Send to

Choose Destination
Account Res. 2016;23(1):31-46. doi: 10.1080/08989621.2014.1002608.

The Ethical Challenges of Socially Responsible Science.

Author information

a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park , North Carolina , USA.
b Lyman Briggs College, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and Department of Philosophy , Michigan State University , East Lansing , Michigan , USA.


Social responsibility is an essential part of the responsible conduct of research that presents difficult ethical questions for scientists. Recognizing one's social responsibilities as a scientist is an important first step toward exercising social responsibility, but it is only the beginning, since scientists may confront difficult value questions when deciding how to act responsibly. Ethical dilemmas related to socially responsible science fall into at least three basic categories: 1) dilemmas related to problem selection, 2) dilemmas related to publication and data sharing, and 3) dilemmas related to engaging society. In responding to these dilemmas, scientists must decide how to balance their social responsibilities against other professional commitments and how to avoid compromising their objectivity. In this article, we will examine the philosophical and ethical basis of social responsibility in science, discuss some of the ethical dilemmas related to exercising social responsibility, and make five recommendations to help scientists deal with these issues.


Ethics; objectivity; politics; scientific research; social responsibility; values

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center