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Doing Good Science

Doing Good Science


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    Janet D. Stemwedel Janet D. Stemwedel is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at San José State University. Her explorations of ethics, scientific knowledge-building, and how they are intertwined are informed by her misspent scientific youth as a physical chemist. Follow on Twitter @docfreeride.
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  • You’re not rehabilitated if you keep deceiving.

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    Regular readers will know that I view scientific misconduct as a serious harm to both the body of scientific knowledge and the scientific community involved in building that knowledge. I also hold out hope that at least some of the scientists who commit scientific misconduct can be rehabilitated (and I’ve noted that other members of [...]

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    Grappling with the angry-making history of human subjects research, because we need to.

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    Teaching about the history of scientific research with human subjects bums me out. Indeed, I get fairly regular indications from students in my “Ethics in Science” course that reading about and discussing the Nazi medical experiments and the U.S. Public Health Service’s Tuskegee syphilis experiment leaves them feeling grumpy, too. Their grumpiness varies a bit [...]

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    Adjudicating “misbehavior”: how can scientists respond when they don’t get fair credit?

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    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently gave a talk at UC – Berkeley’s Science Leadership and Management (SLAM) seminar series. After the talk (titled “The grad student, the science fair, the reporter, and the lionfish: a case study of competition, credit, and communication of science to the public”), there was a discussion [...]

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    Communicating with the public, being out as a scientist.

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    In the previous post, I noted that scientists are not always directly engaged in the project of communicating about their scientific findings (or about the methods they used to produce those findings) to the public. Part of this is a matter of incentives: most scientists don’t have communicating with the public as an explicit part [...]

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    Are scientists who don’t engage with the public obliged to engage with the press?

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    In posts of yore, we’ve had occasion to discuss the duties scientists may have to the non-scientists with whom they share a world. One of these is the duty to share the knowledge they’ve built with the public — especially if that knowledge is essential to the public’s ability to navigate pressing problems, or if [...]

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    Doing science is more than building knowledge: on professional development in graduate training.

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    Earlier this week, I was pleased to be an invited speaker at UC – Berkeley’s Science Leadership and Management (SLAM) seminar series. Here’s the official description of the program: What is SLAM? Grad school is a great place to gain scientific expertise – but that’s hardly the only thing you’ll need in your future as [...]

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    Complacent in earthquake country.

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    A week ago, there was a 6.0 earthquake North of San Francisco. I didn’t feel it, because I was with my family in Santa Barbara that weekend. Even if we had been home, it’s not clear that we would have noticed it; reports are that some folks in San Jose felt some shaking but others [...]

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    Fall semester musing on numbers.

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    The particular numbers on which I’m focused aren’t cool ones like pi, although I suspect they’re not entirely rational, either. I teach at a public university in a state whose recent budget crises have been epic. That means that funding for sections of classes (and especially for the faculty who teach those sections of classes) [...]

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    Some thoughts about the suicide of Yoshiki Sasai.

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    In the previous post I suggested that it’s a mistake to try to understand scientific activity (including misconduct and culpable mistakes) by focusing on individual scientists, individual choices, and individual responsibility without also considering the larger community of scientists and the social structures it creates and maintains. That post was where I landed after thinking [...]

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    When focusing on individual responsibility obscures shared responsibility.

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    Over many years of writing about ethics in the conduct of science, I’ve had occasion to consider many cases of scientific misconduct and misbehavior, instances of honest mistakes and culpable mistakes. Discussions of these cases in the media and among scientists often make them look aberrant, singular, unconnected — the Schön case, the Hauser case, [...]

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