Bergen Summer Research School

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Ethical challenges related to publication

Friday 21 June, 08:30 - 10:00, Bergen Resource Centre for International Development, Jekteviksbakken 31

The first of three morning seminars at BSRS 2013 takes on the issue of ethics in relation to open access, citation impact, and other aspects of research publication. What is citation impact and why is it so important for researchers? Does it reflect the scientific merits of a given paper?

What exactly is open access, and what is the significance of this movement for the future of scientific research? As journal subscription fees have risen sharply, many university libraries and researchers find themselves cut off from essential scientific literature. This has led to calls for the removal of price barriers, as the advancement of science depends on the diffusion of knowledge. Governments have also mandated that published research be open access, based on the point of view that publicly financed research should be available to the public. In light of this is it justifiable to keep existing profit structures in place? On the other hand, who will cover the costs? Could open access compromise quality assurance, as the peer-review process can be both costly and time consuming? Could we see an increasing number of fake academic journals? What influence does open access have on citation impact?

Quality assurance is also relevant for the issue of scientific misconduct, including fabrication, falsification, plagiarism and misrepresentations of authorship. What mechanisms are in place to prevent and uncover such practices? Are national and international standards for independent investigations the answer? Should we focus on courses in research ethics as part of doctoral programmes? Are we dependent on whistle blowers, i.e. those who see and report cases of misconduct? What could be done to protect their reputations and careers?

All of these questions will be explored in introductory presentations and a subsequent panel discussion.

The journal Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics has an issue on "the use and misuse of bibliometric indices in evaluating scholarly performance". Click here to read it (open access).

Discussion leader:

Øyvind Gjerstad, Communications advisor, UiB Global, Division of Research Management


  • Howard Browman, Principal Research Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Bergen
  • Ingrid Cutler, Adviser for Scientific Publishing Resources, University of Bergen Library
  • Matthias Kaiser, Head of Department, Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, UiB
  • Susanne Mikki, Senior Academic Librarian, University of Bergen Library

As representatives of the University of Bergen Library, Ingrid Cutler and Susanne Mikki will share their extensive knowledge of matters such as open access and bibliometrics, which are of crucial importance for researchers who wish to disseminate their work.

Howard Browman is a biological oceanographer, limnologist, and sensory ecologist. In addition to his research activities he is respectively editor-in-chief and section editor of two scientific journals. He is also a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics.

Matthias Kaiser is an expert on the philosophy of science, ethics of science and technology assessment. He is currently a member of the editorial boards for four peer reviewed journals, and has served on a number of national and international research ethics committees.



Can Research Be Independent When Funding Is Not?

Monday 24 June, 08:30 - 10:00, Bergen Resource Centre for International Development, Jekteviksbakken 31

During the second morning seminar of BSRS 2013 we will discuss the conditions for independent research within different models of financing. What role do private actors play in the research they finance? What is the importance of political priorities for researchers who apply for funding from public institutions? A central point for discussion will be the potential conflicts of interest arising when corporations or agencies have an interest in obtaining certain scientific results. However this is not a problem which is limited to privately funded research. In a 2005 study published in Nature, 15.5 per cent of 3,247 US-based and publicly funded scientists admitted to having “[changed] the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source”.

In addition to the risk of conflicts of interest, a central point for discussion will be the future of scientific diversity and basic research in a time where science is expected to yield financial and societal gains. Is there a place – and appropriate funding – for the social sciences and the humanities, which increase our understanding of society and the human condition, often with no apparent potential for economic or technological applications? Is there a place for research motivated by curiosity? This is not only a question of principle, as basic research has in fact provided technological gains in the long term. As an example, over a hundred years ago mathematicians conducted research which had no application at the time, but which allowed for the development of computers several decades later. In light of the history of science, could a focus on immediate rewards be self-defeating?

Discussion leader:

Øyvind Gjerstad


  • Benedicte Carlsen, Uni Rokkan Centre, Bergen
  • Jutta Dierkes, Department of Clinical Medicine, UiB
  • Ottar Nygård, Department of Clinical Science, UiB

Benedicte Carlsen has a background in social anthropology and a PhD in medicine from the University of Bergen. Her research focuses on regulatory health care frameworks, clinical practice and doctor-patient relations. Carlsen currently heads three research projects, two of which are financed by the Research Council of Norway.

Jutta Dierkes is Professor of clinical nutrition at UiB. Her research interests include randomized controlled trials with micronutrients, dietary intervention studies (dyslipidemia, vitamin deficiencies, end-stage renal disease, obesity) and observational cohort studies. Dierkes is one of the course leaders for 'Micronutrient Research for Global Health' at this year's Bergen Summer Research School.

Ottar Nygård is a cardiologist and nutritional expert. He has been principal investigator of numerous clinical studies at the Haukeland University Hospital. Many of his studies have been published in high ranking medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine.



Science Communication Outside Academia

Wednesday 26 June, 08:30 - 10:00, Bergen Resource Centre for International Development, Jekteviksbakken 31

Science has long enjoyed an unrivalled status as a producer of knowledge, but popularised accounts of scientific findings tend to simplify the complexities of the issues and leave out the uncertainties involved. The fear of oversimplification can often create tensions between researchers and journalists who report on their work, and may deter researchers from engaging in science communication themselves. What is it about scientific discourse that makes it difficult for even scientists to communicate the results of their work to the public?

Furthermore, during the last few years science has seen its credibility challenged. Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus on man-made climate change, there is little political mobilisation on the issue, and a significant minority of the public in the Global North remain sceptical. Some even actively work to undermine the veracity of climate science. Why do climate researchers have difficulties getting through to politicians and the public? Is it a psychological issue, where crisis scenarios are rejected because people are less receptive to negative messages? Is it because climate change is still largely foreign to the daily experiences of people in the Global North? Is it related to the growth of internet blogs and social media, through which oversimplified and misconstrued narratives of complex issues can gain traction? Is it fundamentally about the difficulties with the scientific concept of uncertainty, which has been exploited by climate change sceptics and deniers?

Discussion leader:

Øyvind Gjerstad


  • Trine Dahl, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH)
  • Helge Drange, Geophysical Institute, UiB / Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen
  • Peter Kareiva, the Nature Conservancy, Seattle, USA

Trine Dahl is professor of English linguistics. During the last twelve years she has studied the linguistic and discursive properties of scientific papers in the fields of medicine, economics and linguistics. Among the phenomena she has investigated are authors’ interactions with readers and their presentations of knowledge claims. More recently she has investigated the rhetorical properties of policy texts pertaining to climate change. 

Helge Drange is a climate scientist. His research is primarily focused on Earth System Modelling, development of ocean general circulation models, analysis of inter-annual to decadal variability in the Atlantic-Arctic sector, and sea level variability and change. He also gives climate presentations for the general public, industry and governmental agencies on a regular basis, and spends some time on the public global warming debate.

Dahl and Drange are part of the research project Linguistic representations of climate change discourse and their individual and collective interpretations (LINGCLIM), funded by the Research Council of Norway. The aim of the project is to find the connection between language use about climate and the individual and collective interpretations of these accounts. In order to do this LINGCLIM are developing an interdisciplinary methodology, involving researchers from linguistics, political science, psychology and the natural sciences.

Peter Kareiva is the chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy. His current projects emphasize the interplay of human land-use and biodiversity, resilience in the face of global change, and marine conservation. He believes that general communications and writing are essential in science, and has written (with Dr. Michelle Marvier of Santa Clara University) the conservation textbook Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature (Roberts & Company 2010). Peter Kareiva is one of this year’s BSRS keynote speakers. Click here for more information.