Tag Archives: Ethics

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. By reading this special issue, 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. 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 [...]

Nicholas Steneck: the pressures making scientists go off-piste

Nicholas Steneck is director of the Research Ethics and Integrity Program of the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, USA. In this exclusive interview to the EuroScientist, he shares his views on the pressures that influence scientists in failing to observe the strictest ethical code of conduct. To avoid such issues, he recommends introducing training to "teach new researchers about their responsibilities and about the pressures they are gonna face." He also calls upon research leaders to stand up and promote the need for research integrity. 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 [...]

Have we reached the twilight of the fundamental science era?

History reveals a succession of many dawns and twilights, in different facets of human activity. Looking at the past, we can date and understand the reasons for the birth of science, specifically fundamental science. However, we do not know precisely when its twilight will take place. Nevertheless, clues of the advent of such twilight are already in the air. This article presents the underlying rationale suggesting that we are now past the golden age of pure science, and how we need to accommodate our research to this new era. 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 [...]

Science Communication: putting the cart before the horse

A Danish research project on the so-called Nordic diet has raised concern about new trends in the way science is being communicated to the wider public, through untimely PR campaigns. The example of the OPUS Research Centre at University of Copenhagen, Denmark, stands out. This centre aims to investigate whether public health is likely to improve in Denmark, by renewing the Danish culinary culture. The trouble is that it started its promotional activities before any research findings had been published. 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 [...]