It is believed that science is one of the ultimate collective endeavours. Science is objective knowledge based on facts and logic. It is not affected by social values, and it has no distinction between good and evil. It is value-neutral. Science helps ensure a healthier and longer life by providing medication for our diseases, relieves aches and pains, provides us with basic needs such as food and water. We have energy, sporting activities, music, and state communication technology through science, making life more fun and nourishing our spirit. Also, science helps to answer the great mysteries of the world by providing us with solutions, making it the most effective channel of knowledge. It is beneficial to society because of its specific roles and numerous functions like improving the quality of life, bettering education, and creating new knowledge (Gu, 2021). Scientists are the people with the highest level of knowledge in the social group. Their mission is to maintain the dignity of human beings and abide by the basic moral codes of mankind. In this essay, we shall discuss first whether; scientists should have any ethical responsibility? Second, whether a scientist should cooperate or compete? Thirdly whether research findings should be made public and helpful to better society? And finally, whether scientific research should be free from other purposes?
Question 1: Should scientists have any ethical responsibility?
Yes, scientists should have an ethical responsibility. Ethics is a set of moral obligations that scientists use to distinguish right from wrong in their decisions and practices. As a result, scientists have combined these ethical practices in a formalised system that guides them in the field. Therefore, scientists have embraced these ethics to the extent that it becomes their way of practice (Corley, Kim and Scheufele, 2016). If anyone of them goes against these ethics, it is considered a grave offence that is punishable within the profession or even by the land laws.
In all stages of scientific practice, scientific ethics require them to uphold honesty and integrity from the reporting of their results to attributing collaborators properly. In all the steps, these scientific ethics guide scientific research from collecting data to the publication of results and beyond. Scientific ethics is deeply integrated into the way scientists work, like in any other profession. They are well aware that their work and scientific knowledge rely upon adhering to that ethics. Similarly, when scientists embrace ethical responsibility, they promote unbiased scientific understanding, vital to those who might want to build upon the findings (Kretser et al., 2019). The peer reviews, open publication of data, and the partnership required by scientific ethics assist science to keep moving forward by confirming, validating, or questioning the results of research findings.
The scientific community holds the responsibility of dealing with breaches of ethical standards. The fear of losing their jobs makes them be more adherences to the work ethics. However, there are instances where scientists give their competitors negative peer reviews. Although this is a minor offence, it is unfair and goes against the ethics but often goes unpunished. The scientific community, just like any group, works together to deal with these forms of misconduct to the best of their knowledge.
Question 2: Should scientists cooperate or compete?
Scientists should always embrace the spirit of cooperation other than competing in their field of research. For instance, when Watson attempted to solve DNA structure, he fancied competition because it provided him with an added incentive. However, the priority concern made Pauling to publish a premature three-stranded spiral of a DNA structure that failed, and he was embarrassed. His drive for competition made him fail and go against scientific ethics. Competition may work best for algorithmic tasks but not where more creativity is needed, like in heuristic tasks. Therefore, just like Hilbert’s definition of 23 unsolved problems in the 20 century assisted in stimulating the attention of mathematicians, scientists must define specific, feasible, and technological goals that help advance this field.
Nevertheless, modern scientists prefer a different structure that promotes creativity, collaboration, and cooperation. One way they use to achieve this is by changing the professional advancement criteria, which emphasises common goals and less focus on publications in prestigious venues (Morschheuser, Hamari and Maedche, 2019). Also, when scientists cooperate, they mentor others by availing useful reagents and information to the community. Cooperation encourages teams to publish their research findings at the time, which ensures the scientific community of a collaborated conclusion immediately. Additionally, the fact that findings will be presented simultaneously makes rival groups more thorough with their work and thus produce better results.
Many scientific pieces of research require good funding for thorough and in-depth analysis. Individual researchers may not have adequate resources to carry out meaningful research. Therefore, they are forced to cooperate with other scientists and galvanise their unique resources and efforts succeed to succeed (Bromham, Dinnage and Hua, 2016).
Question 3: Should research findings be made public and helpful to a better society?
Yes, all research findings should be made public and be used to better society. Scientists do not research for the sake of it. The research’s primary goal is to positively impact the community by creating awareness of innovations that enhance growth. Research findings must leave the academic journals and laboratories for research to serve its entire purpose (Curtis, Fry, Shaban and Considine, 2017). Also, researchers must ensure that their findings end up to those they affect. For instance, in the year 300 B.C Euclid of Alexandria came up with many mathematical treatises, and his work contained 465 propositions on plane geometry and the theory of number. His mathematical research work was put public for scrutiny and was edited from its ancient Greek appearance to today (Casselman, 2019).
Additionally, researchers must ensure that research participants get the results of the research they participated in. Though others may argue that it is an ethical obligation to share results with participants, researchers ought to find research finding to those interested even though they may feel that it will not help them. Such a gesture will promote a long-lasting relationship and future collaborations with the participants (Guillemin, 2018). Finally, research findings can be used to address different social disparities. When discoveries are made public, policymakers, healthcare providers, families, governments, and communities can understand the social problems affecting our society. As a result, appropriate actions can be taken to deal with these problems (McDavit et al., 2016). Finally, publicising community-based research results can help improve the livelihood of the involved parties and provide them with an opportunity to learn more about themselves.
Question 4: Should scientific research be free from directions for other purposes, say political, business, etc.?
Yes, scientists should be free from any directions meant to benefit a business or political purpose. A researcher becomes biased when he is in favour of a particular outcome. There are ways in which researchers can influence the development of their studies; through the choice of their study design, who they wish to accommodate in the research, and how data is interpreted. Therefore, selection bias can be defined as a tentative mistake that happens when the study subject fails to paint an accurate reflection of the study population to which the results will be applied. For instance, a company may sponsor research on a rival product in the market and develop false findings to promote their own.
Additionally, bias in scientific research may not present accurate phenomena in the real world, and the results may not be applied equally to all populations and situations. For instance, if the research fails to tackle a complete diversity of persons that the study findings will be involved, it is evident that the researcher has missed significant evidence on how that result will impact an enormous target population. Finally, little research can affect the development of engineering solutions. For instance, when a company chooses to use only young people to test its technological product when older people use it, they may experience challenges (Drucker, Fleming and Chan, 2016).
In summary, this essay has pointed out the importance of scientists upholding ethical values in their studies and their responsibility to society. Also, we have looked at the importance of scientists cooperating and working as a team and how the community benefits from it. Additionally, we have discussed the importance of making public the results of any findings and, finally, the significance of researchers avoiding biases in their research findings and stay away from political and economic pressures.
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Casselman, B., 2019. One of the oldest extant diagrams from Euclid. The Mathematics Department-The University of Britsh Columbia. Foto de William Casselman. Disponível em:< https://www. Math. ubc. ca/~ cass/euclid/papyrus/papyrus. html>. Acesso em, 24. https://doi.org/10.4169/mathhorizons.25.2.22
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Morschheuser, B., Hamari, J. and Maedche, A., 2019. Cooperation or competition-When do people contribute more? A field experiment on gamification of crowdsourcing. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 127, pp.7-24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2018.10.001