are creating new challenges for the scientific community. The numbers of trained researchers and exciting research opportunities have grown faster than have available financial resources, which has increased the pressure on the research system and on individual scientists. Research endeavors are becoming larger, more complex, and more expensive, creating new kinds of situations and relationships among researchers. The conduct of research is more closely monitored and regulated than it was in the past. The part played by science in society has become more prominent and more complex, with consequences that are both invigorating and stressful.
To nonscientists, the rich interplay of competition, elation, frustration, and cooperation at the frontiers of scientific research seems paradoxical. Science results in knowledge that is often presented as being fixed and universal. Yet scientific knowledge obviously emerges from a process that is intensely human, a process indelibly shaped by human virtues, values, and limitations and by societal contexts. How is the limited, sometimes fallible, work of individual scientists converted into the enduring edifice of scientific knowledge?
The answer lies partly in the relationship between human knowledge and the physical world. Science has progressed through a uniquely productive marriage of human creativity and hard-nosed skepticism, of openness to new scientific contributions and persistent questioning of those contributions and the existing scientific consensus. Based on their observations and their ideas about the world, researchers make new observations and develop new ideas that seem to describe the physical, biological, or social world more accurately or completely. Scientists engaged in applied research may have more utilitarian aims, such as improving the reliability of a semiconductor chip. But the ultimate effect of their work is the same: they are able to make claims about the world that are subject to empirical tests.
The empirical objectivity of scientific claims is not the whole story, however. As will be described in a moment, the reliability of scientific knowledge also derives partly from the interactions among scientists themselves. In engaging in these social interactions, researchers must call on much more than just their scientific understanding of the world. They must also be able to convince a community of peers of t he correctness of their concepts, which requires a fine understanding of the methods, techniques, and social conventions of science.
By considering many of the hard decisions that researchers make in the course of their work, this booklet examines both the epistemological and social dimensions of scientific research. It looks at such questions as: How should anomalous data be treated? How do values influence research? How should credit for scientific accomplishments be allocated? What are the borderlines between honest error, negligent error, and misconduct in science?
These questions are of interest to more than just the scientific community. As the influence of scientific knowledge has grown throughout society, nonscientists have acquired a greater interest in assessing the validity of the claims of science. With science becoming an increasingly important social institution, scientists have become more accountable to the broader society that expects to benefit from their work.