Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 1217–1244 | Cite as

A Comparison of the Effects of Ethics Training on International and US Students

  • Logan M. SteeleEmail author
  • James F. Johnson
  • Logan L. Watts
  • Alexandra E. MacDougall
  • Michael D. Mumford
  • Shane Connelly
  • T. H. Lee Williams
Original Paper


As scientific and engineering efforts become increasingly global in nature, the need to understand differences in perceptions of research ethics issues across countries and cultures is imperative. However, investigations into the connection between nationality and ethical decision-making in the sciences have largely generated mixed results. In Study 1 of this paper, a measure of biases and compensatory strategies that could influence ethical decisions was administered. Results from this study indicated that graduate students from the United States and international graduate students studying in the US are prone to different biases. Based on these findings, recommendations are made for developing ethics education interventions to target these decision-making biases. In Study 2, we employed an ethics training intervention based on ethical sensemaking and used a well-established measure of ethical decision-making that more fully captures the content of ethical judgment. Similar to Study 1, the results obtained in this study suggest differences do exist between graduate students from the US and international graduate students in ethical decision-making prior to taking the research ethics training. However, similar effects were observed for both groups following the completion of the ethics training intervention.


Ethical decision-making Nationality Moral judgment RCR Ethics training 



The University of Oklahoma was a research partner in the Council of Graduate Schools’ initiative “Modeling effective research ethics education in graduate international collaborations.” The award is made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (#1135345). We would like to thank Daniel Denecke and Julia Kent for their support and contributions to the success of this project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This research is the result of a partnership with Council of Graduate Schools and their initiative “Modeling effective research ethics education in graduate international collaborations.” The award is made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (#1135345).

Conflict of interest

All authors, except T. H. Lee Williams, have received monetary compensation as a result of the National Science Foundation grant given to the Council of Graduate Schools.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Center for Applied Social ResearchUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Strategic Research and Assessment BranchUnited States Air ForceNormanUSA
  3. 3.Department of Management, College of Business AdministrationCentral Michigan UniversityMount PleasantUSA
  4. 4.Graduate CollegeUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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