Code of scientific conduct

IGDORE’s current code of scientific conduct is the TU/e Code of Scientific Conduct. This thread can host the discussions on how to adjust it to better suit IGDORE. To make things easier, here’s the TU/e code in an editable format: TUe_Code_of_Scientific_Conduct_21-1-2015.odt (22.3 KB)

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@dbernt Could we perhaps move it to Google Docs?

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Yeah, it will be more convenient. I guess we have to edit it collaboratively. I want to encourage everyone to suggest points and leave comments to support why one thinks this would be a good idea to add to the code.

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I’m glad that we’ve opened this discussion about scientific ethics. The sociology of science book Real Science states that ‘traditional’ academia (this is really referring to traditional academic practices, pre-1980s, when commercialization and applied research were less of a focus) embodied the following social norms (CUDOS, also known as the Mertonian norms):

  • C - Communalism
  • U - Universality
  • D - Disinterested
  • O - Originality
  • S - Scepticism

Alternatively, industrial/commercial research embodies the following social norms (PLACE):

  • P - Proprietary
  • L - Local
  • A - Authoritarian
  • C - Commissioned
  • E - Expert

The current state of academia in Universities is described by the book as ‘post-academia’ and represents a merger of traditional and industrial research practices. I think it’s interesting to compare how these social norms compare to what’s in the TU/e ethics statement we currently use. The main points in this are:

  • Trustworthiness (pro-Scepticism, in that truth facilitates the scepticism)
  • Intellectual honesty (~pro-Expert)
  • Openness (pro-Communal, ~pro-Original, anti-Authoritarian, ~anti-Proprietary)
  • Independence (pro-Disinterested, ~anti-Commissioned)
  • Society responsibility

I added the norms that seemed to support (or oppose) the ethics statement. While scope (Universality/Localness) of research isn’t really addressed, I think that the TU/e ethics statement actually aligns quite well to the norms of traditional academia. Is it too early to tell what the norms of ‘new academia’ are? @rebecca, I’m interested to know what norms you expect to develop in our community? This seems like an important 1st step in considering our ethics.

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I wonder why did IGDORE choose TU/e Code of Scientific Conduct ? Maybe there are some insights?

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Alexander’s question is easier to answer from the phone with a sleeping kid next to me so I’ll start with that. :slight_smile:

The main reason was that it was much easier and quicker than to develop an own CoC from scratch. Anne Scheel, PhD student in open and replicable psychological science supervised by @Lakens at TU/e, posted enthusiastically on Twitter about their CoC when she got accepted into the program a couple of years ago. And I agreed that the CoC pretty much covered the main visions I had for IGDORE. So I thought we could use it temporarily until we develop an own.

Now we’re looking into how to modify the TU/e CoC to make it a perfect fit for IGDORE (while of course crediting TU/e as the source). Previously my aim has rather been to develop some sort of ‘scientist’s oath’, similar to what Simine Vazire did here: https://sometimesimwrong.typepad.com/wrong/2018/01/oath-for-scientists.html

Etienne LeBel and Anne Scheel also wrote something in a joint blog post on such an oath, but I fail to find their essay now.

UPDATE: Something I really like with an oath for scientists similar to Simine’s is that I think it evokes emotions not only in me but also in others. Read the oath out loud, take it seriously, and something really happens inside of you, right? I feel responsible. I feel that my profession is important and that I need to handle it properly. This stands in contrast to a CoC, even one like TU/e’s, which most people probably won’t even read.

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For what it is worth, the TU/e code of research integrity is a sort of summary and slight adaptation of the Dutch code of research integrity (especially the newer 2018 one), and the European code of research integrity also shares many of these points. I think the TU/e code is very nicely written, clear, and maybe just a bit more ambitious, but otherwise not that special. I agree an oath has a different goal, which is more emotional. I think it is possible to have both.

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I’d like to ping @alex.lancaster here, who’s also with Ronin Institute and has done quite some thinking on ‘new academia’ and also written an article (or several?) on it with colleagues from Ronin.

I started writing this post a few days ago. I have never actually read Merton before so I started to read up online and watched some online lectures on the norms. I do have several things to say about that. But right now, less than 40 hours after Jon’s passing, the only thing I can remember is my thoughts on Universality.

According to Wikipedia (on Mertonian norms),

[t]he two aspects of Merton’s universalism are expressed in the statements that “objectivity precludes particularism” and “free access to scientific pursuits is a functional imperative”.

Merton

saw universalism as “rooted deep in the impersonal character of science”

and

all scientists’ claims (" truth-claims ") should be subjected to the same ‘pre-established impersonal criteria’ regardless of their source (“personal or social attributes of their protagonist”)

He also argued that

restricting scientific careers on anything but lack of competence was to “prejudice the furtherance of knowledge”.

I would argue that the movement for justice oriented science, to which many open science proponents and organisations today belong, fails Merton’s universality norm in at least two ways: it argues against (1) objectivity and rationalism, and (2) impersonality (i.e. considering the claim only, never the person who made the claim).

Here’s an example from a widely spread blog post arguing for justice oriented science:

[The open movement] failed again and again and again when it chose to privilege a bizarre and fetishised rationalism over the lived experiences of embodied human beings.

The kind of thinking we need now recognises and respects Indigenous wisdom and ways of knowing. […] The extreme privileging of a specific kind of rationalism has dominated the open movement and its discourse for so long that other ways of knowing have been all but disappeared from our discourse. The kind of thinking we need now recognises and values emotion as an important aspect of how we understand and know the world.

I believe IGDORE does, can and should adhere strictly to all Merton’s four norms, including the universality norm. We could hopefully set a good example for other openness organisations who may not really want to adhere to the loud demands from the justice oriented science movement but feel unsure about what else to do.

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