Ethics, values and culture driving research

Welcome to this Special Issue of EuroScientist on: Ethics, values and culture driving research!

This issue will dive into the darkest corner of what scientific minds are capable of contriving to get to the goal of being funded and progressing in their career.

Some among the fundamental science practitioners, influenced by philosophers of science, denounce the very fact that the current system is merely self-sustaining. And it does not necessarily reveal solutions to the urgent problems that societies would need to address. They see little point in a system designed to employ a growing number of scientists, who, in turn, will generate work that would need to be good enough to justify the award of the next funding and support scientists’ career progression. They argue that there is more to science than what has become a mere survival process.

This current survival scenario, subjected to the implacable diktat of the ‘publish or perish’ motto, is starting to show some cracks in the form of fraud and misconduct. The increased level of detection of scientists failing to observe the self-imposed code of conduct, which was previously a tactic rule, is not without consequences. Institutions have now produced written guidelines by which scientists are expected to abide. In parallel, publishers rely on fraud detection software to identify any potential computer-generated research papers and other forms of plagiarism or fiddling with data.

By reading the issue below, you will find out the damage inflicted on science by scientists neglecting to follow the very essence of scientific endeavour, based on integrity. One lesson is clear. Regardless of personal responsibility, it is essential to examine the failings of the scientific process in the context of the values and the culture influencing scientists.

If you wish to read this issue as a single PDF file, please refer to our print edition.


Gaming the system: who is responsible?

By Sabine Louët, Editor, EuroScientist.

Finding the ethics needle in research haystack

From fraudsters to fudgers: research integrity is on trial

By Arran Frood, science journalist, UK.

Exclusive interview: The pressures making scientists go off-piste: Nicholas Steneck, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, USA. Part of ESOF 2014 special sponsored advance coverage

By Sabine Louët, Editor, EuroScientist.

Publish or perish: an incitement to fraudulence

By Cyril Labbé, Joseph Fourier University, France.

The culture and values influencing science

Is the culture of research encouraging good science?

By Catherine Joynson, Nuffield Council on Bioethics, UK.

Have we reached the twilight of the fundamental science era?

By Martín López Corredoira, Staff researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Tenerife, Spain.

See also our previous coverage on related topic:

Scientists’ dreams: a society supporting science and respecting its autonomy

By Hans Peter Peters, Research Centre Jülich, Germany.

The public perception on misdemeanours in research

Does media coverage of research misconduct affect public confidence in science? Part of ESOF 2014 special sponsored advance coverage

By Maria Lindholm and colleagues, Vetenskap & Allmänhet, Sweden.

Science communication: putting the cart before the horses

By Jens Degett, science journalist, Denmark.

See also our previous coverage on related topic

The abuse of science

By Gerry Byrne, science journalist, Ireland.

The brownie point: when artistic values drive research

Shrinking humans: an artist's perspective on the sustainability challenge

By Arne Hendriks, artist, Netherlands.

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Featured image credit: CC BY 2.0 by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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2 thoughts on “Ethics, values and culture driving research”

  1. At the current rate, the future does not bode well for convincing people of the efficacy of science when increasing doubts about the scientific community’s lack of rigour and scrutiny may be conflated with the scientific method itself as a reliable tool for measuring a truer picture of physical reality, to put aside its inherent limits for the moment.

  2. An excellent issue – well done!

    This is an area which has concerned me for some time. There is of course another dimension, that of proportionality.

    There are so many attaining elevated academic qualifications with little commitment in real terms (if not by overtly fraudulent means) that such qualifications are becoming increasingly meaningless. In addition, the sheer number of people publishing works which are, at best, a re-hash and realignment of existing knowledge, has muddied the water in terms of published output and, in particular, the relative worth of much current research. One might argue that a very large proportion of so called ‘research’ is actually completely worthless – and yet this forms the basis for many qualifications.

    Lastly, I have detected an increasing arrogance among contemporary academics which is contrary to the spirit of genuine research. This is most notable among the plethora of ‘professors’ surfacing now who quite obviously have little understanding of their own areas of expertise, let alone a wider scientific sympathy.

    This reality is painting a bad picture of science which, in turn, masks those who ARE genuinely undertaking original research. Unfortunately, we live in an age of pretence which, sadly, has extended into academia.

    I hope that you follow this issue up with more thoughts on the ethics within academia and the place of science in the 21st century.

    Best wishes,