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Caroline Whitbeck Elmer G. Beamer-Hubert H. Schneider Emerita Professor in Ethics Case Western Reserve University Case Western Reserve University More Posts
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Your Supervisor's Recommendation for a Job
Secondary Title Your Supervisor's Recommendation for a Job


A scenario meant to stimulate discussion about the ethical issues that arise in the supervisor-trainee relationship; namely, a student is worried about the recommendation his advisor will write given present setbacks in his research.

As a graduate student you have been working for Dr. Supervisor for four years. In the initial years the research went smoothly. But in the last two there were numerous problems and delays. You have spent a lot of time pursuing various hypotheses suggested by Supervisor and think the setbacks were due to the multiple avenues that Dr. Supervisor wanted you to try simultaneously. You are concerned that Dr. Supervisor now questions your ability.

Now it is time for you to graduate and you are worried that the recommendation that Dr. Supervisor writes will reflect only the recent setbacks. Also, Dr. Supervisor wants you to aim low. That is, he wants you to apply for less demanding jobs and positions. You want to aim high.

How should you handle the situation?

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Contributor(s) Caroline Whitbeck
Notes Caroline Whitbeck introduced methods and modules for discussing numerous issues in responsible conduct of research at a Sigma Xi Forum in 2000. Partial funding for the development of this material came from an NIH grant. You can find the entire sequence on the OEC at Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society’s code that is referred to in an item. If you have suggestions for updates, please contact the OEC.
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Year 2000
Publisher National Academy of Engineering, Online Ethics Center
Language English
  • Using Case Studies Bibliography


    This bibliography includes examples of different ways instructors have used case studies to introduce ethical topics to their students and resources for finding cases and incorporating them into the classroom.

    Author(s) Kelly Laas
    Year 2016
  • Added08/23/2006

    In this essay, Dr. Whitbeck outlines an 'agent-centered' approach to learning ethics. The central aim is to prepare students to act wisely and responsibly when faced with moral problems. She provides a number of examples and cases with descriptions of questions and directions for promoting student participation and stimulating thought and discussion.

    Year 1995
Cite this page: "Your Supervisor's Recommendation for a Job" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 9/11/2006 OEC Accessed: Thursday, December 8, 2016 <>