The paper shows that current research systems are not geared to organise and evaluate research involving several scientific disciplines. A consequence is exaggerated promises and expectations based on “speculative interdisciplinarity”. These expectations are one cause of “speculative ethics”. Evaluators of interdisciplinary research proposals should be aware of the pitfalls existing in this kind of research. The purpose of this paper is to highlight “speculative interdisciplinarity” as a cause of exaggerated expectations with the result that ethical analysis and similar activities focus on unlikely impacts.
The paper confronts documented statements of champions of emerging technologies with assessments by specialists from the scientific disciplines involved in the development of the technologies and examines the extent to which differences are due to problems with interdisciplinary work.
The paper identifies the causes of exaggerated expectations related to the impact of emerging technologies based on interdisciplinary research. Lack of experience with interdisciplinary research is shown to be a major cause.
This is basically a case study for a spectacular individual example. There is a need to show that the same problems exist for less spectacular scientific endeavours.
Review process organisers and reviewers should be aware that exaggerated expectations can arise as a result of insufficient attention to the organisation of interdisciplinary research. There is a need for studies to confront expectations with the genuine state of research.
The paper highlights a need to pay attention to the organisation of interdisciplinary research.
Rader, M. (2012), "The jobs of others: “speculative interdisciplinarity” as a pitfall for impact analysis", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 4-18. https://doi.org/10.1108/14779961211210621Download as .RIS
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