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Scientists disagree on responsible research
Date:4/8/2014

"We have, on the one hand, scientists who are convinced that they should be left alone in their ivory tower and that neither politicians nor the general public should interfere with their research activities. In their eyes, the key to conducting responsible science is to protect it from external interest because that will introduce harmful biases. Science should therefore be completely independent and self-regulated in order to be responsible," says communication researcher Maja Horst from the University of Copenhagen. She continues:

"But, on the other hand, there are scientists who believe that the ivory tower should have an open door so that politicians, publics and industry can take part in the development of science. Such engagement is seen as the only way to ensure that science develops in accordance with the needs and values of society, and thereby fulfils its social responsibilities."

In collaboration with PhD student Cecilie Glerup from Copenhagen Business School, Maja Horst has analysed more than 250 scientific journal articles all concerned with the role of research in society and particularly the notion of responsibility. The results of their analyses have just been published in the Journal of Responsible Innovation; http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tjri20/current#.U0O0PlcuGMZ.

"We can conclude that all the scientists are deeply concerned that their research is responsible and useful to society; they just disagree about what it means to conduct responsible research how transparent the ivory tower should be, if you like. This is a problem because if we have different definitions of what it means to be a responsible scientist, it becomes very difficult to have a fruitful discussion about it. It also makes it very difficult to be specific about how we want scientists to act in order to be responsible."

The GMO debate has
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Contact: Associate Professor Maja Horst
horst@hum.ku.dk
45-35-32-88-53
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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