Scientific responsibility

Science has a unique role in the growing recognition that it is the source of authoritative and reliable knowledge. But that carries with it a great burden to make sure that the public’s trust is not abused. Via Machines Like Us, I learned about the General Assembly of the International Council for Science (ICSU) issuing a statement last month on “The Principle of Universality (freedom and responsibility) of Science” that spelled out what the responsibilities of scientists are.

The free and responsible practice of science is fundamental to scientific advancement and human and environmental well-being. Such practice, in all its aspects, requires freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists, as well as equitable access to data, information, and other resources for research. It requires responsibility at all levels to carry out and communicate scientific work with integrity, respect, fairness, trustworthiness, and transparency, recognising its benefits and possible harms.

This followed up on the second World Conference on Research Integrity held in Singapore in July 2010 that issued a statement that “emphasizes the need for honesty in all aspects of research, accountability in the conduct of scientific research, professional courtesy and fairness in working with others, and good stewardship of research on behalf of others.”

Scientists have to be vigilant in maintaining these standards.


  1. Steve LaBonne says

    I think those principles need to be read to include a responsibility not to publish in obscenely overpriced journals owned by greedy commercial publishers. The progress of science depends on the free flow of knowledge.

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