Director’s Special Seminar: ‘Ethics, Scientific Integrity and Diversity in the Research Environment’
Linda Gundersen, scientist emeritus with the U.S. Geological Survey, will present “’Ethics, Scientific Integrity and Diversity in the Research Environment” on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. The seminar will be held in the Building 402 Auditorium at 10 a.m. All employees whose schedules permit are invited to attend. Shuttle begins at 9:15 a.m. with stops at 201, 212, 202, 203, 200, 205, 240 and 362 to Building 402. Return trips will follow the talk.
Among Linda Gundersen’s positions during her 30-plus years with the U.S. Geological Survey was chief scientist for geology where she directed $260M in earth science programs including hazards, resources and climate change. Later she became the first director of the Office of Science Quality and Integrity, where she established and directed scientific integrity, ethics, education, career development, publication quality and research excellence programs. Gundersen went on to help develop scientific integrity policies for the Department of Interior, American Geosciences Institute and American Geophysical Union. She recently served on the Geological Society of America’s Ad Hoc Committee on Ethics and is currently working with the Carnegie Institute of Science to update its scientific integrity policy. She is the editor and an author of the book “Scientific Integrity and Ethics in the Geosciences” (2017).
“Trust is the basis for all science”: 5 Questions for Linda Gundersen
- Why is research integrity important?
Trust is the basis for all of science; without it, there is no advancement. Adhering to scientific integrity principles, and having a common understanding of scientific integrity, helps ensure trust. As scientists, we trust each other to behave and conduct our research with excellence and integrity. Society expects the same. When integrity is broken, the impacts can be far-reaching because we build on each other’s work. Science that lacks integrity will corrupt good science and may result in the release of dangerous medicines, inaccurate engineering models, or poor planning for catastrophes. This kind of bad science can and does impact the lives of millions.
- You’ve been studying research integrity for many years. What has changed about it?
Scientific institutions and scientists are realizing integrity encompasses more than the lone researcher engaging in the traditional scientific process. Integrity needs to address science as a community, especially the health of our research, education, and professional environments. Numerous scientific integrity policies are embracing broader definitions of misconduct and setting standards of behavior to protect the scientist and their research and promote healthy research environments.
In addition, technology, globalization and multidisciplinary research are amazing game changers in terms of our everyday scientific practice. However, these advancements have created greater pressure to produce more science faster, which can lead to poor practices becoming norms, such as publishing only positive results. Plagiarizing and self-plagiarizing, preventing research replication by publishing insufficient data and methods, and tolerating negative and harassing environments are other practices it is important for us to mitigate.
- What has surprised you in your work with research integrity?
Three things stand out for me: 1) we generally take for granted that scientists inherently know scientific integrity practices without being taught them; 2) we think the high pressure, highly competitive environments we have created in research institutions and academia will not affect scientific integrity; and 3) we do not realize that discrimination and harassment are happening at high levels. These issues are affecting us directly and are reflective of the need to examine the values we have in science. If we say we value excellence, collaboration and innovation, then we need to foster an ethical culture of respect, inclusion, and integrity.
- How are research integrity and our core values correlated?
Science relies on our core values: who we are, our experiences, what we pay attention to, how we behave by ourselves and with others, and what we consider to be the goal of our science. Core values are shaped by how we were brought up, what we are taught, and what we come to believe. They might be scientific integrity values such as honesty and objectivity, ethical values such as preserving the environment or doing science of specific societal benefit, or personal values of ambition and power at any cost. These values directly affect our science and our biases, both implicit and explicit.
Core values like the ones Argonne has identified strongly support an environment of integrity and inclusion. Core values speak to the need to care for and mentor each other and our science (Safety and Respect) to do excellent science relevant to society (Impact and Integrity) and to be innovative and creative (Impact and Teamwork).
- What excites you about this work?
I came to this work as a natural progression from my program management work. It became obvious that as scientific institutions we can position ourselves strategically to do the best societally relevant science in two ways: 1) understanding the direction of scientific advancement and societal needs and 2) having the best scientific staff to carry out that work. To have the best scientific staff, it is important to have programs in scientific integrity, ethics, excellence, diversity, inclusion, evaluation, development, mentoring and reward. When scientists work in a positive environment that values and nurtures excellence and inclusion, they do amazing things.