Achieving good science. A cross-disciplinary study.


Wetenschap staat onder druk. Niet alleen de integriteit van wetenschappers en de kwaliteit van wetenschappelijk werk staat ter discussie, maar ook het vertrouwen van het publiek in wetenschappelijke instituties. In die discussies blijven de verschillen tussen disciplines vaak impliciet, waardoor wetenschapsbeleid vaak slecht past. Tegelijk maken die verschillen het moeilijk om het belang van wetenschap helder te verwoorden.

Goede wetenschap

In dit project maken we een vergelijkende analyse van wat in 5 verschillende disciplines telt als ‘goede wetenschap’, en wat het bereiken daarvan bedreigt. We dompelen ons onder in het werk van wetenschappers uit de geneeskunde, filosofie, scheikunde, wiskunde en antropologie. Welke specifieke problemen zijn er om ‘goede wetenschap’ te bereiken, welke problemen delen de disciplines, en hoe is communicatie tussen disciplines mogelijk? Het doel van ons project is om gerichter beleid te ontwikkelen om verantwoorde onderzoekspraktijken te bevorderen.


Samenvatting van de aanvraag
Science is under pressure. What is at stake is not only the quality of scientific work, but also the erosion of public trust in the institutions where this work is done. While the public and scientific debates about scientific integrity are characterized by a variety of voices, the differences between different scientific disciplines often remain implicit. Similarly, formulating research integrity policies to warrant responsible research without addressing underlying differences, first, risks producing a ‘one-size fits all’ approach that will necessarily speak more to some discplines and less to others. Second, and paradoxically, such a generalizing approach prevents the sciences from speaking in one voice about what science can deliver. This project takes an ambitious step to remedy this situation by providing an in-depth comparative analysis of what constitutes and threatens good research practices within five scientific disciplines, each with their particular organization, particular styles of knowing and objects of knowledge: deductive science (mathematics), experimental science (chemistry), interpretative science (philosophy), interpretative social science (anthropology) and statistical and applied science (medical sciences). The primary objective of this project is to provide in-depth knowledge on research integrity by attending to what constitutes good science in daily research practices, how scientists work hard to achieve this, or act in situations where it is threatened. We will compare concerns and solutions within the different disciplines, to generate a vocabulary that helps to develop and sustain responsible research practices. To do this, we will analyze how concerns with integrity emerge in everyday scientific work where questions rise about how to act in order to achieve good science. To grasp the differences and similarities between the disciplines, we will study concerns about good research practices within and between five disciplines. The research questions are: 1) What constitutes good science in the daily practices of the various disciplines? 2) What tensions and dilemmas of good science do scientists face in their everyday practices? How do they attend to such tensions? 3) How do concerns about good science and their tensions differ between different scientific disciplines? 4) What can we learn from these tensions and the diversity of issues between the sciences to stimulate practices of research integrity? Theoretically, the study draws on empirical ethics and science studies. The great advantage of using a combined approach in relation to studying scientific integrity is that it focuses on 1) the positive ways in which the informants understand and attempt to shape good research practices within 2)the materiality, pressures and regulations of everyday practices in which they produce scientific knowledge. Empirically and methodologically, the first part of the study is dedicated to ethnographic case studies within the five disciplines, using techniques of participant observation and interviews. By analyzing how good research practices are sustained and what kind of work is needed when this good is at stake, the project generates an in-depth, empirically informed understanding of what supports and threatens good research practices within the disciplines. The differences in challenges and solutions will be compared to allow for mutual learning, and to develop an understanding of concerns shared across disciplines. In the final part of the project we use deliberative methods to discuss and implement findings. On the basis of the comparative analysis, three focus group meetings will be organized. The representatives from the different disciplines will be invited to exchange ideas and perspectives. The results of the focus group meetings will feed into an invitational conference where different concerned parties, like policy makers and scientific policy organizations, will be invited to discuss results and how these might feed into research integrity policy. By attending to the everyday practices of research, this project is innovative and timely. It delivers the first comparative study of research practices in their attempt to achieve good science and the challenges to arrive at that. The project provides urgently needed insights into scientific integrity, acknowledging both differentiated as well as shared problems within and across different scientific disciplines. The project herewith complements and feeds into current integrity policies that focus on undesirable research practices, that propose criteria for evaluating scientific research, as well as attempts of concerned researchers who look for ways to advance integrity in their practices.
Gerelateerde subsidieronde:
Projectleider en penvoerder:
Prof. dr. A.J. Pols
Verantwoordelijke organisatie:
Amsterdam UMC - locatie AMC