Ethics

All aspects of doing research with integrity and honesty are being discussed in this section

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 [...]

Robo Sapiens: a new legal person on the horizon?

The legal implications of the consequences of the actions of robots endowed with artificial intelligence are currently the object of discussion at the European Parliament. In this opinion piece, Orsolya Zara, legal and policy advisor to an MEP at the European Parliament, in Brussels, provides some insights into changes pertaining to robots liability that may need to be implemented in civil law. Read more [...]

The ethics of intervening in addicts’ lives

Philosophical puzzles apply in public health too. In addiction, there is a subtle balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual and the State. Particularly, when it comes to intervening in the lives of people addicted to substances such as tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Here, Julian Kinderlerer, professor of intellectual property law at Cape Town University, South Africa, who is also president of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), outlines all the facets of the ethical dilemma associated with State intervention towards addiction, and places the role of scientists and ethicists in informing a balanced debate. Read more [...]

Big Brother has a big brother: the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is the next evolution of the internet, connecting not just traditional web-enabled devices but also any kind of electrical appliance to the internet. This is typical of new waves of technology; the capabilities are outstripping our ability to fully understand their implications, much less prepare for them, particularly in terms of regulations. Despite numerous report warning of potential invasion to our privacy at an unprecedented level of granularity, little has been done to protect citizens’ right to live their lives without being monitored in every action they take. Read more [...]

When negative data fails patients by publication omission

Half of all clinical trials never see the light of day. There are regulations in Europe and the US; they are often ignored. But public pressure has begun to push the pharmaceutical industries to make trial data available. However, in a world where industry, clinicians and medical publishers are complicit in not having clinical trials published in full, it may be necessary to give ownership of clinical data back to patients to gain greater transparency and accountability. Read more [...]

Death in academia and the mis-measurement of science

Working in academia is not what it used to be. At least, when it comes to evaluation of work performance. Heightened and underhand pressure on academic performance, has led to the tragic death, last year, of an eminent professor from Imperial College, London, UK. Other academics across Europe have suffered the same fate, albeit these have only been documented anecdotally and did not receive the broader coverage English speaking publications affords. This raises questions concerning the pressures academics come under from academic institutions. These are run like businesses and are looking for unrealistic benchmarks, when it comes to research evaluation. Read more [...]

Forget citations for unbiased research evaluation

To what extent the success of scientific articles is due to social influence? A recent study analyses a data set of over 100,000 publications authored by more than 160,000 authors in the field of computer science. The authors provide the first large-scale study of the relation between the notion of centrality of authors in the co-authorship network and the future success of their publications. This leads the authors, who specialise in data driven modelling of complex systems at the Chair of Systems Design at ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, to predict with high precision whether an article will be highly cited five years after publication. Such insight into the social dimension of scientific publishing challenges the perception of citations being an objective, socially unbiased measure of scientific success. Read more [...]

Readers’ comments on special ethics issue

Comments from our readers on the special issue on ethics, culture and values driving research are summarised in this post. We would like to encourage our readers to submit their comments directly at the end of each individual article. This issue is designed to stimulate discussions among our readers. We value your opinion and we believe that it is worth sharing it with others, so that we establish a forum for the European science community, stimulated by the community.
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Special Issue: Ethics – Print Edition

This post is designed to allow our readers to convert the full issue into a single PDF file, that can be read offline or in print. We are introducing such printer and tablet-ready version of the EuroScientist to respond to the expectations of our readers, who have expressed the need to access the magazine when they are not connected to the internet, so that they can read it at their leisure, while travelling for example. As a participatory magazine, we encourage you, our readers, to provide further feedback so that we can make the magazine more accessible and relevant to you. Read more [...]

Gaming the system: who is responsible?

Blaming increase in fraud and unethical behaviour observed in science on a lack of rigour among the emerging ranks of PhDs may appear blatantly reductionist and reactionary. In fact, some might argue that we have been looking and detecting misconduct more systematically than ever before. At the same time, there is a growing movement to raise awareness of scientists’ responsibilities and better equip them to face the pressures to publish more and seek extra funding. Yet, scientists do not exist in a vacuum. They are the product of an educational and research system with values that heavily influences their choices. Read more [...]

From fraudsters to fudgers: research integrity is on trial

Bad behaviour is omnipresent in science. It encompasses everything from outright scientific fraud, such as falsifying data, to other misconducts like cherry-picking data, favourable-looking images and graphs, and drawing conclusions that are not backed up by the actual facts. Overall, it matters more serious than keeping a sloppy lab notebook that no-one else can follow. This raises the deeper question: what drives scientists to behave in such a way? Read more [...]