L’inconduite de la science?

WOLLERAU, SUISSE – La presse se fait de plus en plus l’écho d’impostures, de plagiats, et d’écrivains fantômes dans le domaine scientifique, donnant l’impression que ces mauvais comportements dans la recherche scientifique se généralisent en un mal omniprésent. Mais ces faits relayés relèvent plus d’un sensationnalisme en quête de sujets brulants que d’un compte-rendu juste de la détérioration des valeurs scientifiques.

Loin d’être la norme dans le domaine de la recherche scientifique, tromperies et impostures sont de rares exceptions, et sont habituellement rapidement identifiées par la communauté. Le public d’ailleurs semble le comprendre. Ces révélations d’inconduites n’ont en effet pas véritablement eu de conséquences sur la confiance et l’assurance dans la recherche scientifique. Et ces rares incidents n’ont pas non plus entravé le progrès scientifique, si précieux pour l’espèce humaine.

Ce petit nombre de mauvais comportements par des scientifiques est, bien sûr, de trop. On attend des scientifiques qu’ils soient des symboles d’espoir dans cette quête du savoir – et suffisamment intelligents pour ne pas tenter de s’en tirer par la supercherie. Il existe des mécanismes préventifs pour déterminer les responsables qui en font le pari. Mais alors que la communauté scientifique – y compris les institutions professionnelles et académiques, les responsables d’agences, les gestionnaires et les éditeurs – hésite à prendre en charge les cas d’inconduite de manière rigoureuse, c’est la réputation du monde scientifique dans son ensemble qui est en jeu, et pas uniquement celle d’une seule personne, institution, revue ou entité scientifique nationale.

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