Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Public Ethics

At Scientific American's Doing Good Science blog, San Jose State University professor Janet Stemwedel asks what should matter when researchers seek to make ethical decisions. Some things are straightforward, she says — "e.g. don't make up data out of whole cloth, don't smash your competitor's lab apparatus, don't use your mad science skillz to engage in a campaign of super-villainy that brings Gotham City to its knees." But there are other examples that are more nebulous, she adds, which is why researchers talk about ethical decision-making.

Traditionally, researchers have taken the interests of many different parties, including the public, into consideration. "Recently," Stemwedel says, "one of my students objected to how we approach these cases. Specifically, the student argued that we should radically restrict our consideration of interested parties." The public may have reason to be interested in the work scientists are doing, the student argued, but only a very small portion of the public cares about science, and the interests of the public are too heterogeneous to constitute anything more than a "distraction" to researchers, Stemwedel adds.

She then asks the public, does it have an interest in science and should it be considered an interested party when it comes to ethical decision-making?

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.