Web Documents

Jones 2010

Created By: Sarah Nguyen

J Med Ethics 2010;36:614-619 doi:10.1136/jme.2009.035220
Teaching and learning ethics
Developing a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum for professionalism and scientific integrity training for biomedical graduate students

Nancy L Jones1, Ann M Peiffer2, Ann Lambros3, Martin Guthold4, A Daniel Johnson5, Michael Tytell6, April E Ronca7, J Charles Eldridge8
+ Author Affiliations

 [1] A multidisciplinary faculty committee designed a curriculum to shape biomedical graduate students into researchers with a high commitment to professionalism and social responsibility and to provide students with tools to navigate complex, rapidly evolving academic and societal environments with a strong ethical commitment. The curriculum used problem-based learning (PBL), because it is active and learner-centred and focuses on skill and process development. Two courses were developed: Scientific Professionalism: Scientific Integrity addressed discipline-specific and broad professional norms and obligations for the ethical practice of science and responsible conduct of research (RCR). Scientific Professionalism: Bioethics and Social Responsibility focused on current ethical and bioethical issues within the scientific profession, and implications of research for society. Each small-group session examined case scenarios that included: (1) learning objectives for professional norms and obligations; (2) key ethical issues and philosophies within each topic area; (3) one or more of the RCR instructional areas; and (4) at least one type of moral reflection. Cases emphasised professional standards, obligations and underlying philosophies for the ethical practice of science, competing interests of stakeholders and oversight of science (internal and external). To our knowledge, this is the first use of a longitudinal, multi-semester PBL course to teach scientific integrity and professionalism. Both faculty and students endorsed the active learning approach for these topics, in contrast to a compliance-based approach that emphasises learning rules and regulations.

 [2] While the scientific community generally endorses the importance of scientific integrity, in practice it relies heavily on mentoring to informally transmit values affecting the ethical conduct of research. After two decades of requiring training in responsible conduct of research (RCR) by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)1 2 and more recently by the National Science Foundation,3 certain common desired knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours have emerged.2 4 5 Goals for instruction in scientific integrity include decreasing research misconduct and promoting standards of scientific conduct.4 6

 [3] Wake Forest University promotes professionalism and social responsibility for research and strives to equip our students with the skills to navigate the research environment with scientific integrity. We designed a curriculum that uses problem-based learning (PBL) embedding several educational principles effective for adult learning and recommended for promoting scientific integrity.2 7 These include a sequenced approach across graduate school training,8 9 an active rather than passive learner-centred approach and case scenarios with problems relevant to the learner's needs.10–12
The small-group design, with faculty facilitators, encourages open communication and socialisation around professional norms. Scientists with high status, resources and symbolic value affect the degree to which members of organisations internalise norms.9 13 14 Small groups create a close proximity to role models (facilitators) to affect behaviour in a positive way by leveraging identity as part of the culture and internalisation of norms.15 16 The course embedded moral reflection into the cases to facilitate peer discussion and concentrated practice in moral problem-solving, to take advantage of the positive relationship between moral reasoning and moral behaviour.17

PBL uses cases that comprise authentic ‘real-world’ dilemmas and require students to acquire new knowledge to resolve the problem. Unlike case-based learning, which presents new content and then demonstrates its application with a case study using the new information, PBL is student centred; the quest for more information drives student learning in a collaborative, group-centred, hands-on setting.18 Two fundamental pedagogical principles underlie PBL: students learn best (1) in groups rather than alone and (2) when they actively participate in identifying and addressing their knowledge gaps.

PBL differs from other case-based instructional methods in several ways. It encompasses the ‘5E’ instructional model (engage, explain, explore, elaborate and evaluate), and each problem-case unfolds over two group sessions separated by 4 to 7 days, to promote a learning cycle. In session one, students identify learning issues needed to solve the problem. During the interval, individual students acquire specific content knowledge to address these learning issues. At the second session, students collaboratively use their knowledge and resources to solve more complex controversies and problems revealed as the case continues.

Although most US medical schools make some use of the PBL approach for developing skills, shaping attitudes and transmitting didactic knowledge19 and some PBL cases for research ethics have been developed,20 we are unaware of another longitudinal multi-semester PBL curriculum to teach scientific integrity to biomedical graduate students. Thus, the purpose of this report is to document this institutional experience in designing and implementing an innovative new curriculum that also incorporates the NIH basic principles for RCR instruction.2

Wake Forest University School of Medicine (WFUSM) implemented PBL as a principal educational strategy for medical students in 1987. This provided rich resources for developing course materials, including a grading rubric and facilitator training materials. Earlier RCR and bioethics graduate courses at Wake Forest University, as well as the nine RCR instructional areas on the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) website (ie, data acquisition, management, sharing and ownership, conflict of interest and commitment, human subjects, animal welfare, research misconduct, authorship, mentor/trainee responsibilities, peer review and collaborative science) provided examples for cases and objectives.

After discussions with the graduate school dean and graduate programme directors, the graduate programmes recommended a curriculum design to fit within the first 2 years of graduate student training. These mandatory courses for all biomedical graduate programmes (11 PhD programmes and 1 MS programme) fulfilled the graduate school's training requirements for RCR.

We created an Advisory Committee for Ethics and Professionalism, composed of faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students from 14 departments at the two campuses of Wake Forest University and the joint biomedical engineering programme with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Advisory Committee prioritised case topics based on relevance to their graduate students' needs and advised on the implementation of the course, such as synchronising topics to student experiences. Our prototype cases were tested with faciliators and graduate students and the feedback was used to refine the cases and develop faciliator case notes. The faciliator case notes helped to ensure consistently effective quality of delivery for different groups.

The WFUSM Department of Academic Computing provided electronic delivery of course materials through an established enterprise-level web-based courseware system that ‘releases’ the PBL cases to students at the start of the small group's scheduled meeting times. This system promoted ‘real-time’ analysis and discussion of events.

Curriculum materials included 14 cases (see table 1), corresponding facilitator case notes, course administration materials, a grading schema, evaluation forms and facilitator training materials.

View this table: In this window In a new window
Table 1
Overview of PBL Ethics and Professionalism curriculum

Course faculty introduced the course objectives, the PBL method, RCR concepts and pilot cases to first-year graduate students during their orientation period.

All WFUSM graduate students must take four one-credit courses: Scientific Professionalism: Scientific Integrity (I and II) during the first year, and Scientific Professionalism: Bioethics and Social Responsibility (III and IV) during the second year (table 1). First-year cases focus on the discipline-specific and broad professional norms and obligations for the ethical practice of science and the principles of responsible conduct of research. Topics include the student–advisor relationship, laboratory personnel dynamics, research collaborations, appropriate handling of data, attribution of credit, plagiarism, rights of conscience and ethical issues in animal and human research. Second-year cases focus on current ethical and bioethical issues within the scientific profession and the implications of research for society. Topics include entrance of bias into research, limits of scientific authority, conflicts of interest, peer review, dual-use research and commercialisation and globalisation of science. Each case presents realistic, professional conflicts and ethical dilemmas that range from very subtle to overt misconduct. Each course builds on prior ones, increasing the complexity and sensitivity of issues while taking advantage of increased competency with the PBL method and enhanced group functioning.

Small-group design
Graduate students work in small groups of 6–8, with two facilitators serving as metacognitive coaches and process facilitators. Each group includes students from diverse graduate programmes and nationalities. The metacognitive facilitator ensures that students acquire PBL skills and process for appropriate group dynamics. The initial implemenation relied heavily on graduate faculty who were experienced medical school PBL facilitators. By the second year of implementation, postdoctoral fellows were trained as facilitators using a newly developed certification programme that included sections on how to facilitate PBL courses, principles and values in science, RCR and moral reflection. Postdoctoral fellows were paired with a faculty facilitator.

Facilitator training
Trained and experienced facilitators, serving as cognitive coaches rather than content experts, are key to ensuring that case delivery conforms to the designed methodology and achieves case objectives. We created a training document, A Guide to Facilitating the Scientific Professionalism Courses, that describes course philosophy and structure, PBL methodology, moral reasoning techniques, the small-group facilitation process and facilitator role obligations (eg, debriefing, providing feedback, grading, etc). We also developed a detailed rubric to promote uniform evaluation across groups (see Grading section below and table 2).

View this table: In this window In a new window
Table 2
Example of a student evaluation rubric (individual skills in group process)

The PBL method takes advantage of a dynamic that emerges from the group's members as they interact with issues or conflicts being discussed. The best way to learn to process and facilitate this dynamic is to practise with each other by assuming roles as facilitators and students. The novices then receive suggestions on how to improve their performance, and an explanation of how the group's observations relate to the evaluation rubric.

