In 2015 the world was celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the General Theory of Relativity. As a result of the revolution touched off by Albert Einstein, science has begun to exert a greater influence than in previous epochs on all facets of human life – from philosophy and politics, to art and pop-culture. The past century could indeed rightly be called the age of the explosion of science.

The rapid change in the perception of reality, with space and time becoming key concepts, has also had a certain very beneficial effect (thanks to the huge fame that Einstein and his theory enjoyed): as a result, scientists have gained a kind of social authority, becoming credible mediators considered crucial for resolving the problems of the modern age.

It was midway through this extraordinary century that the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS) was created. What function do we serve today?

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Ethics in Science

Very strict professional demands are made of scientists, and they have an important duty to adhere to the highest standards. This has an impact not only on their own further achievements, but also on whether they are recognized by society as authorities, perceived as honest and credible.

“Research workers should constantly strive to broaden their knowledge, and their primary motivation should be a passion to investigate and a desire to advance the frontiers of science. Research workers respect the human right to truthful information and strive to bring that principle to bear in practice.” Since the early 1990s, the PAS Committee for Ethics in Science has created and updated a set of principles, recommendations, and standards that apply to all researchers working in Poland. They are expected to be conscientious, objective, thorough, critical, honest, concerned, and take responsibility for what they say. In 2011 the Science Ethics Committee was appointed within PAS structures.

Its “Code of Ethics for Research Workers”, which the Academy put forward in 2012, also provides guidelines for the handling of research data, research procedures, publication practices, reviewing papers, etc.