Solution, but no problem

May 3, 2012

Unless it can be demonstrated that there is a serious problem to be tackled that would be solved by the issuing of a "concordat", there is no justification for or point to it ("Punishment doesn't fit social sciences crime", 26 April). Even if there were such a problem, it is questionable whether an employer/funder-enforced concordat would be either legitimate or effective.

Aside from this, the concordat should not employ doublespeak: it is not being offered to "assist" the research community; it is a proposed piece of managerial legislation to be applied by employers and funding bodies.

Let's have plain speaking at the very least, no pretence that there would be recognition of individual researchers' or research teams' freedom to choose whether or not they conformed to the concordat.

What is proposed is based upon a fallacious conception of research ethics, with its appeal to "highest standards", "obligations" and so on, and the idea that enforceable commitments could be stated that would apply across all areas of social scientific work. The concept of integrity is itself a complex and contentious one, but there is no acknowledgement of this. The initiative shows little awareness of the thought that social scientists and philosophers have given to the nature of research ethics over the past 50 or so years. In that respect it adds insult to likely injury.

Martyn Hammersley, Professor of educational and social research, The Open University

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns