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Journal Articles Revue de neuropsychologie Year : 2021

Ethics and Scientific Integrity at the Time of COVID-19


As a preliminary, let us recall, before addressing the questions of ethics and scientific integrity raised by the COVID-19, the astonishment which seized the whole of the French population at beginning of confinement, to the point that we all remained deaf to the warnings issued by our friends in Lombardy, quarantined since February 21, then subjected to confinement which was gradually reinforced the following week, before being extended across Italy, on March 8. Scientific integrity From the beginning of the pandemic, politicians have resorted to a large number of licensed scientists, epidemiologists, data modellers, biologists, doctors, sociologists, etc., to put realistic action plans in place. Taking advantage of the disarray in the population, some charismatic personalities have explained that, in an emergency, we could, or in the name of pragmatism, even had to free ourselves from the rules of research ethics and the usual validation procedures in sciences, to be guided by the intuition of those in the field. Undoubtedly, the need to move as quickly as possible, without letting oneself be slowed down by ancillary considerations, would explain why certain rules are waived in exceptional circumstances. At the same time, the unconditional search for truth among scientists and concern for ethics would prohibit this. In other words, ethics, validation procedures and scientific integrity are not a luxury of aesthetes that one could bypass in a situation as critical as that caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Needless to say, a science which does not respect the required criteria of rigour would lead to erroneous results which would risk misleading decision-makers and deceiving the population by masking the extent and nature of the danger. So, the communication around the therapeutic effects of certain medical treatments, without tangible scientific proof, has given hope for the existence of a miracle cure to a certain number of people who put themselves in danger to acquire it, and might have confused politicians. Note, here too, that the misunderstanding was based on semantics, in this case the confusion between observation and experimentation. To avoid such pitfalls and obtain tangible results, it is necessary to carry out experiments, comply with the rules and submit to peer review procedures which guarantee the reliability of the scientific approach. Contrary to what some might claim, this does not necessarily slow down the dissemination of science, because it is always possible to deposit preprints on open archives and distribute them to the entire scientific community. What is more, in a period of crisis, we can try to shorten the evaluation times for scientific articles somewhat in order to speed up their publication, on condition that the same rigorous requirement is always maintained.
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hal-03245075 , version 1 (01-06-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-03245075 , version 1


Jean-Gabriel Ganascia. Ethics and Scientific Integrity at the Time of COVID-19. Revue de neuropsychologie, In press. ⟨hal-03245075⟩
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