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Ethics & STICs ParisSaclay

Enrollment in this course is by invitation only

About This Course

What does integrity in research mean and why is it important to follow an ethical conduct when carrying your research work? “Doing what's good” is a matter of personal values, and it may not seem an appropriate topic for a university course. Shifting to a “doing what’s right” perspective introduces room for questioning: do I know what’s right? Upon entering a PhD programme, you are moving from a student’s position, where your main responsibility was to acquire and demonstrate acquisition of knowledge, into a position of producing knowledge. This creates new relationships with coworkers and your hosting institutions, new expectations in your ability to produce knowledge properly and new responsibilities towards science and society in general.

To help you understand these changes, and because regulatory texts now demand that all doctoral students be trained in research integrity and ethics, the STICs doctoral school of the University Paris-Saclay provides this course to all its students. It covers the following topics:

  • The Doctoral Contract (researcher as a subject under law and an employee),
  • Research Integrity (producing science correctly),
  • Research Ethics (producing science responsibly),
  • Computer and Information Ethics (how these apply to your research context),
  • Intellectual property (researcher as a producer and consumer of value),
  • Scientific Communication and Internet Ethics (disseminating knowledge publicly),
  • Privacy and Personal data (protecting our digital selves),
  • Emerging issues in Computer and Information Ethics (what’s next)

The course balances a pragmatic “must know” perspective, which can and must be acquired easily and fast, with more conceptual developments aimed at opening you up to the uncertainties and risks that are specific to your scientific domain. We hope those will trigger your interest and guide you along your career, because, as you’ll see, with the immense potential of Information Sciences and Technologies to transform our societies, come great responsibilities for the scientists who push them forward.


This course is addressed to all PhD students and researchers in Information & Communication Sciences & Technologies, with no particular prerequisites.

Course Staff

Thomas Baudel

Thomas Baudel

Research Director at the IBM France Lab and member-at-large of the STICs doctoral school of the University Paris-Saclay. An alumni of University of Paris-Sud, he has worked at Silicon Graphics, Alias|Wavefront, ILOG and IBM as a researcher in the industry. His research areas include Smarter Cities, Information Visualization and Human-Computer Interaction. Conducting research in a private company involves addressing many legal, ethical and deontological considerations, which made him want to share his experience with young researchers.

Christine Froidevaux

Christine Froidevaux

Professor in Computer Science at the University of Paris-Sud, member of the Bioinformatics group at the Laboratory of Computer Science LRI, head of the master of Bioinformatics at Paris-Saclay. Christine is a member of the commission de réflexion sur l'éthique de la recherche en science et technologies du numérique (CERNA), which has developed a curriculum in research integrity and ethics to address the challenges faced by doctoral students in digital technologies.

Arnaud Billion

Arnaud Billion

Arnaud Billion is specialized in International Copyright Law, graduated from King's College London and University of Strasbourg. He works as a referee for AI and IT ethics at IBM France Center for Advanced Studies, and operates several open innovation projects. His domains of interests encompass Intellectual Property Law applied to IT, Information Ethics and Computable Law.

Teaching assistants

As teaching assistants, some of your fellow doctoral students from the University of Paris-Saclay who have taken the course on an earlier session may intervene in the discussion forums. They have taken a keen interest in Information Ethics, as some of you will hopefully. They will guide you via the discussion forum, share their experience and interrogations, and invite you to do the same. Ethics is a social construct which is better learned through practice and discussion than through textbook reading. Our aim is that ultimately doctoral students get more and more involved into shaping up this course, and, by extension, the field of Information Ethics itself. So, feel free to volunteer as well once you have taken the class!

Other contributors

This course has benefited from the experience and feedback of many experts in the areas it covers. The course staff wishes to thank Alice René, responsible for bioethic regulation at CNRS, Max Dauchet, professor emeritus at the Université de Lille and president of the CERNA, Arnaud Billion, Researcher and Head of AI ethics at IBM France Lab, Jules-Marc Baudel, former member-at-large of the Paris bar association, Laurence Devillers, Research Director at LIMSI and member of the CERNA, Wendy Mackay, Research Director at INRIA, Michel Beaudouin-Lafon, professor at University of Paris-Sud, Nicole Bidoit, professor at University of Paris-Sud and head of the STICs doctoral school of University Paris-Saclay, Sophie Vuillet-Tavernier, director of public and research relations at CNIL, and Russell Owen, Engineering Manager at Lyft, for their numerous and insightful suggestions. It is to be understood that their assistance does not constitute an endorsement, and that the course staff endorses full responsibility of the course material provided therein.

We also thank the student beta-testers Steven De Oliveira and Maxime Martelli; Aylen Ricca, Cécile Moulin, Philip Tchernavskij and Ludovic David as former teaching assistants; and Manuela Luchtmeijer for her delightful illustrations of ethical questioning in sciences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What workload is expected from me ?

Our aim is that you can formally complete the course in 12 hours, which can be taken at your own pace over duration of the course. You are strongly encouraged to discuss the material presented, ask questions, present your own dilemma in the forum, and spend more time studying the references provided throughout the text, to reflect on their implications on your research.

How is the evaluation done?

The evaluation is focused on the “must know” part of the curriculum. It consists of about 100 multiple-choice questions. Those are meant to ensure the main rules and guidelines have been acquired, not to assess your ability to reason and develop critical thinking in this area, no matter how much we’d like to trigger that motivation.

What web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.

  1. Course Number

  2. Classes Start

    Jan 03, 2020
  3. Classes End

    Mar 20, 2020
  4. Estimated Effort