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Case 30. Accuracy of Credentials and Competence
in Public Communications


Before completing her doctorate, Carrie Medlin took a teaching position at a university where she has now been for seven years. She has still not completed her dissertation. In classes, students call her "Doctor" Medlin. Medlin is interested in the area of family violence and is often asked to speak to community groups on the topic. As a speaker, she is commonly introduced as "Doctor" Medlin. She does not explain to students or community groups that she has not completed her doctorate. Most of Medlin's research on family violence is based on questionnaires given over the years to students who take her course on sociology of the family. One morning, Susan Duncan, who went to graduate school with Medlin, sees Medlin discussing family violence on a nationally-syndicated television talk-show. The talk-show host introduces Medlin as an expert on family violence with a Ph.D. in sociology. Medlin expounds on family violence but does not mention that her research is based on student surveys.


  1. Is Medlin's failure to correct misconceptions about her credentials an ethical issue?
  2. Does Duncan have any ethical responsibility in this situation?

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