Integrity and accountability are two of UAB’s seven Shared Values. That means all faculty and staff are obligated to act ethically, do what is right and act with the best interests of the university in mind.
The right thing to do in a particular situation may not always be immediately obvious, however. In each of its quarterly editions, Compliance 411, the newsletter of UAB’s Office of Compliance & Risk Assurance, challenges readers to navigate a hypothetical scenario designed to increase awareness of ethics and compliance issues facing faculty and staff.
Challenge yourself with five recent scenarios below — answers are at the bottom of the page. (For a chance to win gift certificates and other prizes in the next Compliance Challenge, subscribe to Compliance 411 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
1. Disclosing ownership interest
Willa is a full-time UAB faculty member who has responsibilities in teaching, research and patient care. Her spouse has just launched a tech company that strives to connect patients and families with others with the same clinical diagnoses for purposes of networking and support. When should Willa disclose this ownership interest?
B. Before taking on any consulting role with the company.
C. In any discussion she participates in where a decision is to be made about UAB contracting with the company.
D. As directed by the Conflict of Interest Review Board Office in presentations or publications if subject to a conflict of interest management plan.
E. All of the above.
2. Helping a troubled student
Professor Arthur’s physics class is almost one third of the way through the first semester, and she is preparing her students for the mid-term exam. She is glad to see that one of her students, Amy, is present today because her attendance has been inconsistent. Amy has been very attentive at times, but at others has appeared to be weepy and distracted in class. While Professor Arthur is concerned, she doesn’t want to pry into Amy’s personal matters. Yet she fears that, with Amy’s poor attendance, she may not have the chance to talk with her again.
Given the challenge of having to decide what to do in the moment, Professor Arthur should:
B. Wait to see how she does on the midterm and bring Amy’s matter up at the next faculty meeting.
C. Stop Amy at the door and ask if she is taking anything for her ADHD.
D. As soon as class is over, privately tell Amy that she has observed her being absent, appearing emotional, and not focusing on the class discussion, and that UAB offers support services through Academic Success, Student Health Services, Student Counseling Services and Disability Support Services.
E. Instruct Amy to drop the class.
3. Reporting harassment
Gwen is a financial analyst for a large university department. During the past month, she has had to fend off both verbal and physical sexual advances by Robert, another financial analyst, with whom she works in close proximity. Her position requires frequent collaboration with Robert on projects. Though she has told him more than once to cease and desist, he continues to make lewd jokes in her presence and attempts to touch her arm or her cheek in conversations.
In this scenario, to whom can Gwen report this sexual harassment?
B. A compliance officer
C. University Title IX Officer
D. The Ethics Hotline
E. Any of the above
4. Research integrity quandary
You are reviewing the CV of a departmental colleague for preparation of a grant proposal and decide to take a closer look at some of the papers on which he is listed as first author. You find that a number of them use the same blots and figures for different experimental conditions. You casually ask one of the co-authors listed about their joint experiments, and she recalls having only conducted one. While you want to believe there is a reasonable explanation, you begin to worry that there are potential problems with the data being reported.
What would you do?
B. Immediately contact the Research Integrity Officer to discuss the situation.
C. Conduct a full review to determine if there are problems with the data.
D. Take a few days to consider the repercussions of reporting your discovery and the effects it could have on your career, as well as that of the faculty member. You may determine it is not worth reporting.
E. Call the Ethics Hotline to anonymously report your concerns.
5. Flagging concerning behavior
Which of the following circumstances would be appropriate to report to UAB’s Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management Team?
B. You are a faculty member on a tenure review committee who received an email from a colleague explicitly threatening to do harm to committee members who denied her tenure.
C. You are a graduate student to whom a research assistant directed sexually suggestive remarks in a project status meeting.
D. You are a departmental assistant who overhears a student who is normally gregarious and energetic speaking of suicide and isolating himself from his friends.
E. You are an instructor to whom a student complains about grading her final exam with a B instead of an A.
Question 1: E (back to question 1)
Question 2: D (back to question 2)
Question 3: E (back to question 3)
Question 4: A, B or E (back to question 4)
Question 5: B or D (back to question 5)