Ethics of Research and the New Conditions of Knowledge Production

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Judith PEREZ-CASTRO, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico
Until the mid-twentieth century, the development of science and technology was a relatively autonomous area compare to other social practices. It was expected that the production of knowledge followed the methods and techniques accepted by the scientific community, that it were free from particular interests or values, that its results contributed to foresee and solve social and natural problems, and that its final goal were the search for the objective truth (Mardones & Ursua, 1992). However, after the exposure of the abuses perpetrated against human beings in the sake of the scientific progress during Second World War, the international community began to commit seriously in the definition of the ethical limits of research.

Though, the enactment of statements and ethical codes has not been enough to prevent the development of questionable research practices and unacceptable research practices (Aluja & Birke, 2004). Similarly, up to now, some researchers still find very difficult to understand the commitment and social responsibility of science, beyond the mere production of knowledge (López, 2008). This situation has become increasingly critical today, given the current limitations of public funding for research and the productivity standards established for researchers.

Particularly in Mexico, higher education institutions have been the main establishments to develop scientific research in different fields of knowledge. Therefore, in this paper, we analyze the impact that the new conditions for knowledge production have had on the ethical behavior of researchers; conditions in which knowledge is “socially distributed, application-oriented, trans-disciplinary and subject to multiple accountabilities” (Nowotny, Scott & Gibbons 2003:179). We want to analyze both, good research practices and bad research practices, since we think that despite the pressures that researchers face every day, there are still many who continue working with a great ethical commitment and with social responsibility.