A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences


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And so science became a strange co-production between scientists and journal editors, with the former increasingly pursuing discoveries that would impress the latter. M axwell understood the way journals were now the kingmakers of science. But his main concern was still expansion, and he still had a keen vision of where science was heading, and which new fields of study he could colonise. Pergamon also branched into social sciences and psychology. We had to go find out who the head of the department was, make him start a journal. And boom — International Journal of Hospitality Management.

By the late s, Maxwell was also dealing with a more crowded market. Between and , the average price of a journal doubled. That same year, Harvard Library overran its research journal budget by half a million dollars. Scientists occasionally questioned the fairness of this hugely profitable business to which they supplied their work for free, but it was university librarians who first realised the trap in the market Maxwell had created.

The librarians used university funds to buy journals on behalf of scientists. Maxwell was well aware of this. Librarians were locked into a series of thousands of tiny monopolies. There were now more than a million scientific articles being published a year, and they had to buy all of them at whatever price the publishers wanted.

From a business perspective, it was a total victory for Maxwell.

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Many former Pergamon employees separately told me that they knew it was all over for Maxwell when he made the Elsevier deal, because Pergamon was the company he truly loved. Later that year, he became mired in a series of scandals over his mounting debts, shady accounting practices, and an explosive accusation by the American journalist Seymour Hersh that he was an Israeli spy with links to arms traders. On 5 November , Maxwell was found drowned off his yacht in the Canary Islands. A third explanation, that he was pushed, would also come up.

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The speculation was endless: in , the journalists Gordon Thomas and Martin Dillon published a book alleging that Maxwell was assassinated by Mossad to hide his spying activities. By that time, Maxwell was long gone, but the business he had started continued to thrive in new hands, reaching new levels of profit and global power over the coming decades. Then you market the thing and your salespeople go out there to sell subscriptions, which is slow and tough, and you try to make the journal as good as possible. It was angering its customers just as the internet was arriving to offer them a free alternative.

But, as always, the publishers understood the market better than the academics. Universities signed up en masse. Pay, and the scientific lights stayed on, but refuse, and up to a quarter of the scientific literature would go dark at any one institution.

What's the point of social science research?

P ublishers are now wound so tightly around the various organs of the scientific body that no single effort has been able to dislodge them. These three companies accounted for half the market. Elsevier says its primary goal is to facilitate the work of scientists and other researchers.

An Elsevier rep noted that the company received 1. We look at the numbers [of scientists who trust their results to Elsevier] and that suggests we are doing a good job. That, he said, is what they were charging for. When governments including those of China and Mexico offer financial bonuses for publishing in high-impact journals, they are not responding to a demand by any specific publisher, but following the rewards of an enormously complex system that has to accommodate the utopian ideals of science with the commercial goals of the publishers that dominate it.

This solves the difficulty of balancing scientific and commercial imperatives by simply removing the commercial element. In practice, this usually takes the form of online journals, to which scientists pay an upfront free to cover editing costs, which then ensure the work is available free to access for anyone in perpetuity. But despite the backing of some of the biggest funding agencies in the world, including the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, only about a quarter of scientific papers are made freely available at the time of their publication.

In recent years, the most radical opposition to the status quo has coalesced around a controversial website called Sci-Hub — a sort of Napster for science that allows anyone to download scientific papers for free.


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Its creator, Alexandra Elbakyan, a Kazhakstani, is in hiding, facing charges of hacking and copyright infringement in the US. Elbakyan is an unabashed utopian. Whatever the fate of Sci-Hub, it seems that frustration with the current system is growing. But history shows that betting against science publishers is a risky move. That sounds a lot like the world we live in now. Elsevier published , papers last year, after receiving 1. This article was further amended to correct the date that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. That was in , not The long read.

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Topics The long read. Peer review and scientific publishing Publishing Research Research funding Science and nature books features. Reuse this content. Granberg and John F. Galliher demonstrate how social scientists have strayed from the ethical standards of scientific research. Table of contents Chapter 1.

Plagiarism by Thin Editing Chapter Controversy over Five Dimensions of Religiosity Chapter Allegations of Homosexual Arousal Chapter An Interference with Breathing Study Chapter Simulated Crash Landing Chapter Recent Adventures in Crime Fighting Chapter Conclusions show more. Review quote A Most Human Enterprise is an exceptional academic work that combines historical data and personal narrative in creative and meaningful ways. They have chosen the famous as well as the more typical examples of ethical dilemmas in the social sciences, and highlighted the critical issues.

Our point is not to deny that fraudulent behavior among scientists is unusual, but rather to emphasize the fact that science is the product of human activity, and as such it inevitably involves a wide variety of value-laden choices and judgements, many of which have ethical dimensions. What is science?

Making Sense of Minerva Controversy and the NSCC – Items

Professor John Ziman of the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, one of the most influential writers on the practice of science, points out that definitions given by professional scientists, historians of science, philosophers of science, and representatives of other related disciplines tend to emphasize different aspects of the subject, often with quite different policy implications. Historians are prone to view science as the accumulation of knowledge, stressing its archival aspect as a significant historical process worthy of special study.

Ziman concludes that: " It is indeed the product of research; it does employ characteristic methods; it is an organized body of knowledge; it is a means of solving problems. The fact that the practice of science is a human social activity is a central theme of a booklet entitled "On Being a Scientist," initially published in This booklet was written by the Committee on the Conduct of Science under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences as a description of the scientific enterprise for students who are about to begin to do scientific research.

The reader is instructed that:. Scientists have a large body of knowledge that they can use in making decisions.

Making Sense of Minerva Controversy and the NSCC

Yet much of this knowledge is not the product of scientific investigation, but instead involves value-laden judgements, personal desires, and even a researcher's personality and style. Debunked is the notion of a rigid Baconian scientific method by which scientists derive truth about the universe by making observations with no preconceptions about what they may discover.

Instead the authors claim that Some scientists postulate many hypotheses and systematically set about trying to weed out the weaker ones. Others describe their work as asking questions of nature: "What would happen if?

A Most Human Enterprise

Why is it that? Others develop a specific hypothesis or conjecture that they then try to verify or refute with carefully structured observations. Rather than following a single scientific method, scientists use a body of methods particular to their work.

A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences
A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences
A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences
A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences
A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences

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