Promoting the ethical conduct of science

Back in 2004, Sir David King (at the time, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser) initiated a discussion about generating a Code of Conduct for Scientists. The consultation process led, in 2006, to the publication of Rigour, respect and responsibility: a universal ethical code for scientists. None of the contents was particularly surprising or radical but it brought together in one place a list of seven key principles that ought to be foundational for the ethical conduct and communication of science.

The Code of Conduct emphasises seven key points

The Code of Conduct emphasises seven key points

The Code received a public launch at the BA Festival of Science in September 2007 and was reported in the general press at the time (see, for example, UK science head backs ethics code). During the intervening two years, conversations with scientist colleagues (across a range of institutions) have revealed almost universal ignorance about the existence of the Code, let alone its content. Continue reading


Q: What’s the connection between the Prime Minister and undergraduate students?

Answer: neither empties their mailbox fast enough. This would be funny, except I’m trying to exercise my democratic right regarding the most important bioethics legislation in a generation and being thwarted by the technology.

democracy... undelivered

democracy... undelivered

UPDATE (22nd October): I tried on more than ten occasions over a 24 hour period to have this message delivered, all to no avail. I’m not trying to pass the buck here, I know I should have got my act together and sent a letter in plenty of time. My point is this – if this is an advertised route via which the PM can be contacted then it ought to work. I can quite understand if the mailbox is inundated with pleas on all manner of issues. But if it is not a functional service then it should be very clear, for example in the autoresponse, that this is not the way to contact the Prime Minister rather than a message that implies you could and should try again later.

FURTHER UPDATE (22nd March 2009): The BBC reports that the Number 10 have now withdrawn the capability to e-mail the Prime Minister (see Number 10 gets rid of PM’s e-mail)

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