The YSJ Policy and Ethics team is a new and interdisciplinary venture based on the premise that an ethical foundation is not just a hallmark, but a necessary condition of scientific exploration. Given the challenges faced both by society at large and scientists in this millennium, there is no better time than now to expand our horizons at YSJ. Led by myself and Senior Editor Kathi Thome, our team is comprised of a dynamic group of accomplished young scientists, passionate about how science shapes the world we live in.
Our team has two overarching objectives: firstly, to explore the complex web of issues at the intersection of science and society and, secondly, set an organisation-wide ethics policy for YSJ authors and editors. By doing so, we ensure that we promote both external scholarship in policy and ethics, as well as an internal understanding that we are all bound by the same standards that rightfully regulate scientific research and progress around the world.
The society and world in which we live is constantly evolving through innovation, with transformational breakthroughs that, just decades ago, would have been unimaginable. Yet with these advances come the corresponding ethical questions of intention versus actual use. The investigation of subatomic particles led to a greater understanding of our physical world, yet it also catalysed a generation of nuclear defense research. Advances in computer science have led to the Internet of Things, yet the very same tools have been used to threaten the foundations of democracy through election-meddling. Gene editing techniques like CRISPR-Cas9 have the amazing ability to potentially cure genetic diseases, yet they can also be used to manipulate the human genome for profit (i.e. “designer babies”). These and similar topics will be explored in YSJ through original research, review, and opinion articles written, submitted, peer reviewed, and published by young scientists (just like you!) as well as by blog posts written by the Policy and Ethics Team.
As young scientists, on a more microcosmic level, we must hold ourselves and our research to the same standards and international norms that naturally engulf academia and industry. Recently, several eminent scientists have been caught in scandals for forging or misrepresenting results, not disclosing industry ties, animal cruelty, and more. Science cannot exist without ethics! Policies ranging from plagiarism and article submission to animal models and human participants to conflicts of interest and copyrights will be carefully authored and implemented by our team. The abridged version of this policy will be enclosed in a future issue!
We hope you enjoy this new venture, whether through just reading or submitting your own ideas, and that we can together contribute to a better society through informed policy-making with an ethical foundation.
About the Author
Rahul is the founding Executive Policy and Ethics Editor at YSJ, where he has been a team member since 2013. He is a second-year student at Duke University, where he is majoring in Biology and Global Health and minoring in Political Science.