Additional Information


Case 57. Establishing Boundaries on Projects


John Boudreaux has worked as a research assistant on Professor Kent Hermann's project on crime rates in the United States. The project, funded by a major granting agency, has been designed to have answer a number of research questions on whether the "dark figure of crime" has been growing in the United States (as a result of increased political pressure to show a decrease in the crime rate) or has been declining (due to better methods of police investigation). This is complicated project which will take a number of years to compile the data and do analyses. Professor Hermann has a reputation of including graduate students in publication and of encouraging them to do dissertations from the project or related aspects.  John has decided to do a dissertation out of this project and presents Professor Hermann with a prospectus. Professor Hermann realizes that the student is simply interested in testing the major ideas of the project. Professor Hermann discusses this as a problem with the student and asks for a revision which focuses in on some particular segment or which adds additional theoretical concerns (and perhaps additional data) to the proposed dissertation. John revises the proposal adding a important extension of the theoretical framework but continuing to concentrate primarily on the ideas laid out in the original grant proposal.


  1. What are the ethical problems here?
  2. What could Professor Hermann do to assist John in the development of this proposal? What measures should Professor Hermann take to insure his intellectual property if this is at stake?

Reflect on the above questions and form your own answers before clicking the Discussion key to review the commentary provided with this case.