Accountability and the Governance of Expertise : Anticipating Genetic Bioweapons, 2002-2003


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

This collection is made up of 25 semi-structured and open-ended interviews with either commercial and academic research scientists or science policy officials in the UK and US. The interviews discussed a 'case study' into the possible malign applications of research into acetylcholine and muscarinic receptors. Details of this 'case study' are outlined more fully in the user guide. The interviews also took in other research into biological systems and responses to threats associated with biological weapons. Eleven interviews were transcribed, with the remaining 14 summarised in single-page interview notes.

Main Topics:

This project sought to contribute to both social and biological sciences understanding of the relation between science and wider society by examining how scientists, professional associations, funding bodies, and commercial organisations attempt to control and communicate the implications of their research. It considers the potential for current genetics research to facilitate the development of new forms of biological weaponry. The project also sought to understand how notions of expertise, responsibility, and accountability entered into the research agendas of scientists in public, private and policy domains. A key concern was not only how researchers and organisations respond to existing threats about the implications of their work, but how such actors operated in relation to anticipated future risks. Current attempts to establish standards of conduct were scrutinised in terms of their implications for notions of professionalism and the communication practices of researchers.

Purposive selection/case studies

Face-to-face interview

Telephone interview

Metadata Access
Creator Rappert, B., University of Nottingham, School of Sociology and Social Policy; Dando, M., University of Bradford, School of Peace Studies
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2004
Funding Reference Economic and Social Research Council
Rights Copyright Brian Rappert; <p>The Data Collection is available to UK Data Service registered users subject to the <a href="" target="_blank">End User Licence Agreement</a>.</p>
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Text; Semi-structured interview transcripts or interview notes
Discipline Social Sciences
Spatial Coverage England; Scotland; United States