Structure of the curriculum cases
Each case emphasises certain professionalism issues in the biomedical research culture, with students given specific professional roles (eg, first-year student, advanced student, postdoctoral fellow, principal investigator). Giving each group member a specific role in each case drives moral reasoning more strongly than typical case discussion, which drives abstract problem-solving. Each case brings out learning objectives covering professional norms and obligations as well as key ethical issues for the topic area, one or more of the RCR instructional areas, principles of scientific practice and virtues of scientists (table 1). We designed scenarios to foster a realistic understanding of the practice and social nature of science. The cases go beyond a simple coverage of RCR and overt research misconduct by addressing the need to manage competing interests of various stakeholders and to deal constructively with difficult conversations and questionable research practices. Some cases also touch on current philosophical, ethical and bioethical issues within the scientific profession, and implications of research for society. The curriculum design promotes self-directed learning by requiring each student to prepare a written assignment during the intersession of each case.

A major goal of the curriculum is to develop ethical reflection skills by embedding into each case questions that address one or two of the following concepts: moral sensitivity, moral reasoning and judgement, moral motivation and commitment, and moral character and competence.21 22 The curriculum promotes moral sensitivity, the ability to see things from the perspective of others and to be aware of legal, institutional and national concerns, by presenting situations in which the ethical issues are not predigested or interpreted. This technique promotes student awareness of nuances as they learn to distinguish relevant from irrelevant information and encounter pertinent research customs, rules, regulations and laws. The curriculum frequently requires students to consider the case from various stakeholders' points of view to promote the development of sensitivity to ethical issues likely to arise in the research setting.

The curriculum promotes moral motivation and commitment, developing a sense of professional identity and internalisation of the scientific culture's norms and values, by structuring some cases that require students to consider their choices and decisions as a professional scientist. Also, some characters in the cases are exemplar scientists.

Moral character and competence focuses on skills such as interpersonal interactions and problem-solving. Small-group design promotes interpersonal interactions and improves the participants' group skills. Most scenarios require students to defend their choices and decisions by supplying criteria for their judgements. Some scenarios become very active by requiring role-playing.

Moral reasoning and judgement is learning how to weigh the principles, values and consequences embedded in moral judgements. Forcing choices and decisions elicits better moral reasoning and judgement rather than relying on abstract problem-solving. For this activity, we drew on two published moral reasoning methods: Developing a Well-Reasoned Response to a Moral Problem in Scientific Research Ethics23 and Three Quick Ethics Questions24 (table 3).

View this table: In this window In a new window
Table 3
Examples of two moral reasoning methods used in case discussions

Debriefing group activity
Each case concludes with a debriefing activity designed to (1) reinforce the course expectations, (2) reveal the concrete learning objectives and skills acquired during the case and (3) improve the group's functioning through feedback. Debriefing assures students who are more accustomed to didactic instruction that they are still acquiring important content and skills. Moreover, if not brought up in prior discussions, debriefing links the importance and relevance of each case's content to current headlines and discussions in the present-day scientific, regulatory and political arenas.

Facilitator case notes
A major advantage of the PBL format is that facilitators do not need to be content experts; their role is to promote effective student discussion of case issues. However, it became necessary to develop extensive case notes to present facilitators an overview of the specific skills, learning issues, content resources and discussion guide. Notes (which students do not receive) include a brief case synopsis, listings of case objectives, RCR elements, values, principles and type(s) of moral reflection embedded in each case. Table 4 shows a truncated example; complete facilitator notes typically encompass 10 or more pages of discussion.

View this table: In this window In a new window
Table 4
Example overview of a facilitator's case notes

The grading philosophy of the faculty reflected the curricular goals of helping students recognise important ethical issues in the practice of science and developing their skills at moral reasoning, effective group participation, self-directed learning, and articulation, defence and critique of reasoned arguments. Each student was graded pass or fail on the following four criteria: (1) problem analysis, moral reflection and reasoning, (2) self-directed learning, knowledge acquisition and written assignments, (3) individual skills in group process and (4) group process development (effectiveness of the whole group) (see sample rubric in table 2).

Kalichman proposed three goals for RCR education: ‘empowering trainees to respond to the ethical challenges raised in the conduct of research, increasing awareness of the purpose and value of ethical decision making as well as the roles and responsibilities of whistleblowers, and fostering a positive attitude about promoting an environment that values RCR’.25 Often, scientists equate integrity with preventing research misconduct—for example, falsification, fabrication and plagiarism. The research community is skeptical of a compliance-oriented approach to training in scientific integrity, because it is often seen as a thinly-veiled harangue on what is wrong with the practice of science. Merely teaching rules and regulations will not ensure ethical behaviour. Alternatively, excessive focus on survival skills can have an unintended consequence of endorsing questionable research practices in the name of career success and self-preservation.26 In response, newer prototypes for scientific integrity training use a broader approach by incorporating both micro-ethics (for example, making ethical choices in the practice of research) and macro-ethics (for example, ethical issues in larger social and institutional settings).2 27 Our curriculum embraces this more expansive coverage of scientific integrity that focuses on learning the role obligations of scientists, micro- and macro-ethics and acquiring skills.

The deliberately complex problems in our cases are well suited to provide contextually relevant ethical and professional problems in the practice of research, as well as broader contemporary bioethical issues in scientific research. The PBL design permits utilisation of different approaches to unravel the components of a problem, such as the four types of moral reflection. The curriculum also fosters development of various skills, such as the scientific process (eg, resource evaluation, data collection, analysis and interpretation); recognition of ethical issues in the practice of science; sound moral reasoning, effective group and team work (clear communication, facilitating discussion, constructive critique); self-directed learning skills and application of new knowledge; and articulating, defending and critiquing one's professional decisions with reasoned arguments.

We propose that students do not need explicit education in ethical theory. However, students found the two moral reasoning techniques taught in the curriculum (table 3) useful, because they afford a concrete method for working with abstract ethical concepts. A larger issue was confronting the myth that it is impossible to teach ethics. There is no doubt that the moral underpinnings learned early in life highly influence one's future ethical conduct. However, it is equally important to recognise that ‘… the correct conduct of science cannot have been learned in childhood since many scientific practices (eg, authorship practices, the confidentiality of peer review) are not elements of childhood’.28 More to the point, graduate students in science should begin to consider themselves members of the scientific community who are becoming independent professionals. To do so, they need explicit training in the expectations and norms for practising science. Initial student feedback on our curriculum also indicated that some students believe that ethics are personal and were uncertain whether their personal decisions should be discussed openly. We contend that members of the scientific community should be able to justify their actions to peers and to society on the basis of professional norms.

At first, some students resisted the PBL method because of unfamiliarity and a preference for pre-identified learning objectives within a didactic format. By the second semester, however, students became competent and more comfortable with the format. Because group facilitators are not content experts who provide ‘correct’ solutions for cases, ultimate responsibility for learning rests on the students, both individually and as a group. The process requires them to become self-directed, independent learners by exploring various hypotheses and approaches to address the central problem(s) of each case. On the other hand, negative comments from students about facilitators who attempted to dominate discussion with monologues about their own experiences endorsed the value of the PBL methodology. Students want, and will accept responsibility for, their own learning and will take the initiative to keep their group discussions aligned with PBL principles.

Our curriculum design also facilitates students' ability to develop an identity as a professional, socialise around professional norms, acculturate to a strongly embedded ethos and acquire moral reflection skills such as moral reasoning. The small-group design is important for helping individuals internalise norms and values—for example, having open communication and socialisation to cultural norms with peers and role models.15 16 If one goal is to affect ethical behaviour, then shaping the organisational ethical code of conduct is essential.29 Another advantage of the small-group design is that the graduate faculty serve dual functions, as metacognitive group coaches and as role models. This format counters a tendency for graduate students to become isolated too quickly within narrow laboratory social structures and it expands their network of peers, role models and mentors in ways that persist after the completion of the course. Further, through our evaluation scheme, we emphasise the importance of skill development to promote lifelong learning.

The importance of institutional support for a PBL curriculum cannot be overstated. The small-group format with two facilitators is labour-intensive and requires significant logistical support to coordinate multiple groups and schedules. However, our institution reconciled this investment through its commitment to create a community that values scientific integrity. The graduate school leadership also recognised that the curriculum fulfilled larger training needs in two important ways: (1) the PBL format provides concentrated practice working in groups, thereby developing students' interpersonal skills and their ability to articulate, defend and critique professional decisions; and (2) the PBL format increases the faculty's competency in ethics, because they also learn while facilitating discussions. In addition, the curriculum provides junior faculty and postdoctoral trainees an opportunity to build a teaching portfolio and fulfil newer requirements for RCR training,2 while still meeting other professional demands within a research-intensive institution.

Essential factors for the successful development and implementation of our curriculum included, first and foremost, support from the graduate school deans, who decided to mandate the programme for all graduate students and used it to fulfil the institutional RCR training requirements. Our earlier extensive experiences with PBL for medical education, and earlier RCR and bioethics courses, enabled quicker curriculum development. Receiving cross-graduate programme input through the Advisory Committee for Ethics and Professionalism and conducting a formal evaluation of the curriculum (the subject of a companion paper) were also important. These stages actively involved graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty in refining the curriculum—and in the process they became avid supporters of the endeavour.

