Annual First-Year Ethics Retreat Overview

Incoming Ph.D. students in the biomedical programs at Duke University School of Medicine begin their research careers with a weekend retreat discussing the principles of responsible conduct in research. This course provides a venue not so much for teaching "the right answers," but more as a means to raise awareness of ethical issues through discussion.
The course is a requirement for graduation and confers 12 hours of Responsible Conduct in Research credit. Students who cannot take the course in their first year will be wait-listed for subsequent years. Slots are guaranteed only for first year graduate students in programs in the School of Medicine including interdisciplinary programs.


Dr. David Sherwood, lecturing at a prior Beaufort Retreat

Sessions alternate between formal lectures and informal small group discussions. Small groups consist of approximately eight to ten incoming students, one faculty member and one graduate student TA. Small group sessions explore in more depth topics introduced in the larger forum.

Session topics from previous years include:

  • Scientific Integrity
  • “Let’s Get Ethical”
  • Professional Obligations of a Scientist
  • Ethical Research on Animals
  • Publication & Authorship/Allocation of Credit and Authorship
  • Data Acquisition & Management/Image Manipulation: Avoiding Misconduct
  • Handling of Misconduct Allegations at Duke
  • Graduate School 101

There are about ten topics covered over the course of the weekend.

Evaluations and Course Credit 
Evaluation of the course is required in order to receive course credit in the form of an anonymous evaluation survey.