior scientists to consider this role carefully. Scientists often appear more comfortable talking about technical issues than about the social implications of their work, but it is imperative that scientists train themselves to engage their fellow citizens in serious public policy debates. 

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 using access account

Select:   Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) - Basic (it takes a little effort to navigate there, but you can eventually get to where you need to get by selecting "I need to take RCR training to satisfy SARI@PSU training requirements, to satisfy a grant requirement, or for professional improvements" when asked)

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.