Kalichman and Plemmons asserted that ‘[t]he implicit question is, therefore, if responsible conduct is essential to being good scientists, then how are the relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes, and behaviors to be taught, and by whom?’ We propose that the relevant knowledge should include a realistic understanding of the practice of science. Skills should include the ability to recognise ethical issues in the practice of science, to understand the ethical implications of science for society, to reason ethically, to work effectively within groups and to articulate and defend one's professional judgement. Students should acquire attitudes regarding acculturation to the norms of professional science, principles and values of science and its obligations and virtues. All faculty, especially research advisors, should be instructors for transmission of these important skills and values for the scientific community. A curriculum such as this will prepare graduate students to be future leaders in our rapidly changing professional environment.

In addition to the authors, members of the Advisory Committee for Ethics and Professionalism were: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University faculty H Clay Gabler. Wake Forest University faculty Drs Bernard A Brown, David Roberts, Craig Hamilton and David Lyons; postdoctoral fellow Dr Ellen Palmer; and graduate students Jason Graves, Meghna B Ostasiewski, Jennifer Mozolic and Heather Cohn. Dr Muriel Bebeau served as a consultant during the early conceptualisation of the curriculum. The authors thank Drs Gordon Melson and Lorna Moore, graduate deans of Wake Forest, who provided essential support for this project. The authors also owe a sincere indebtedness to Susan Pierce, graduate school registrar, who provided invaluable insights during design and implementation and played the major role in ensuring logistical support.
Category: Research Sources | Comments: 0 | Rate:
0 Votes
You have rated this item.

Manning 2004

Created By: Sarah Nguyen

Academy of Medical Sciences: promoting advances in health science and biomedical research
Mary Manning, BAHons, Executive Director
+ Author Affiliations

Academy of Medical Sciences, London

[1] The Academy of Medical Sciences has matured quickly and found a distinctive niche amongst leading opinion formers and policy makers in healthcare and biomedical research. The Academy's 800 Fellows are the UK's leading medical scientists from hospitals, academia, public service and industry, and it is their expertise that gives the Academy its authority. The Academy campaigns vigorously to put science at the heart of the UK's public policy agenda in health, and to ensure that rapid advances in knowledge are translated as quickly as possible into benefits for patients. This paper briefly describes the work of the Academy and highlights the key achievements of the early years, particularly the Academy's role in drawing Government attention to the plight of academic medicine. The failure of clinical research to keep pace with scientific advances is now fully recognised and steps are being taken to establish new structures and to rebuild capacity in the UK.
Category: Research Sources | Comments: 0 | Rate:
0 Votes
You have rated this item.

Anonymous 2012c

Created By: Sarah Nguyen

Biomedical scientist: Rachel

 [1] Rachel graduated in pathology and microbiology at the University of Bristol in 2003. Four years later, she decided to become a biomedical scientist (BMS) and needed further study, which she completed simultaneously with a trainee biomedical scientist position. She is now a qualified BMS and works in clinical chemistry at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital NHS.
After completing my degree in pathology and microbiology, I was unsure what career path I wanted to follow and spent the next two years travelling and working in a variety of jobs completely unrelated to my degree subject. In 2005, I applied for and was successful in obtaining a position as a medical laboratory assistant (MLA) in the clinical chemistry laboratory of my local hospital. I wanted to use the skills and knowledge I had gained in my degree course and explore future career opportunities available to me.

[2] I worked as an MLA for two years, during which time I became familiar with the work of a BMS in healthcare and decided I would like to pursue a career in this field. My degree was not accredited by the governing body of biomedical scientists and I was required to take supplementary ‘top-up’ modules, which I completed through the University of Ulster distance learning programme. Once I’d completed this, I was able to apply for a trainee BMS position within my laboratory.
I was successful in my application and began my training. I thoroughly enjoyed my training year, working with an extremely knowledgeable and helpful team. During the year, I completed my certificate of competence portfolio, documenting the work I’d done and the skills and knowledge I’d developed. I had my portfolio assessed at the end of my training year and conducted a laboratory tour for my assessor. I passed my assessment and was able to apply for state registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) .

 [3] I’ve now been a qualified BMS for 18 months and enjoy my job very much. The clinical chemistry laboratory where I work is a high-throughput laboratory. We process approximately 2,500 samples a day and aim to carry out sample processing as quickly and accurately as possible. The work we do can be very fast paced and it’s important to be able to have good time management skills, to be focused and to be able to prioritise urgent work.
My laboratory provides analyses of a wide variety of tests using many different techniques. The job requires a range of technical skills as well as the ability to understand and interpret patient results. The lab is divided into different sections including HPLC, first trimester Downs syndrome screening, high-throughput automated analysis and manual testing. BMS staff rotate around these sections, which gives variety to the job and stops it becoming repetitive, and we offer a 24/7 service, which means there’s always a BMS on duty through the night. The work is challenging and constantly evolving and so there’s plenty of scope to continue to learn new skills.
Category: Research Sources | Comments: 0 | Rate:
0 Votes
You have rated this item.

Summerhayes 2012

Created By: Sarah Nguyen

Biomedical scientist:
Job description
More in this section
Job description
Salary and conditions
Entry requirements
Career development
Employers and vacancy …
Related jobs
Print all pages in this section

Case studies
Biomedical scientist: Rachel
Biomedical scientist: Camilla

[1] Biomedical scientists work in healthcare and carry out a range of laboratory tests and techniques on tissue samples and fluids to help clinicians diagnose diseases. They also evaluate the effectiveness of treatments.
Their work is extremely important for many hospital departments and the functions they carry out are wide ranging. For example, they may work on medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, AIDS, malaria, food poisoning or anaemia, or carry out tests for emergency blood transfusions or to see if someone has had a heart attack. 

Biomedical scientists tend to specialise in one particular area including: 

medical microbiology - identification of micro-organisms causing disease and their antibiotic treatment;
clinical chemistry - analysis of body fluids and toxicology studies;
transfusion science - determination of donor/recipient blood compatibility, ensuring blood banks are sufficient;
haematology - form and functions of blood and related diseases;
histopathology - microscopic examination of diseased tissue samples;
cytology - best known for cervical smear screening, but also covers other cellular analysis;
immunology - understanding the immune system and its role in combating disease;
virology - identification of viruses, associated diseases and monitoring the effectiveness of vaccines.

Typical work activities
[2] Biomedical scientists usually work with equipment with high levels of automation, and most laboratories are extensively computerised.
Work activities vary depending on the specialist area but typically include:
testing human samples such as blood, tissue, urine or cerebrospinal and faecal material for enzymes, hormones, and other constituents;
analysing cell cultures grown from tissue samples and identifying blood groups;
working with computers, sophisticated automated machinery, microscopes and other hi-tech laboratory equipment;
assisting in ensuring that the necessary turnaround times for reporting results are achieved wherever possible;
communicating the results of tests to medical staff, who use the information to diagnose and treat the patient’s illness;
monitoring the effects of medication and other programmes of treatment by carrying out further tests;
using information technology to accurately record and analyse data, write reports and share results;
responding to and redirecting professional enquiries;
assisting in the production of laboratory documentation, particularly relating to policies and standard operating procedures;
developing new methods of investigation and keeping up to date with diagnostic innovations;
implementing quality control procedures (both internal and external) to maintain accurate results;
maintaining and updating professional knowledge and taking responsibility for continuing professional development (CPD).
Although some of the analytical work may be of a routine nature, many of the tests are challenging and demanding. Modern pathology and biomedical work entail complex investigations, requiring a keen eye for detail and the ability to provide a quality service despite pressure from tight deadlines and a high volume of work. The ability to work effectively as part of a team is an important personal quality for the role.
Category: Research Sources | Comments: 0 | Rate:
0 Votes
You have rated this item.

Joss 2012

Created By: Sarah Nguyen

Careers in Biological Sciences
Find out if you're meant for an allied health career in biological sciences
by Molly JossRSSPrintE-mailCommentDAHC 2005 Fall / Winter

 [1] If you’re interested in an allied health career, you have a lot of options beyond the traditional health care jobs. To figure out if you’re interested in an allied health career with a particular focus in biological studies you’ll need to evaluate your interests further. You may be drawn to a particular type of health care work because of prior experiences. Someone whose family has been affected by an inherited disease might decide to be a genetic counselor, for example.
Or, if you’re a big fan of one of the CSI shows or other shows related to true crime on television, you might be interested in working as a forensic scientist.
Considering your own personal interests is a good start, but you need to do more. You must factor into your decision information about current work opportunities, longer-term job prospects and earnings potential. Some jobs require extensive education, but some do not. You might be able to get a job with a two-year degree, but some employers prefer a four-year degree. You need to decide if the additional training is worth it to you.
Consider on-going training and certification requirements as well. We will discuss the specific educational requirements required to pursue careers in biological science fields later in this article.

