Macchiarini scandal: overstepping the research ethics mark

A star scientist overstating the outcome of his pioneering transplant experiments may be worrying. But when these experiments are performed in humans, used a guinea pigs, before laboratory research proves the validity of the approach, we have a recipe for disaster. The recent Macchiarini scandal has led to one of the most shocking case of scientific misconduct in recent years. It reveals a lot about the vanity culture pervading some fields of research. Our outlook on what constitutes success in research may need to be revised. Read more [...]

Sheila Jasanoff: framing research with citizens’ perspectives

In this interview, Sheila Jasanoff, expert of the 'science of looking at science' from Harvard Kennedy School, warns that regulatory bodies alone cannot take decisions on thorny contemporary scientific issues, such as how to regulate the CRISPR gene editing technology, without involving society at large. She explains how the first order of framing research with society's input is crucial for the future of science before even framing the problems to solve in scientific terms. This approach also implies putting oneself in the shoes of the people objecting to the results of scientific research. Read more [...]

Can ethics training improve the quality of research?

Critiques are increasingly challenging the way research is being performed. Recent scandals revealing scientific fraud have made media headlines. Meanwhile, some are challenging the established ways of measuring research. It appears that research integrity is not sufficiently ingrained in the current practice of science. So much so, that it sometimes appear like an unattainable goal. To remedy this problem, some believe that part of the solution lies in making research integrity training compulsory, even though it is far from being a magic bullet. Read more [...]

Navigating SSH research integrity straits: between Scylla and Charybdis

Is social sciences and humanity (SSH) research, by nature, the domain of blatant misconduct? Drawing the line between acceptable and contemptible behaviour is a much more complicated matter in the SSH than in the other sciences. It may require a revision of the principles governing research to provide a solid basis for enforcing good practices. In this opinion piece, Ioana Galleron, who is chair of the European Network for Research Evaluation in Social Sciences and Humanities (ENRESSH), an European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action, shares her perspective on this thorny issue. Read more [...]

Shaping tomorrow’s research integrity

The ultimate responsibility for good research practice lies with individual researchers. However, such practice can only flourish in a favourable research and funding environment. According to the findings of the latest report from Science Europe, who surveyed its members on research integrity policies and practice, there are still a number of measures that research organisations and funding agencies can take to guarantee a higher level of research integrity. Read on to learn about the Science Europe working group findings and recommendations. Read more [...]

What funding agencies and journals can do to prevent sloppy science

In May 2017, the 5th World Conference on Research Integrity will take place in Amsterdam. It will provide an opportunity to discuss concrete actions that can be adopted by funding angencies and scientific journals to improve the overall quality and integrity of research. In this opinion piece, Lex Bouter, professor of methodology and integrity at VU University Medical Center in The Netherlands sets the scene for the conference. Read more [...]

Endangered Waters: saving Europe’s most iconic fish species

A network of young scientists demonstrated that they have a unique role to play in helping to protect endangered fish species. Specifically, they are involved in developing better production strategies for salmon, eels and sturgeons, under the umbrella of a European project called IMPRESS. To develop conservation solutions through innovative research, they seek to pair their research objectives with understanding the needs of fishing communities and conservation policy makers. This example shows the potential for evidence-based policies can make a difference to wild fish species. Read more [...]

Max Schrems interview: rebooting the culture of privacy in Europe

This week, the Austrian supreme court referred the question of the admissibility of a worldwide or European-wide class action against Facebook, initiated in Austria, to Europe’s top court in Luxemburg. In a podcast recorded in June 2016, Max Schrems, who led the class action, shares his view with EuroScientist on how best to protect the privacy of European citizens. Schrems previously became famous for another privacy protection challenge against Facebook's European headquarter in Ireland. As a result of his legal battle, the US-EU Safe Harbour Privacy Principles were deemed inadequate. Further, the Irish high court is expected to legislate in February 2017 on another challenge directed at the temporary replacement of the Safe Harbour rule. Read more [...]

Radical funding overhaul needed to empower researchers

Funding research effectively is a demanding exercise. Young scientists gathered in Bratislava in July 2016 published a wish list for a definite overhaul of the funding system. The key to the change is to empower researchers. The proposals will be annexed to the conclusions of the EU Competitiveness Council of research and innovation ministers and tabled for adoption at the Competitiveness Council on 29 November 2016 in Brussels. Read more [...]

Data Journalism Awards celebrate evidence-based questioning in our society

Data journalism has the potential to make reporting on scientific activities and innovation more accountable to society. In this article and podcast, EuroScientist covers the 2016 Data Journalism Award, recently held in Vienna, Austria. Find out more about the winning entries from Spain, Peru and the USA. In these projects, data analysis has helped uncover the varying cost of medicines across borders, the environmental and social impact of commodity mining and the extend of privacy loss due to US surveillance planes, respectively. These examples show how data journalism has the potential to bring scientific analysis to the practice of journalism, ultimately leading to more accountability and transparency in society. Read more [...]

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