The ConScience App

An open debate on common dilemma’s for scientists

On 4 October, the flippant science satire The ConScience App was the starting point for a debate on common dilemma’s within the scientific workplace. For example, how to handle the listing of co-authors? How to assess the work of competitors? How to keep the balance between one’s own work and supervising PhD candidates, given the time pressure? Or the tradeoff between publication pressure and your quality standards?

By programming this theatre play and organising an ensuing discussion moderated by Finn Wynstra (professor of Purchasing and Supply Management) and with panelists Marius van Dijke (endowed professor of behavioural ethics) and Patrick Groenen (professor of statistics), ERIM wanted to bring the public debate on research integrity practices and on the wider theme of ‘Responsible Research’ behaviour and thus contribute to a climate in which researchers keep each other on edge.

The ensuing debate was lively and brought up issues like individual vs. collective efforts and/or successes; the effect of a few top publications vs. a lot of mediocre publications; and ideas like a research integrity course or the idea that a mid-term tenure review tends to be similar to the final tenure review. As to peer review activities, they should become much more visible and become part of the appraisal talks. Also, there was a general call for more openness and for actively promoting to give feedback, which admittedly is one of the most difficult things to do. But there was a general consensus amongst the audience that we need to hold each other accountable for our activities.