Careers in Biological Sciences
 [2] Did you know that some biologists work with drug companies to research and test new products? They also wind-up in government organizations to study the economic impact of biological issues like the extinction of wild animals, the protection of natural resources and environmental pollution. Biologists in areas such as bioinformatics and computational biology use mathematics to solve biological problems, such as modeling ecosystem processes and gene sequencing. Journalists and writers with a science background write articles about up-and-coming biological issues. Open up one of your biology textbooks; an artist with a strong background in biology undoubtedly created those illustrations.
Clearly, those with a background in biological sciences are needed in a variety of different fields.
There are so many directions to take an interest in an allied health care career that it may be difficult to narrow down your choices to a few. Once you do, however, you can begin to investigate the educational requirements and schools that offer programs for training in these fields. If you know you’re not sure what you want to specialize in, look for a training school that offers a big variety of possibilities. That way, if you do change your mind, you may be able to switch careers without changing schools.

Genetic Counseling
Every day science is learning more about human genetics and especially about how a person’s genes can affect their health. And you don’t have to have a Ph.D. in genetics to get involved. You could be a genetic counselor—someone who works with people who have genetic disorders, inherited diseases, or those who are at risk for genetic disorders. Genetic counselors work with other people in the medical profession such as medical specialists. Many provide prenatal counseling to people, but other types of jobs are also possible.
The work pays well, but not as much as some allied health care jobs. In 2002 the median income for counselors with a master’s degree and five years experience ranged from $47,000 to $56,000. Specialization in a specific disorder might help increase the range.
As a genetic counselor, your workday may include one-on-one sessions with people who are frightened or upset because they are discovering information about their genetic disorder. Therefore it is important that you posses a good bedside manner. Often you will have to explain, in every-day language, patients’ options and convey information about their disorder. If the problem has not yet been identified, you may work with them to learn more about their family’s medical history and order testing.
Some genetic counselors spend the majority of their time educating people and serving as a resource for patients and other health care professionals. Others research specific genetic diseases—and not necessarily in the laboratory. Genetic researchers sometimes work in communities of people who have close genetic ties, such as the Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio. By talking to people in these communities, the counselors are able to track the spread of inherited diseases.

As a genetic counselor, you could also find work at a biotech company researching, designing or selling tests related to genetic disorders. As more becomes known about genetic diseases, demand for people who are able to do this kind of work will continue to grow significantly.
Working conditions for genetic counselors vary with the type of work they do. If you work with people as part of a health care team, you might spend most of your time in an office environment, even if the office is located in a hospital. Weekend and night hours aren’t required. On the other hand, going out in the field may require you to meet with people in their homes at their convenience.
Fulfilling Requirements

To become a genetic counselor, you will have to get a master’s degree from one of 23 accredited U.S. graduate programs. (For a listing, go to www.gradschools.com/ listings/menus/genetic_cnsl_menu.html.) To become a certified counselor you must complete enough documented clinical work and pass the American Board of Genetic Counseling’s certification exam. To find out more about the certification process, visit the Board’s Web site at www.abgc.net/genetics/abgc/abgcmenu.shtml.

To be admitted to one of the master’s degree programs, you must first complete your undergraduate training. A relevant major such a biology or chemistry will help because it will help you meet some, if not all, of the graduate program pre-requisites. Undergraduate degrees in allied health including nursing or public health also provide a good foundation. The prerequisites for master’s degree programs in genetic counseling vary, so you have to research the requirements of particular colleges or universities. To be admitted to the Arcadia University (Glenside, Pa.) program, for example, you need to have taken biology, chemistry, statistics and psychology as an undergraduate. There are other requirements such as a satisfactory score of 1,000 or higher on the Graduate Record Examination.
If you know you’re interested in a career as a genetic counselor, the best approach is to start checking out master’s degree requirements while you’re still an undergraduate. Doing so will help you avoid having to take extra classes to meet pre-requisites.
Some programs have a specific emphasis. Brandeis University’s (Waltham, Mass.) master’s degree genetic counseling program has a special emphasis on inherited diseases that can cause disabilities. It is one of the few such programs in the country. Beth Rosen Sheidley teaches in the genetics program at the University, but worked for years as a genetic counselor working with under privileged people. She was interested in severely disabling diseases in which genetics are known to play a part such as autism and bi-polar disorder. Of her experience at the college, she says she chose Brandeis because of the focus of the program. “Among all of the genetic counseling programs in existence in 1992, Brandeis was the only program that focused on disability awareness issues. Today it is still the case that Brandeis puts an emphasis on exploring the perspectives of individuals and families living with disability.”
Real World CSI
If you have ever watched any of the CSI programs on TV, you probably have an idea about the kinds of work forensic scientists do. Whether that idea is totally accurate is debatable, but if you find the shows fascinating, then it’s worth exploring this kind of work in the real world. You’ll find the majority of jobs are with local and state governments, and you won’t spend much of your time in a routine office environment. You’ll either be in the crime lab, a morgue or on the crime scene.
The word “forensics” actually means “according to the law,” so people who do forensic work apply scientific methods to all kinds of legal issues. There are forensic accountants who examine company financial records, but most of the people who work in the forensic field examine physical evidence. There isn’t a lot of information about salary ranges for people who work in this field, but beginning salaries for crime scene technologists can start at $20,000. More experience means more money—experienced crime lab or crime scene personnel can make as much as $85,000. Lab directors and medical examiners can earn $100,000 or more. The bigger the city or state, the more money they pay. A lot depends on a particular city’s budget and crime rate.
According to Dr. Dale Nute, adjunct faculty member of the school of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University, there are six general areas of forensic science practice: medical examiner, crime laboratory analyst, crime scene examiner, forensic engineer, psychological profilers, and people who provide specific forensic technical assistance (composite drawing, etc.).
He says that, of the group, medical examiners make the most money. They are the people who conduct autopsies of suspicious deaths, which can mean working odd hours and requires a medical degree. If you’re interested, get started in medical school, he says. “Select a residency that provides a forensic emphasis.” Taking a crime investigation and detection course is also a good idea and probably won’t be available in medical school.
Crime laboratory analysts are the folks who hang out in the crime lab looking at samples taken from a crime scene, including body fluid, tissue, hair and fibers. The work can be routine, but the hours are reasonable. Doing this kind of work usually requires a four-year undergraduate degree in a natural science. Nute recommends a degree in chemistry unless you’re interested in doing DNA analysis. In that case, a biology major with an emphasis in genetics would be required.
Crime scene examiners (also known as crime scene investigators) spent most of their working hours making detailed studies of crime scenes. They often try to reconstruct the crime using blood spatter patterns, examining bullet holes, and looking for other clues. After making the on-scene analysis, they usually need to write up their findings. So, people who do this kind of work have to like paying attention to detail and be willing to put the detail down on paper or testify to them in court.
Nute recommends a four-year degree in “either a natural science with an emphasis in law enforcement and crime scene processing or a criminal justice degree with an emphasis in natural science.” He doesn’t feel that an undergraduate degree in forensic science is necessary because he feels that learning how to do science as an undergraduate is the best preparation for a long-term career. Specialization can be done in graduate school. That said, however, there are a few dozen colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees in forensic science.
You don’t need a bachelor’s degree at all for some of these jobs. You can get started as a crime scene technician, though, with as little as a certification earned online. Kaplan University offers such a program. There are also two-year programs that will get you on the crime scene in a legal way. To get a job as a crime scene examiner, though, a four-year degree along the lines of what Nute suggests is the way to go. Check local and state requirements carefully for additional requirements. Some require you to be a police officer first or require certification.
If you want to spend more than a few years studying, you’ll be preparing yourself for some of the best paying jobs, such as a lab director. With a Ph.D. in forensics you can consult, go into administration or teach at the college or university level. To find out more about forensic science careers, visit the Web site of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences at www.aafs.org.

Good Jobs, Excellent Prospects
Pretty much all allied health careers are on track to chug along at a healthy pace for the foreseeable future. But not many areas of allied health are as exciting as those in forensic science or as potentially life-altering as the work done in genetic counseling. And that’s just the beginning of the fields you can explore in biological science. You can travel to locations all over the world to research the natural world; develop public health campaigns against life-threatening diseases; work towards environmental management and conservation; or dedicate your life to educating others in the classroom, lab or in the field. Or as a biotechnologist you could work to improve the products we use everyday, or enhance the technology we to adapt agriculture, food, science and medicine.
From the very beginning, the study of biology teaches one to ask questions, explore the world around them and solve existing problems. If you possess that innate interest and curiosity, then this is the field for you. And no matter what career you choose in the biological sciences, you will be pursuing a career that is immensely satisfying and inspiring. 
Molly Joss is a free-lance writer, analyst and consultant who writes about career and job issues, among other topics of note.
Category: Research Sources | Comments: 0 | Rate:
0 Votes
You have rated this item.

