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Data Science Ethos Project Provides Formal Model for Ethical Data Science Research

The West Hub is pleased to announce that the Academic Data Science Alliance (ADSA) has recently launched Data Science Ethos - an interactive, online tool for teaching and learning the ethical and societal impacts of data science.

“Data Science Ethos illustrates a familiar framework for working with data: the research lifecycle,” said ADSA Executive Director Micaela S. Parker. “At each stage of the lifecycle, users are presented with ethical lenses through which to consider the research: Positionality, Power, Narratives, and Sociotechnical Systems.”

The four lenses mentioned by Parker are interdependent: they account for asymmetries in agency (power) intersecting with the diversity of human experience (positionality) within a web of complex technologically-mediated relationships and institutions (sociotechnical systems), which are sustained by dominant discourses about how the world works and what futures are worth pursuing (narratives). These lenses are discussed in depth, with examples, before being applied to the stages. For each lens/stage combination, the student learns what questions to ask of themselves, the project, and the stakeholders and practice applying the stages-lenses combinations with case studies provided by data science community members, often drawn from real world research experiences.

“As a more true-to-life workflow for data science, Ethos prepares users - students, future data scientists and critical thinkers - to wield the power of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data science for societal benefit and ‘do no harm’,” Parker said. “Because we have just launched the Data Science Ethos, we are eager to hear feedback from the West Hub community regarding this fusion of ethics and data science.”

“The Data Science Ethos is an exciting new resource that can be utilized by members throughout the West Hub region grappling with data-related ethical and social considerations,” said West Hub Executive Director Ashley Atkins. “We encourage our community to explore and contribute to the Data Science Ethos.”

The intellectual foundations for the Ethos tool are described in a recent paper by Boenig-Liptsin et al. (2022). A feedback submission form for the Data Science Ethos is found here.


Margarita Boenig-Liptsin, Anissa Tanweer & Ari Edmundson (2022) Data Science Ethos Lifecycle: Interplay of Ethical Thinking and Data Science Practice, Journal of Statistics and Data Science Education, 30:3, 228-240, DOI:10.1080/26939169.2022.2089411

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