Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ethics News: Scientists Against Sloppiness

BioCision, a biotech company that develops temperature-controlling products such as special alloy eppendorf tube racks that protect biological samples during rapid and repeated freezing, is launching a tongue-in-cheek campaign with the serious aim of standardizing laboratory practices to ensure the quality of cell and tissue samples. The campaign seeks to get scientists to pay more attention to how biological samples are treated in the lab, as shifts in temperature can have huge effects on the quality of many cell and tissue samples.

The campaign and its web site (which is rather fun to read through) calls needed attention to the "little murders" of everyday science, or the small oversights and misdemeanors that we all are subject to in the lab, such as leaving a sample in a test tube rack on the counter for too long or not being consistent in how we handle each of samples in an experiment. In some cases, these small mistakes can lead to problems down the line in the quality of data. So while samples probably aren't feeling too abused by these practices, the integrity of the final results might be being compromised.

See "Zigmond, Michael and Beth A. Fisher. "The Little Murders of Everyday Science: Commentary on 'Six Domains of Research Ethics.'" Science and Engineering Ethics Volume 8, Number 2, 229-234, DOI: 10.1007/s11948-002-0024-3

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