RUDD 2011 (journal)

Created By: Sarah Nguyen


Abstract:   [1] The large investments needed if loss of biological diversity is to be stemmed will likely lead to increased public and political scrutiny of conservation strategies and the science underlying them. It is therefore crucial to understand the degree of consensus or divergence among scientists on core scientific perceptions and strategies most likely to achieve given objectives. I developed an internet survey designed to elucidate the opinions of conservation scientists. Conservation scientists (n =583) were unanimous (99.5%) in their view that a serious loss of biological diversity is likely, very likely, or virtually certain. Scientists’ agreement that serious loss is very likely or virtually certain ranged from 72.8% for Western Europe to 90.9% for Southeast Asia. Tropical coral ecosystems were perceived as the most seriously affected by loss of biological diversity; 88.0% of respondents familiar with that ecosystem type agreed that a serious loss is very likely or virtually certain. With regard to conservation strategies, scientists most often viewed understanding how people and nature interact in certain contexts and the role of biological diversity in maintaining ecosystem function as their priorities. Protection of biological diversity for its cultural and spiritual values and because of its usefulness to humans were low priorities, which suggests that many scientists do not fully support the utilitarian concept of ecosystem services. Many scientists expressed a willingness to consider conservation triage, engage in active conservation interventions, and consider reframing conservation goals and measures of success for conservation of biological diversity in an era of climate change. Although some heterogeneity of opinion is evident, results of the survey show a clear consensus within the scientific community on core issues of the extent and geographic scope of loss of biological diversity and on elements that may contribute to successful conservation strategies in the future.


 [2] The widespread loss of biological diversity poses a challenge for countries around the world for ecological, economic, and social reasons (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005; SCBD 2010; TEEB 2010). As the extent of loss of biological diversity and its potential effects has gained recognition, a variety of policy responses have followed. For example, numerous national and state-level jurisdictions have implemented policy and regulations to protect endangered species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List and Convention on Biological Diversity were created, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was formed recently. Responding to loss of biological diversity will require improvements in scientific modeling, long-term monitoring, active restoration efforts, and the creation and refinement of governance institutions (e.g., Pereira et al. 2010; Jones et al. 2011; Perrings et al. 2011), all of which will require significant investment.The investments needed if loss of biological diversity is to be stemmed will likely lead to increased public and political scrutiny of conservation strategies and the science underlying them. As in the climate-change debate (Anderegg et al. 2010; Rosenberg et al. 2010), supporters of strong action will likely argue that the science is clear and overwhelmingly consistent with action, whereas skeptics will argue that the science is highly uncertain and unworthy of use as a foundation for public policy. Thus, it will be crucial to understand the degree of consensus among conservation professionals on core scientific points and on feasible and preferred management interventions.Through an internet survey, I assessed the degree of convergence of scientific understanding and opinions on conservation strategies among conservation scientists. The survey addressed three themes: geographic and temporal scope of loss of biological diversity and scientists’ level of understanding of the causes and effects of this loss; perceived importance of different conservation values; and level of agreement on some potentially controversial views in conservation science. The results from my survey provide a snapshot of scientists’ current opinions on the loss of biological diversity globally and conservation strategies that might be used to reverse that loss. Understanding scientists’ opinions could help policy makers interpret conflicting scientific advice, identify conservation options, and improve the likelihood of successful implementation of conservation initiatives.


Survey Instrument

 [3] The survey had six sections. The first introduced the research and addressed survey ethics and data security (see Supporting Information for an example of a full survey). The second section asked about respondents’ demographic and professional characteristics. The third section asked respondents’ opinions about the geographic and temporal scope of loss of biological diversity by region and ecosystem type (“major habitat types” of Olson and Dinerstein [1998]). I modified several questions from a survey that examined the views of climate scientists on the nature, causes, and effects of climate change (Rosenberg et al. 2010) and used language recommended for climate-science research (Morgan et al. 2009) to describe probabilities in qualitative and quantitative terms. The fourth section included a set of 16 best–worst scaling (BWS) questions (Flynn et al. 2007) to fully rank respondents’ levels of agreement with 32 value-oriented statements developed by Sandbrook et al. (2011). The statements encompassed four dimensions within which diverse opinions had been expressed by young conservation scientists: values (why people care); priorities (how they should be set); geography (where conservation should take place); and actions (how conservation should be undertaken). The fifth section of the survey asked about respondents’ levels of agreement with potentially controversial statements about conservation strategies. Of the 17 statements presented in the fifth section, I based 14 on responses from conservation experts interviewed by Hagerman et al (2010), who interviewed a small group of experts on biological diversity and adaptation to climate change. I emphasized conservation triage (i.e., the explicit decision not to treat a given population, species, or ecosystem knowing that a lack of effort will likely lead to possible extinction of that population or species or extreme alteration of the ecosystem). A final section, not reported here, queried respondents regarding possible reasons for a lack of conservation science uptake by policy makers. The survey was constructed with Sawtooth Software's (Sequim, Washington) SSI web-based interviewing platform.

Sample Frame and Sample

My sample frame included all authors who published from 2005 to 2010 in 19 international journals with downloadable abstracts and author information: AMBIO; Animal Conservation; Aquatic Conservation: Biodiversity and Conservation; Biological Invasions; BioScience; Conservation Biology; Conservation Letters; Diversity and Distributions; Ecological Economics; Environmental Conservation; Fish and Fisheries; Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment; Global Ecology and Biogeography; Human Dimensions of Wildlife; Insect Conservation and Diversity; Journal of Applied Ecology; Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems; Restoration Ecology; and Society and Natural Resources.

 [4] I downloaded abstracts for 10,972 articles to Endnote. From this pool, I selected 531 articles (4.8% of the total), which included research articles, reviews, and editorials. The number of articles in the sample was proportional to the total number of articles published annually in each journal (Supporting Information). For journals that publish research not directly pertinent to the management of biological diversity (e.g., Ecological Economics publishes articles on energy policy and trade), I drew proportionally fewer articles overall, selecting only those with a clear biological-diversity theme. From these articles I drew a sample of 1826 authors to contact. I used email addresses provided in the articles or found them through a Google search. For each respondent that completed the survey, I calculated Hirsh's h index (Hirsch 2005), a proxy for scientific standing, with the bibliometric software Publish or Perish (version 3.1; Harzing 2010). An author who has published 50 papers with at least 50 citations each, for example, would have an h index of 50. Although h index is subject to potential errors (e.g., not all publications are found), it provides a relatively robust means of calculating scientific standing. For analysis, I aggregated h index scores into five categories with roughly equal numbers of respondents: ≤3 (n= 124); 4–6 (n= 103); 7–11 (n= 121); 12–19 (n= 123); and ≥20 (n= 112).

Survey Implementation

I contacted authors up to five times (Dillman et al. 2009) over five weeks. I emailed a notice on 19 February 2011 that the survey was to follow and the main survey invitation on 1 March 2011. The invitation email contained a web link so that respondents could access the survey with a single click. I also sent the following additional emails (Supporting Information): a reminder notice on 6 March 2011 to nonrespondents, a second survey invitation to nonrespondents on 13 March 2011, and a final reminder to remaining nonrespondents on 29 March 2011.

Data Analyses

I used Sawtooth Software's BWS module to generate 300 versions of the BWS questions (Supporting Information) to which respondents were randomly assigned. Each of 16 BWS questions contained four statements about conservation strategies, scope, and values drawn from the full set of 32 statements. Respondents were asked to choose the statements with which they agreed most and least (Supporting Information). I analyzed data from the BWS ranking exercise with Sawtooth Software's Hierarchical Bayesian procedures (Sawtooth Software 2007).

I used respondents’ assessments of the likelihood of climate change and serious losses in biological diversity and their ratings of scientists’ level of understanding of the causes and consequences of losses of biological diversity in 2-stage latent-class (LC) cluster analyses. First, LC clustering identified indicator variables that were strongly associated with an unobservable latent variable. Second, segmentation analyses identified mutually exclusive demographically or professionally based segments that were predictive of posterior class membership probabilities from the LC models.

In the first-stage LC model, the frequency of particular responses was used to estimate model parameters with the expectation-maximization algorithm (Vermunt & Magidson 2002) such that the expected frequencies were as close as possible to observed frequencies (see Eid et al. [2003] for an overview of the methods). Heterogeneity of responses can be explored with a variety of tests and information criteria that identify the number of subsegments that result in the closest matches between expected and observed response patterns. Because there is no definitive test of best fit, it is common to use information criteria, which impose penalties on extra model parameters, to choose final models. I used Bayesian information criteria (BIC) to identify the model that was most parsimonious. The BIC test is more appropriate for relatively simple LC models and favors models with fewer classes than alternative criteria (e.g., Akaike information criteria), which facilitates model interpretation.

