Bioethics Blogs

The culture of scientific research – five months on

Five months on from the publication of our report The Culture of Scientific Research, Catherine Joynson reflects on the response so far, and our future plans.

In December 2014, the Council published the findings of a series of engagement activities that explored the culture of scientific research in the UK. A survey of almost 1000 scientists and others, and discussion events at universities around the UK, suggested that scientists are motivated in their work to find out more about the world and benefit society, and that they believe collaboration, multidisciplinarity, openness and creativity are important for the production of high quality science.

However, in some cases, the findings suggest, the culture of research in Higher Education Institutions does not support or encourage these goals or activities. For example, high levels of competition and perceptions about how scientists are assessed for jobs and funding are reportedly contributing to a loss of creativity in science, less collaboration and poor research practices, such as rushing to finish and publish research or employing less rigorous research methods. The report concludes with suggestions for action for funding bodies, research institutions, publishers and editors, professional bodies and individual researchers. Read more about the findings here.

Response

In a Foreword in the report, the Presidents of four major science organisations (the Royal Society, Society of Biology, Royal Society of Chemistry and Academy of Medical Sciences) welcomed the report, recognised the integrated view that the culture-wide approach of the project provides, and committed to consider the report’s suggestions for action in the context of their own communities.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.