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Rethinking scientific responsibility
  1. Annika Forssén1,
  2. Eivind Meland2,
  3. Irene Hetlevik3,
  4. Roger Strand4
  1. 1Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Division of Family Medicine, Umeå University, and Department of Research and Development, Norrbotten County Council, Luleå, Sweden
  2. 2Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  3. 3Research Unit for General Practice, Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
  4. 4Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Professor Annika Forssén, Department of Research and Development, Norrbotten County Council, 971 89 Luleå, Sweden; annika.forssen{at}


Researchers should be made co-responsible for the wider consequences of their research focus and the application of their findings. This paper describes a meta-reflection procedure that can be used as a tool to enhance scientific responsibility and reflective practice. The point of departure is that scientific practice is situated in power relations, has direction and, consequently, power implications. The contextual preconditions and implications of research should be stated and discussed openly. The reflection method aims at revealing both upstream elements, such as for instance preconceptions, and downstream elements, for example, public consequences of research. The validity of research might improve from such discussions. Validity should preferably be understood as a broader concept than the methodological concerns in science.

  • Education/programmes
  • ethical dilemmas
  • ethics
  • philosophy of medicine
  • research
  • scientific research
  • social control of science/technology
  • social responsibility

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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