Ethics

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

Are blockchain applications guided by adequate social values?

At their simplest, blockchains are just lists of transactions - ledger books - that are recorded in a transparent and decentralised way. Currencies such as Bitcoin are the best-known application of the technology. However, other applications are emerging far beyond the financial sector. In this stimulating opinion piece, Philip Boucher, policy analyst at the European Parliament's Scientific Foresight Unit explains the opportunities and challenges that such an emerging technology offers. The biggest question is: are we ready to give up traditional financial and governmental control in favour of decentralised blockchain applications harbouring greater transparency? Some of the answers may be found in an event organised by the Scientific Foresight Unit of the European Parliament event on the 11th May 2017. Read more [...]

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 [...]

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 research integrity. 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 [...]

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 [...]