A Quantitative Perspective on Ethics in Large Team Science
Published Web Locationhttps://arxiv.org/abs/1404.0191
The gradual crowding out of singleton and small team science by large team endeavors is challenging key features of research culture. It is therefore important for the future of scientific practice to reflect upon the individual scientist's ethical responsibilities within teams. To facilitate this reflection we show labor force trends in the US revealing a skewed growth in academic ranks and increased levels of competition for promotion within the system; we analyze teaming trends across disciplines and national borders demonstrating why it is becoming difficult to distribute credit and to avoid conflicts of interest; and we use more than a century of Nobel prize data to show how science is outgrowing its old institutions of singleton awards. Of particular concern within the large team environment is the weakening of the mentor-mentee relation, which undermines the cultivation of virtue ethics across scientific generations. These trends and emerging organizational complexities call for a universal set of behavioral norms that transcend team heterogeneity and hierarchy. To this end, our expository analysis provides a survey of ethical issues in team settings to inform science ethics education and science policy.