If the British public likes chemistry — at least more than the chemists believed — then it is positively glowing about science in general. Survey respondents described it with words such as ‘welcoming’, ‘sociable’ and ‘fun’. And a separate poll by Ipsos MORI this year showed that scientists are among the most trusted professionals in Britain; some nine in ten people said that they trust scientists to follow all of the research rules and regulations relevant to them.
“Nine in ten people trust scientists to follow the rules. How many scientists would say the same?”
How many scientists would say the same? Not many, probably, of the attendees at this week’s 4th World Conference on Research Integrity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As we report on page 14, attendees at the weekend discussed the latest high-profile case of scandal, fraud allegations and retraction. The attention drawn by the paper in question — discussing how views on same-sex marriage can be changed — prompted The New York Times to publish an editorial titled ‘Scientists who cheat’. That will not help to fill any void with positive images. More.
Some scientists do cheat, of course, just as some scientists drive too fast, take drugs and are unfaithful to their spouses. The reasons are complex and varied. With some exceptions, scientific organizations do not engage with the issue of misconduct as seriously as they should. Why would they, when public confidence and (moral and financial) support remains so high?
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