LC models assume local independence between indicator variables. That is, responses on items are independent given class membership (Eid et al. 2003), which implies that LC structure explains all associations between items that are based on observable responses. I tested the local independence assumption with the bivariate residual Pearson χ2 statistic. A significant bivariate residual statistic (i.e., χ2 > 3.84, df = 1, p < 0.05) indicates the assumption of local independence is erroneous. When I found significant interactions between indicators, I sequentially deleted indicators with the highest number of significant bivariate residual statistics until all significant interactions were eliminated. Indicator variables not included in the LC cluster analysis were not needed to differentiate heterogeneity within the sample. I used Latent Gold software (Vermunt & Magidson 2005) to estimate all LC cluster models.

In the second-stage model, I used chi-squared goodness-of-fit tests to identify significant predictors of LC membership patterns and merge predictor categories that did not differ in their prediction of the dependent variables (Magidson & Vermunt 2005). Covariates I tested as potential predictors were age; gender; region of residence; sector (academic or other); discipline (biological sciences or other); h index; and journal from which the respondent was drawn in the sample. I used the Chi-Squared Automatic Interaction Detection (CHAID) software (Magidson 2005) to systematically test all possible combinations of predictor variables and identify all those that were statistically significant.


Understanding of Loss of Biological Diversity

 [5] Respondents were unanimous (99.5%) in their view that it is likely a serious loss of biological diversity is underway at a global extent; 8.4%, 24.9%, and 66.2% thought that serious loss is likely, very likely, or virtually certain, respectively (Table 1). There was even greater consensus (79.1%) that human activities are virtually certainly accelerating the loss of biological diversity. By comparison, 61.9% and 55.1% thought climate change (presented as “global warming” in the survey to match language used by Rosenberg et al. [2010]) is a process that is already underway and that humans are accelerating it, respectively. This is consistent with results from Rosenberg et al. (2010), who found that in 2005, 61.6% and 49.2% of U.S. climate scientists strongly agreed that climate change was already underway and that human activities were accelerating climate change, respectively. The majority of respondents agreed (58.1%) or strongly agreed (14.6%) that the nature and causes of loss of biological diversity are highly understood (Supporting Information). Scientists agreed (35.5%) or strongly agreed (6.2%) that the consequences of the loss of biological diversity are highly understood.

Table 1.  Respondents’ (n= 583) estimates of probabilities that loss of biological diversity and climate change are occurring and being accelerated by human activities.a
Statement about biological diversity or climate change Virtually impossible Very unlikely Unlikely About an even chance Likely Very likely Virtually certain
  1. aLanguage recommended by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (Morgan et al. 2009): virtually impossible, ≤0.01 probability; very unlikely, approximately 0.01–0.20 probability; unlikely, less than even chance (i.e., 0.20–0.50 probability); about an even chance, approximately 0.50 ± 0.05 probability; likely, very likely, and virtually certain, 0.50–0.80, 0.80–0.99, and ≥0.99 probabilities, respectively.

  2. bStatement was retained as a covariate in a latent-class cluster analysis of scientific understanding of loss of biological diversity.

A serious loss of biological diversity is underway at the global scaleb 0.000 0.000 0.003 0.002 0.084 0.249 0.662
Human activities are accelerating the loss of biological diversity at the global scale 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.003 0.033 0.173 0.791
Global warming is a process that is already underwayb 0.000 0.002 0.003 0.026 0.077 0.273 0.619
Human activities are accelerating global warmingb 0.000 0.002 0.002 0.012 0.115 0.319 0.551

The 5-class LC cluster model minimized BIC and was chosen for further refinement. One bivariate residual was significant at the 5% level, indicating some redundancy between the 2 climate-change indicators. Dropping one statement (“Global warming is a process that is already underway.”) from the model eliminated the significant bivariate residual. The final model (n= 582, 44 parameters, entropy R2= 0.78, classification error = 10.2%) cleaved the sample into five distinct clusters (Fig. 1): alarmed, concerned, science optimists, moderates, and science pessimists. All LC cluster analyses were conducted with data from only 582 of 583 respondents because I dropped one invalid response.

Figure 1. Membership in latent-class clusters (y-axis) on the basis of scientists’ understanding of loss of biological diversity (1, virtually impossible; 2, very unlikely; 3, unlikely; 4, about an even chance; 5, likely; 6, very likely; 7, virtually certain; SD, strongly disagree; D, disagree; N, neither agree nor disagree; A, agree; and SA, strongly agree; complete statements: indicator 1, A serious loss of biological diversity is underway at the global scale. 2, Human activities are accelerating the loss of biological diversity at the global scale. 3, Human activities are accelerating global warming. 4, Scientists have a strong understanding of the nature and causes of changes in biological diversity. 5, Scientists have a strong understanding of the consequences of changes in biological diversity.).


Cluster 1, alarmed, contained 60.8% of the sample. Respondents in this cluster were very (8.9%) or virtually (91.9%) certain that a serious loss of biological diversity is underway and every respondent believed human activities are accelerating the loss. Those in cluster 2 (22.4% of the sample), concerned, expressed similar views as those in the alarmed cluster, but they were more measured in their views of the level of seriousness of biological diversity loss and human activities as drivers of that loss (and climate change). LC clusters 3 (7.0%, science optimists) and 5 (4.2%, science pessimists) held very similar views to each other on the seriousness of biological diversity loss, but they differed greatly on their views of scientists’ understanding of the causes and effects of that loss. Cluster 4 (5.6%, moderates) respondents were more measured in all their responses.

In the subsequent CHAID analysis, only publication in Conservation Biology explained significant variation (χ2= 10.94, df = 4, p= 0.03) in probability of membership in LC clusters (Supporting Information). Respondents who had published in Conservation Biology were more likely to belong to alarmed, science optimists, and science pessimists clusters. The common theme among these three clusters was that 100% of respondents viewed a serious loss of biological diversity as very likely or virtually certain.

Geographic and Temporal Scope of Loss of Biological Diversity

I asked respondents to provide only answers for regions and major ecosystem types with which they were familiar. I interpreted no response as do not know. For regions or ecosystems where respondents thought loss of biological diversity was very likely or virtually certain, I asked a follow-up question regarding the timing of loss. Respondents’ agreement that serious biological diversity loss was very likely or virtually certain ranged from lows of 72.8% (27.0% very likely, 45.8% virtually certain) for Western Europe to highs of 90.9% (33.0% very likely, 57.9% virtually certain) for Southeast Asia (Supporting Information).

The ecosystem respondents viewed as most seriously affected by loss of biological diversity was marine tropical coral; 38.7% and 49.3% believed that a serious loss of biological diversity in marine tropical coral is very likely or virtually certain, respectively (Supporting Information). Tropical moist and dry broadleaf forest and mangrove ecosystems were also viewed as subject to serious levels of loss (loss virtually certain = 47.4%, 44.6%, and 40.6%, respectively), whereas serious losses of biological diversity in marine upwelling ecosystems was viewed as virtually certain by 17.9% of respondents.

Opinions on the timing of the most serious losses in biological diversity over and within the range of ecosystems were broad (Supporting Information). Generally, respondents thought serious losses of biological diversity in freshwater and temperate terrestrial ecosystems tended to occur more in the past relative to tropical and polar ecosystems.

Conservation Values and Priorities

All 583 respondents completed 16 BWS ranking questions (Table 2). Mean scores, which represent likelihood of being chosen as the statement that respondents most agreed with, summed to 100. An item with a mean score of 6 was thus twice as likely to be chosen as that most agreed with by respondents as an item with a mean score of 3. The distribution of mean scores exhibited some discontinuity. The two statements with the highest rank had significantly higher levels of agreement (95% CI of 6.824–7.084 for “Conservation planning needs to understand how people and nature interact in particular places.” and 6.275–6.633 for “Biological diversity should be conserved because it sustains ecosystem function.”) than the statement ranked third (95% CI of 5.041–5.434 for “Conservation priorities should reflect the need to protect globally important species and ecosystems.”). Respondents were very unlikely to select the two statements with the lowest rank as ones they most agreed with (95% CI of 0.543–0.765 for “The value of biological diversity depends on its usefulness to people.” and of 0.371–0.483 for “Long-term residents should be displaced from protected areas if conservation needs warrant.” Other statements filled the gradient between the extremes (Supporting Information).

