Universiteit Leiden

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MOOC on the dilemmas of science

Scientists are regularly confronted with issues of integrity. You can learn all about the subject in a free online course.

The MOOC starts on 5 March on the online platform Coursera, and anyone who  is interested can take part. The online course aims to give a realistic image of science and to make people aware of issues of academic integrity.  Integrity in research is not always self-evident. There are regular cases of researchers who become compromised on the grounds of plagiarism or fraud, for example because they  are lax in their handling of research results. 

Food for discussion

The MOOC is taught by philosopher of science Bas Haring and science historian Frans van Lunteren. What is unique about this MOOC is that it is based completely on a film. In the film the main characters come up against various science dilemmas. When a specialist research group makes an important scientific discovery, all the researchers want to share in the honours, from the PhD candidate who made the discovery to the well-known professor who is head of the department. Just try sorting the situation out to everyone's satisfaction. The MOOC does not give ready-made solutions for these dilemmas  but it does provide food for thought. 

Making dilemmas tangible

Acording to Haring, that is exactly the intention. He uses the film 'On being a scientist' in the lecture series of the same name that he teaches with Van Lunteren. ‘You can promote integrity by discussing the written rules, but you can use film - and fiction in particular - to make the dilemmas more tangible, which can add a lot to the discussion.' 

No talking heads

‘I believe this MOOC is an ideal example of the new generation of MOOCs,' Marja Verstelle of Leiden University's Centre for Innovation commented. This institut was involved in developing this and other online courses. 'Some MOOCs are no more than talking heads - static images featuring scientists talking. This MOOC on the other hand makes use of visual material, which makes it much more lively and dynamic. A lot of work has gone into the design of the MOOC.'  

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