The notion that scientists have a responsibility to society that goes beyond their responsibilities to the profession is long-standing. Yet, there is no consensus on what the content and scope of social responsibilities are or ought to be. While there is a growing literature concerning the issues encapsulated by the phrase “social responsibility of scientists,” a review of that literature reveals many and sometimes competing views, and the lack of data to inform the discussion.
It is within this context that the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition and the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program decided to develop and distribute an online questionnaire to scientists, engineers and health professionals internationally. The primary aim was to learn their perspectives on the nature and scope of their responsibilities and to identify any apparent similarities and differences in perspectives according to multiple demographic variables. This initial data gathering exercise was seen by the Coalition and SRHRL staff as a means to inform a follow-up survey of the international scientific community that would be more representative and scientifically rigorous.