Professionalism in Science: Competence, Autonomy, and Service

Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (3):1287-1313 (2020)
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Some of the most significant policy responses to cases of fraudulent and questionable conduct by scientists have been to strengthen professionalism among scientists, whether by codes of conduct, integrity boards, or mandatory research integrity training programs. Yet there has been little systematic discussion about what professionalism in scientific research should mean. In this paper I draw on the sociology of the professions and on data comparing codes of conduct in science to those in the professions, in order to examine what precisely the model of professionalism implies for scientific research. I argue that professionalism, more than any other single organizational logic, is appropriate for scientific research, and that codes of conduct for scientists should strengthen statements concerning scientific autonomy and competence, as well as the scientific service ideal.
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