Ethics of technology and science Ernesto Vargas Catalan 2015


Ethics of technology and science Ernesto Vargas Catalan 2015-09-09

Publishing – the rigths and wrongs

As I started reading the course material I first though that most of it was common sense or belonged within the “wall of obviousness”, but later I began to reflect that maybe it depends on what kind of scientific field one works with or that it might not be the common way as the authors points out that the examples are made from either the Sweden’s Higher Education Act or according to the Swedish Research Council. With this information I might be blinded with false truths, I will therefore comment and highlight the dilemmas found in each section of chapter 6. Financial backing is an important issue to bring to light; it often clouds the issue if it is presented in the beginning. It should therefore always be included in the acknowledgement. This is critical if for example one would read a review discussing global warming and then discover that it was commissioned by Big Oil (U.S companies that trade in fossil fuels), it is not a bad thing, but one would certainly re-read the paper with more critical eyes the second time. Scientific disclosure is also important. Original sources need to be cited as the whole story needs to be told in the background. It also helps the reader understand what the authors contributions are to the development within the study, if they are continuing a previous work done by the same group, if they are verifying others hypothesis or if it is a novel idea sprung from old theories. The dilemma: Should the authors disclose the support or backing from sources as it might change the opinion of the reader? How should the citations be done order not to diminish or elevate the paper in comparison to its contents? Each study must contain enough detailed information so that peers are able to reconstruct the described experiment. Crucial information for practical experiments are; the specifications and brands of equipment and expendables, and recipes describing the time and order of the experiment. The dilemma: Should processes be described if the result was achieved through an accident? Is the conclusion really reproducible? Is the information sufficient for myself or my peer to repeat the experiment? The information needs to get out there, and media is one way to do it. If science cannot be popularized, then the public will not continue to fund it. Everything does not need to have a commercial application, but the result must be that we learn something, albeit be it that we were wrong it our previous assumptions or that we found unknown problems. The dilemma: When is the correct time to release your findings? Too soon and your facts might not be correct or competitors can steal your product and release patents before you, or too late and the public interest might have lessened in the area and funding is cut short before you manage to publish your findings. Open access is needed as one preferably would want as many readers as possible. The mayor problem with this is that it is not free, someone must always pay, be it the author or the

Ethics of technology and science Ernesto Vargas Catalan 2015-09-09 reader. Which in turn then shuts out some of the peers as the “open access” becomes inaccessible for them. The dilemma: How should the author know and take his peers economic situation into account when the decision about where to publish becomes a reality? Is open access really the same as free information? What must be done so that the largest group of relevant peers can find my publications? As a researcher it is important to describe and publish our findings, but this is not usually done by only one person. We all have our supervisors, collaborators and colleagues from which we receive help and advice. In turn we need to give them credit where credit is due, but how should each contribution be valued? In the discussion and conclusion part the authors explain their own view and voice their opinions, this must be done precise and carefully as one must be able to defend them. The dilemma: How should the author decided who and in which order the author list should be made? How much information is enough for a finding, is a small detail important sufficient to require a new paper or should it instead extend the current publication? How do we measure the work contributed by an author, is it by; amount, impact or response? Our name is our brand, how must we proceed not to blemish it? How can the interpretation be angled so that they do not become colorful or misguided? Publishing is not only work for the author, the publisher and editor also has responsibilities. They decide if the content is worthy of being included in their journal and they have to find relevant peers to evaluate the authors work. They should also help the author by guiding him or advising which steps are necessary to enhance their work. The dilemma: Is the paper right for the journal? Who should judge it? How can we ascertain that the content is relevant or right? References Good research practice, B. Gustafsson, G. Hermerén and B. Pettersson, CM-Gruppen AB, Bromma, Sweden, 2011