For the "good of the lab": Insights from three focus groups concerning the ethics of managing a laboratory or research group.
To obtain some exploratory, qualitative data on ethical issues and values in managing a research laboratory, we conducted three focus groups with experienced investigators and laboratory managers. After validating the focus group transcripts for accuracy, two coders used deductive and inductive coding to develop themes from the text. Participants regarded ethics as important in managing a laboratory (or research group) for various reasons, ranging from conducting research with integrity to exhibiting leadership and promoting an ethical research climate. Participants identified many different types of ethical issues that arise in managing a research laboratory, including issues involving the management people, financial and material resources, projects, and data. An overarching ethical dilemma identified by participants was balancing the desire for productivity against apparently competing values, such as treating people fairly and promoting the wellbeing of individuals. Participants also indicated that graduate and post-graduate education and training did not prepare them to deal with the ethical, financial, interpersonal, and other issues related to managing a research laboratory, and that communication and leadership are crucial to managing a research laboratory ethically.