Is there a general rule about what a postdoc or graduate student can or cannot refuse to do because of personal convictions?
I assume that there must be institution-specific rules, but also maybe legally defined limits? I know that (fortunately!) in most countries, a supervisor cannot "force" a student or postdoc to do something that goes against their religious convictions, for example, but there can be grey areas that are not as protected as religious belief; what about personal opinions and life choices?
For example, I am wondering if personal convictions are a valid and protected reason to refuse:
- Experimenting on animals
- Applying for defense/military funding (e.g. DARPA)
- Collaborating with companies with discutable ethics
- Working on any type of dual use research
- Conducting experiments that generate significant amounts of pollution
Most of the time this kind of ethics dilemma can be avoided by carefully choosing a laboratory. But not always - money can be tight, reviewers can ask for animal validations after submission... So I am wondering if there is a rule of thumb for determining what is a "reasonable" reason to refuse an academic project based on moral arguments.