Table 2.  Statements of conservation values, priorities, strategies, or actions that respondents agreed with most and least.
Statement and overall rank of statement Times statement shown to respondents Times selected as most agreed with (%) Times selected as least agreed with (%) Likelihood of selection as most agreed with (%), 95% CI%
1. Conservation planning needs to understand how people and nature interact in particular places. 1166 649 (55.7) 49 (4.2) 6.824–7.084
2. Biological diversity should be conserved because it sustains ecosystem function. 1166 607 (52.1) 75 (6.4) 6.275–6.633
3. Conservation priorities should reflect the need to protect globally important species and ecosystems. 1168 483 (41.4) 122 (10.4) 5.041–5.434
4. Conservation success demands significant changes in human population growth. 1162 514 (44.2) 168 (14.5) 4.880–5.407
5. People should be offered incentives to change their behavior to conserve species and ecosystems. 1166 465 (39.9) 139 (11.9) 4.863–5.280
6. Conservation should prevent the human-caused extinction of species. 1170 447 (38.2) 128 (10.9) 4.808–5.193
7. The best way to understand what works in conservation is through the systematic comparative analysis of multiple cases or experiments. 1164 435 (37.4) 141 (12.1) 4.586–4.963
8. Conservation efforts should also address poverty alleviation. 1170 384 (32.8) 204 (17.4) 3.882–4.366
9. Science should be used to determine—not simply inform—policy and management decisions affecting biological diversity. 1156 395 (34.2) 277 (24.0) 3.806–4.341
10. Humans have a moral duty to conserve biological diversity. 1169 377 (32.2) 209 (17.9) 3.721–4.183
11. People should be made to change their behavior to conserve species and ecosystems. 1169 362 (31.0) 221 (18.9) 3.618–4.055
12. Conservation success demands dramatic changes in life-styles of the world's rich. 1167 363 (31.1) 256 (21.9) 3.541–4.042
13. Conservation planning should concentrate on key priorities, instead of spreading effort across all locations. 1167 311 (26.6) 184 (15.8) 3.303–3.685
14. Conservation effort should be focused on creating protected areas of high biological diversity. 1173 306 (26.1) 207 (17.6) 3.261–3.661
15. To be effective, conservation planning must be done locally. 1170 312 (26.7) 208 (17.8) 3.251–3.651
16. All species have a right to exist. 1165 275 (23.6) 275 (23.6) 3.001–3.454
17. Successful conservation demands the strict enforcement of regulations and laws. 1169 291 (24.9) 257 (22.0) 2.970–3.406
18. Biological diversity should be conserved because of its potential future values. 1166 275 (23.6) 255 (21.9) 2.692–3.059
19. Conservation action should be focused on areas where it can be most cost-effective. 1164 256 (22.0) 312 (26.8) 2.418–2.811
20. Conservation action is needed in areas extensively modified by human activity. 1172 238 (20.3) 286 (24.4) 2.353–2.708
21. Conservation success demands the de-carbonization of the global economy. 1167 217 (18.6) 318 (27.2) 2.253–2.643
22. There should be conservation areas free from any human influence. 1162 210 (18.1) 358 (30.8) 2.017–2.390
23. Biological diversity should be conserved to ensure human survival. 1162 224 (19.3) 381 (32.8) 2.008–2.411
24. The best way to understand what works in conservation is the in-depth study of individual cases. 1163 169 (14.5) 292 (25.1) 1.798–2.087
25. Effective conservation planning must be based on geographic information science. 1177 174 (14.8) 347 (29.5) 1.617–1.901
26. Conservation priorities should be set by the people most affected by them. 1166 122 (10.5) 435 (37.3) 1.195–1.484
27. Biological diversity should be conserved because of its cultural and spiritual value. 1161 106 (9.1) 359 (30.9) 1.149–1.375
28. Trade in wild species and their products can work as a tool for conservation. 1171 89 (7.6) 522 (44.6) 0.813–1.038
29. Conservation must do no harm to human communities. 1158 80 (6.9) 517 (44.6) 0.730–0.933
30. Biological diversity should be conserved because of the beauty of nature. 1164 69 (5.9) 530 (45.5) 0.654–0.834
31. The value of biological diversity depends on its usefulness to people. 1157 88 (7.6) 672 (58.1) 0.543–0.765
32. Long-term residents should be displaced from protected areas if conservation needs warrant. 1165 35 (3.0) 624 (53.6) 0.371–0.483

Management and Policy Opinions

The 17 statements about conservation interventions, triage, and the management of biological diversity were used in a LC analysis of respondents’ conservation-strategy orientation. A 6-class LC cluster model minimized BIC. Twenty-one bivariate residuals were significant at the 5% level in the first model, indicating substantial local dependence among the conservation-strategy indicators. I sequentially deleted eight indicators (statements 3.2, 3.2, 1.4, 3.6, 3.1, 2.2, 2.4, and 3.4) to eliminate all significant bivariate residuals. The final model (n= 582 respondents, 86 parameters) was well supported by the data (entropy R2= 0.73, classification error = 14.3%). The classes (Fig. 2) were indicative of the diversity of opinions held by scientists on strategic approaches to conservation. The indicator variables dropped from the analysis are fully described in Supporting Information.

Figure 2. Membership in latent-class clusters (y-axis) on the basis of scientists’ level of agreement with potentially controversial conservation management strategies (cluster 6, protesters [n =3], not included) (SD, strongly disagree; D, disagree; N, neither agree nor disagree; A, agree; SA, strongly agree; full statements with which respondents were presented: 1.1, “We should be helping species adapt by letting them stay natural and letting the processes go as they will as climate changes.” 1.2, “Assisted migration interventions are doomed to failure. Our history of biological manipulation has not gone well and there is no reason to think that future manipulations will go better.” 1.3, “Climate change is going to force our hand. We need to use assisted migration to move species that can't get around urban and agricultural barriers to places where they are going to be more likely to persist.” 1.5, “We don't have the framework for tolerating loss. We have to figure out, for critical ecosystems to start with, what are the minimum number of species within functional groups that are essential for ecosystem services? We need to protect them even if we lose others.” 2.1, “Inevitably one has to make some harsh decisions such as what you give up on. No doubt there will be species that we should and will give up on.” 2.3, “We have spent tons of money trying to save some icon species. If we went purely from a triage perspective, we would have let those species go extinct. But if an icon species can attract extra money for conservation, it is not taking resources from other conservation programs. Triage could thus harm conservation efforts by limiting our capacity to raise money.” 2.5, “We cannot justify major triage choices because we don't know the role of particular species in ecosystems.” 3.5, “We need more rules, better monitoring, increased enforcement, and larger fines. Making damaging human behavior illegal and expensive is central to any strategy meant to protect biological diversity.” 3.7, “Conserving biological diversity in an era of climate change means conservation professionals need to be willing to rethink conservation goals and standards of success.”).


One cluster, mainstream moderates, composed 43.2% of the sample; respondents in this cluster tended to be relatively neutral on most statements. The distinguishing characteristics of a second naturally oriented cluster (32.0% of the sample) was respondents’ relatively strong focus on helping species stay natural (indicator 1.1 [“We should be helping species adapt by letting them stay natural and letting the processes go as they will as climate changes.”]), pessimism regarding assisted migration (indicators 1.3 [“Climate change is going to force our hand. We need to use assisted migration to move species that can't get around urban and agricultural barriers to places where they are going to be more likely to persist.”] and 1.5 [“We don't have the framework for tolerating loss. We have to figure out, for critical ecosystems to start with, what are the minimum number of species within functional groups that are essential for ecosystem services? We need to protect them even if we lose others.”]), and unwillingness to protect some species at the expense of others (indicator 2.1 [“Inevitably one has to make some harsh decisions such as what you give up on. No doubt there will be species that we should and will give up on.”]). Respondents in this cluster were relatively neutral on triage issues.

Respondents in the third cluster (13.2% of the sample), interventionists, were more supportive of direct conservation interventions. They strongly agreed that conservation goals needed rethinking (indicator 3.7 [“Conserving biological diversity in an era of climate change means that conservation professionals need to be willing to rethink conservation goals and standards of success.”]), that the use of triage should not be discounted because of a lack of ecological knowledge (indicator 2.5 [“We cannot justify major triage choices because we don't know the role of particular species in ecosystems.”]), and that conservation actions should not be taken for some species (indicator 2.1). Although they were supportive of assisted migration, they also expressed some pessimism about the probability of success of this strategy (indicators 1.2 [“Assisted migration interventions are doomed to failure. Our history of biological manipulation has not gone well and there is no reason to think that future manipulations will go better.”] and 1.5).

Respondents in cluster 4, preservationists, did not agree with assisted migration (indicator 1.3), disagreed that some species should be protected at the expense of others (indicators 1.5 and 2.1), and were supportive of more regulation of human behavior (indicator 3.5 [“We need more rules, better monitoring, increased enforcement, and larger fines. Making damaging human behavior illegal and expensive is central to any strategy meant to protect biological diversity.”]).

Respondents in cluster 5 (4.0% of the sample), conservationists, did not agree that some species should be protected at the expense of others (indicators 1.5 and 2.1), were supportive of assisted migration efforts (indicators 1.2 and 1.3), skeptical of triage (indicators 2.3 [“We have spent tons of money trying to save some icon species. If we went purely from a triage perspective, we would have let those species go extinct. But if an icon species can attract extra money for conservation, it is not taking resources from other conservation programs. Triage could thus harm conservation efforts by limiting our capacity to raise money.”] and 2.5), and were quite supportive of more conservation rules and their enforcement (indicator 3.5). Only three respondents were in cluster 6, protestors. They strongly disagreed with most statements and either did not pay attention to survey questions or were exhibiting protest responses because they did not like the questions. Their responses are not included in Fig. 2.

