The POIESIS Focus Groups around the UK

April 4, 2024

The LSE POIESIS team Dr Bankole Falade, Hannah Bunt and Professor Martin W Bauer have completed another round of focus groups discussions, this time with professional staff at British universities. In February/March 2024, local co-investigators had invited 6 men and 20 women who joined the conversations in Glasgow, Bristol and Loughborough and at LSE.

We talked about a ‘crisis of trust’ in science-society relations, about the ‘good researcher’ and their fall from grace in misconduct which could jeopardise the reputation of the institution and the research system. Support for research integrity and public engagement were discussed as levers to build, maintain and restore public trust. Each group detailed their own views and activities to support good research and public engagement.

According to the general view, there is little evidence for a crisis of trust in science; but punctually sensitive topics bear public concerns and risks to trust, and media misinformation can fuel this. Misconduct happens but mostly out of incompetence or negligence rather than moral turpitude and malevolence. But the problem might be underestimated and vigilance is called for. Structures are being built and strengthened to monitor, prevent and report incidents of scientific misconduct locally and nationally.  We explored tensions in this emerging system of vigilance, in particular any misalignment between REF [research excellence framework] 2028/29 and efforts to support world class research and effective public engagement.

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