Ethics

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

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 [...]

Publish or perish: an incitement to fraudulence

More than 120 papers have been withdrawn from subscription databases of two high-profile publishers, IEEE and Springer, because they were computer generated thanks to the SCIgen software designed to generate random computer science research papers. The trouble is that they had no meaning at all. All of them were labelled as peer reviewed and all of them were published in proceedings of actual conferences. Read more [...]

Is the culture of research encouraging good science?

A quick look at the back catalogue of the EuroScientist provides an illustration of the wide range of issues that affect the working lives of scientists today. Previous articles have covered research evaluation, the open access movement, career structures and responsible innovation, among many others. These issues are often dealt with individually—and rightly so given their complexity. But considered as a whole, they help to make up a culture. And scientists must work within this culture to do what they set out to do: usually, to produce high quality, ethical research that is of benefit to society. Read more [...]

Does media coverage of research misconduct affect public confidence in science?

The SOM Institute at the University of Gothenburg conducts annual surveys of the Swedish public. It explores, among other things, media consumption, confidence in societal institutions and different professional groups. Since 2002, an independent and influential Swedish non-profit membership organisation that works to promote dialogue and openness between researchers and the public called Vetenskap & Allmänhet—which stands for Public and Science—has added a section to the SOM survey to study public confidence in science and scientists. The results of a study, which examines the hypothesis that media reports of research misconduct will have an impact on public confidence in science and scientists, are about to be uncovered at the ESOF 2014 conference, in June, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Read more [...]

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

The Incredible Shrinking Man is a speculative project that investigates the implications of downsizing the human species to better address the demands on the Earth. It has been a long established trend for people to grow taller. As a direct result we need more resources, more food, more energy and more space. At the dawn of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, an estimated 5 million people lived on Earth. Read more [...]

The abuse of Science

In the past few years, several scientists he have become a lightning-rod for the environmental and the anti-big business movements, while ignoring any scientific shortcomings others might highlight in their studies. Indeed, their popularity has grown outside scientific circles to the point that they are now paraded almost as scientific proof that science itself is wrong. Increasingly, there are more and more European instances where ideology triumphs over scientific rationale. Enters the new post-modern Sociology of Science, which soothingly offers cultural reasons for why some scientific proposals and conclusions are unacceptable to citizens. Read more [...]

The research subject

I lay flat on my back on the table. Large foam pads were placed under my elbows and round my neck. I was given a pair of headphones and a restraining strap was fixed across my forehead. Then I was shunted backwards into a narrow, cream-coloured tube. The door was locked and the room was filled with an incessant humming noise as the machine started. Soon the humming was replaced by squealing and the whole machine began to vibrate. Read more [...]

Rare scientific misconducts cost us our reputation

Just a couple of weeks ago Marc Hauser was in the news, again. He is known as one of the world's leading evolutionary biologists and teaches at the Psychology Department at Harvard University. His work focused on primate behaviour and animal cognition. Hauser has been awarded science medals from the US and France and he has published about 200 articles in research journals. However, the latest news coverage is based on accusations against Hauser as the Harvard faculty suspend him while investigations are carried out for "scientific misdemeanour". Read more [...]