compliance. Checking the appropriate boxes on forms may involve settling for the minimum. What is the bigger picture? Why is the policy there in the first place? To borrow from Greg Koski, formerly with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) heading the Office of Human Research Protections, how can we foster a culture of conscience rather than a culture of compliance?


The Ethics breakout session organized its discussion around what one might put in a primer on how to undertake international research collaborations.

Individual participants made a number of points during the discussion. This is a non-exhaustive list, and is not intended to represent consensus views of the workshop or the breakout session:


  • Ethics is relevant to all aspects of international agreements from conceptualizing the idea, to working the idea into a concrete plan, to developing a set of agreements, and all the way through the implementation. It is important to consider that the collaboration is a process, not a one-time event. Conversations about the ethical implications of provisions or actions are going to happen at every step of the process. Perspectives may change over time, but the earlier the ethics discussion begins, the better.
  • Ethical issues can be difficult to talk about and cultural implications may be an impediment to straightforward discussion. This makes it all the more important to develop a context and setting in which that conversation can be held. This is a function of several factors, such as the availability of support for workshops and the development of networks. It is easier to have these conversations with those one knows and with whom one has developed some trust.
  • There is value in articulating the general ethical principles in the agreement. The group discussed a possible list of principles (e.g., transparency, fairness), and collaborators might similarly agree to the important parameters and how to apply them in a systematic way.
  • This is not just an abstract discussion. It is important that ethical principles are reflected in the details of business practices and how the partnership will function.

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