News - November 17, 2011

‘Researchers have to be accountable'

Astrid Smit

Adri van den Brink follows Herman Eijsackers as chair of the Ethics Committee at Wageningen UR.

 Van den Brink thinks more attention should be paid to the way research results are communicated. This is a reference to recent media controversies about recent Wageningen research such as the dairy study and the bee mortality study. Wageningen researchers have an obligation to be accountable. If you aim for social impact, you can expect to be challenged. So you must be aware that you'll get responses from the public that are different to what you had in mind.'
Ethics course
As professor of Landscape Architecture and of Land Use Planning, Van den Brink had first-hand experience of ethical issues related to the planning and design of outdoor spaces. Researchers should be aware of the ethical dimensions of their research, he feels. And this applies to education as well. ‘I am thinking of starting courses for PhD students. There are still supervisors who don't think the ethical dimension is important. That is a pity. You should be aware of the impact research can have on society.'
The Ethics Committee advises the Executive Board on scientific ethics and has drawn up a Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice.