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Ethics Sessions Daily at JSM in Miami

1 July 2011 No Comment
Shelley Hurwitz, Committee on Professional Ethics Chair

    This summer at JSM in Miami, the Committee on Professional Ethics will present a line-up of sessions, with one happening each day of the week. On Monday at 8:30 a.m., we are sponsoring “Real-Life Ethical Dilemmas Encountered in the Practice of Statistics: They Happen Everywhere.” Arlene Ash will present her personal ethical dilemma related to the Bush-Gore election and eleventh-hour data. Katherine Halvorsen will discuss an ethical dilemma related to teaching undergraduate statistics that will ring true for many teachers. Jeff Witmer will discuss the ethical dilemmas that arise in writing and publishing statistical texts, getting a contract with a publisher, and preserving your rights. Finally, Don Bentley will discuss his ethical dilemmas related to statistics in industry and archaeology, highlighting problems that arise for many isolated statisticians due to their professional environment, and possible resolutions. Because of its high educational value, the Section on Statistical Education is cosponsoring this session.

    On Tuesday at 2:00 p.m., we are cosponsoring the panel “The New World of Data on Human Beings: Challenges and Solutions to Promoting Research While Ensuring Confidentiality.” The deluge of new types of data resulting from advances in cyberinfrastructure and new computational capacity and instrumentation has created this new world of data. Participants include Myron Gutmann, Stephen Fienberg, Ian Foster, Emmanuel Saez, Peter Elias, Julia Lane, and Lynda Carlson.

    On Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., the committee is sponsoring the panel “Improving the Ethical Guidelines.” Panelists include John Gardenier, Peter Imrey, Doug Samuelson, and ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein. It will be chaired by 2009 ASA President Sally Morton. The ASA’s Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice has a long history, with the first version published in 1983 and the current version accepted by the Board of Directors in 1999. Our profession has evolved over the last decade, with global collaboration, issues of privacy and confidentiality, demands for open publication of research data, and a new emphasis on ethics for professional certification. It may be time for another revision. We need your input. We want to hear your personal experiences, ideas, suggestions, and objections. Should it be shorter? Longer? Should we align it with the guidelines of other statistical organizations? Even if you feel the current version should not be tinkered with, we want to hear that too. Come to the session and join the discussion.

    On Thursday at 8:30 a.m., we are cosponsoring “Safety and Informed Consent in Human Rights Field Research: Challenges, Experiences, and Lessons Learned” with the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights. Jana Asher will describe threats to respondents and staff in human rights field research. Romesh Silva will describe experiences collecting sensitive human rights data in Amritsar, India, and Shana Swiss will summarize ethical challenges in human rights research.

    Register for JSM 2011 or view the online program.

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