Opinions regarding effective conservation strategies differed significantly (χ2= 23.25, df = 5, p= 0.01) among residents of the following 2 groups of countries or regions: (1) Africa, Asia, and Europe and (2) Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, North America, Latin America, and Caribbean. Membership in the interventionist cluster was over 10% higher for scientists from the second group, whereas scientists from the first group were 6.8% more likely to be members of the preservationist cluster (Supporting Information). No other significant differences in the predictive ability of any of the professional or demographic covariates in the model were detected. Alternatively, opinions regarding conservation strategies differed significantly on the basis of h index (χ2= 16.29, df = 5, p= 0.09). Scientists with h≥ 13 were almost 12% less likely to be members of the naturally-oriented cluster and almost 9% more likely to be members of the interventionist cluster than scientists with h < 13 (Supporting Information).


Understanding of Loss of Biological Diversity

 [6] There was striking agreement among scientists on the overall extent and geographic scope of the loss of biological diversity but a lower degree of consensus on the timing of the most serious losses in different regions. Rosenberg et al. (2010) found a similar pattern among climate scientists, who agreed on core issues of the nature and causes of climate change regardless of professional or demographic characteristics but agreed less on timelines for significant impacts in specific regions. The degree of convergence in expert opinion can be important to policy makers because it can provide important information about ecological certainties and uncertainties, and the likely outcome of different policy options (Lubchenco 1998; Anderegg et al. 2010). Convergence of expert opinion may help eliminate policy options that are not supported by scientific consensus (Rudd 2011).I identified five distinct clusters of scientists for whom opinions on scientific understanding regarding biological diversity loss varied significantly. The only covariate that was significantly associated with cluster membership was whether the survey respondent had published an article in Conservation Biology. This journal may draw more authors that view global losses of biological diversity as a major societal challenge. Survey results showed that scientists’ opinions regarding the loss of biological diversity could not be predicted on the basis of any other observable demographic or professional characteristics. This suggests a high overall degree of cohesiveness of core values within clusters of scientists.

Conservation Values and Priorities

 [7] Sandbrook et al. (2011) found that young conservation scientists (n= 64) hold a plurality of values and opinions. My survey sampled a much broader range of conservation professionals at all career levels. Respondents, in aggregate, placed a high level of importance on context-dependent understanding of how people and nature interact. They also ranked the “role of biological diversity in maintaining ecosystem function” highly. This phrase, used by Sandbrook et al. (2011), was likely interpreted in the context of species and populations by respondents in my survey. Other high-ranking items focused on goals (protecting globally important species and ecosystems, preventing human-caused extinction), methods (comparative analysis of multiple cases or experiments), and social factors (limiting human population growth and using incentives to alter behavior). Respondents placed less emphasis on protecting biological diversity because of its cultural or spiritual values or because of its usefulness to humans.Sandbrook et al. (2011) identified four distinct value-based segments of young conservation scientists in their survey. The ranking of statements by scientists in my survey reflects elements of Sandbrook et al.'s biocentric respondent grouping. Those biocentric respondents are characterized by agreement that conservation requires changes in human population growth (ranked 4 in my analyses) and must be context dependent (ranked 1 here). Respondents in Sandbrook's biocentric group disagreed that trade in wild animals could be an effective conservation tool (ranked 28 here) and that the value of biological diversity depends on its usefulness to people (ranked 31 here).Statement rankings (Table 2) in my study identified some potentially controversial topics. For example, the statement ranked ninth overall in times selected as most agreed with (“Science should be used to determine—not simply inform—policy.”) was also chosen as the least agreed with statement 24.0% of the times it was shown. It is not until one reaches the nineteenth ranked statement that there is another statement that garners as many negative rankings.

Management and Policy Opinions

 [8] I highlight 3 points from the overall responses to statements regarding potentially controversial conservation strategies. First, discussion of the concept of triage has long been considered off limits among some conservation scientists (Marris 2007). Results from my survey demonstrate, however, that many scientists are potentially supportive of triage and prioritization efforts. For example, 50.3% and 9.3% of scientists agree or strongly agree, respectively, with the statement “Species and ecosystems are going to unravel so it is important that the conservation community considers criteria for triage decisions. If we don’t, ad hoc decisions could be even worse.”Hagerman et al. (2010) also recently found a willingness among conservation professionals to openly discuss triage issues. They argue it is time to move beyond outright rejection of triage. Results from my survey suggest that a shift in attitude may have already happened or that it always existed.Second, there seemed to be relatively modest agreement among respondents on the need to integrate ecology and economic analyses (41.5% agree or strongly agree, 26.2% neither agree nor disagree, 32.3% disagree or strongly disagree with the statement, “Economic valuation of species and ecosystems is essential for better societal decision-making.”) and some skepticism regarding the feasibility of integrated analyses (56.2% agree or strongly agree, 27.6% neither agree nor disagree, 16.2% disagree or strongly disagree with “Commoditization of species and ecosystems is inherently dangerous because it does not, and cannot, consider irreplaceable functions of biological diversity.” 47.4% agree or strongly agree, 18.5% neither agree nor disagree, 33.1% disagree or strongly disagree with “Biologists and economists cannot realistically link ecosystem function to economic value. This is a major weakness with current widespread adoption of the ecosystem services framework.”). Treating species and ecosystems as commodities was generally viewed negatively (56.2% agree or strongly agree, 27.6% neither agree nor disagree, 16.2% disagree or strongly disagree with “Commoditization of species and ecosystems is inherently dangerous because it does not, and cannot, consider irreplaceable functions of biological diversity.”), and respondents expressed relatively heavy support for rules and enforcement (64.1% agree or strongly agree, 21.3% neither agree nor disagree, 14.6% disagree or strongly disagree with “We need more rules, better monitoring, increased enforcement, and larger fines. Making damaging human behavior illegal and expensive is central to any strategy meant to protect biological diversity.”). In addition, there was a relatively high level of agreement that the species with highest probabilities of extinction and ecosystems with highest probability of land-cover conversion should receive the highest levels of investment (41.7% agree or strongly agree, 31.4% neither agree nor disagree, 26.9% disagree or strongly disagree with “The most vulnerable species and ecosystems should receive the highest levels of investment precisely because of their vulnerability.”). This is potentially in contrast to supporting comparison of marginal costs and benefits to guide investment decisions. Seen in conjunction with results from Sandbrook et al.'s (2011) ranking exercise, these results suggest scientists do not fully support the ecosystem-services concept (TEEB 2010).Third, the majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that conservational professionals need to be willing to rethink conservation goals and standards of success (82.0% agree or strongly agree, 13.7% neither agree nor disagree, 4.3% disagree or strongly disagree with “Conserving biological diversity in an era of climate change means that conservation professionals need to be willing to rethink conservation goals and standards of success.”). Hagerman et al. (2010) noted that climate change offered an opportunity to expand conservation goals and potentially transform conservation policy. They point out substantive change can take time and may require the critical mass of a new generation. Results from my survey suggest there is, however, already widespread belief that substantive change in conservation goals is needed. Five clusters differentiated scientists’ views on controversial conservation strategies. The interventionist cluster was central to the division of opinions on the basis of scientific standing; scientists with h≥ 13 were more likely than those with h < 13 to belong to the interventionist segment and less likely to belong to the naturally oriented cluster. Senior scientists may be more open than junior scientists to redefining conservation goals. The paucity of other significant covariates suggests scientists’ core values are driving their opinions regarding preferred management options and that those values are not reflected in their demographic characteristics or professional training.The key message of my results is that there is overwhelming agreement on the overall extent and geographic scope of loss of biological diversity among scientists with diverse professional and demographic characteristics. The degree of consensus regarding the loss of biological diversity is, in fact, much higher than the degree of consensus for the existence of anthropogenic climate change among climate scientists (Rosenberg et al. 2010). It may soon be possible to assess whether scientists’ opinions on the magnitude and timing of loss coincide with new scenario models of loss of biological diversity (Pereira et al. 2010).The degree of consensus on the magnitude of current and projected losses of biological diversity may increase policy makers’ level of confidence that investments in scientific modeling, monitoring, restoration, and institutional reform are warranted. Given the perceived severity of loss of biological diversity, scientists may be willing to discuss potentially contentious conservation options. A willingness to engage in wide-ranging discussions of these options could give policy makers more ideas and latitude with regard to conservation issues. It seems particularly timely that now, as Conservation Biology celebrates its 25th anniversary, we could be on the cusp of a period of evolution in thinking about how conservation goals might be redefined and realized as the effects of human activities and climate change escalate rapidly.

Category: Research Sources | Comments: 0 | Rate:
0 Votes
You have rated this item.
umraniye escort pendik escort