I am super eager to share with everyone about the Code of Ethics for Researchers that was recently launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos 2018. Last week, at Davos, a panel of esteemed scientists, science communicators, and WEF’s Young Scientists launched a universal Code of Ethics for Researchers. You can view the discussion session here.

WEF Code of Ethics for Researchers

In 2016, my first participation at the Annual Meeting of New Champions, Tianjin, China was also when WEF first held the discussions of developing Code of Ethics for Researchers with the Young Scientist Community. A familiar example is the Hippocratic Oath of medical doctors, where incoming physicians take the oath of upholding specific ethical standards with respect to treating humans. After two years of extensive discussions at meetings and via the online platforms, the first edition of the Code of Ethics is now launched for exploring and endorsing!

The Principles in the Code of Ethics:

  • Engage with the public
  • Pursue the truth
  • Minimize harm
  • Engage with decision-makers
  • Support diversity
  • Be a mentor
  • Be accountable

Download the Code of Ethics here.

As a Young Scientist in the community, we have had several interesting discussions over the issues such as science deniers, fake news, public engagement, trust in science, and other similar concerns. We strongly felt the need to give our stand on our views, and this formed the motivation of why the Code is needed. The excerpt from the website neatly summarises our reflections as a community.

As society gains access to more sources of information and diverging opinions, and as a growing number of reports are throwing the reliability of scientific research into question, scientists are under scrutiny, questioned and mistrusted. This new context gives rise to redefining the social and moral contracts that bind researchers to society and infusing it with the most irreproachable behaviours. Moreover, in an era in which leaders publicly question the consensus of the scientific community, upholding the highest standards of research practice is more important than ever. Any corruption of the scientific process impacts the perceived credibility of important contributions to knowledge, making it harder to engage with the general public, and affecting the ability of scientists to translate discoveries into practical solutions or public policies.

Codes of ethics seek to safeguard these high standards of behaviours and practices. Many examples exist, but so far no code of conduct or ethics that is interdisciplinary and global in its perspective has achieved universal uptake.

The World Economic Forum Young Scientists Community — a group of leading researchers under the age of 40 from diverse fields and all regions of the world — came together to identify and reflect on the cross-cutting ethical issues they are faced with. This universal Code of Ethics is the result of their extensive reflections and consultations with researchers and ethicists. It serves as a tool to nurture a positive change of culture in the research world by not only guiding and shaping the behaviour of individuals but also the processes of the scientific institutions that are to facilitate this cultural shift.

I hope that you will support and endorse this universal Code of Ethics for Researchers! While I admit that it may not be possible to adhere to all of the Principles, I believe small efforts count towards making science trustworthy, accessible and friendly! This is particularly important for civil society, who represents the biggest group of people to reach out and persuade them that science and technology can improve lives and the environment.

More importantly, for the civil society, I hope to reach out and say that these are some guiding principles that we, as researchers, want to follow to our best, and engage meaningfully with you in science.

To view the WEF Code of Ethics for Researchers, please visit this link: http://widgets.weforum.org/coe/#code