p. 520). The disciplines have traditionally provided the vital connections between scientific knowledge and its social organization. Scientific societies and scientific journals, some of which have tens of thousands of members and readers, and the peer review processes used by journals and research sponsors are visible forms of the social organization of the disciplines.
The power of the disciplines to shape research practices and standards is derived from their ability to provide a common frame of reference in evaluating the significance of new discoveries and theories in science. It is the members of a discipline, for example, who determine what is “good biology” or “good physics” by examining the implications of new research results. The disciplines' abilities to influence research standards are affected by the subjective quality of peer review and the extent to which factors other than disciplinary quality may affect judgments about scientific achievements. Disciplinary departments rely primarily on informal social and professional controls to promote responsible behavior and to penalize deviant behavior. These controls, such as social ostracism, the denial of letters of support for future employment, and the withholding of research resources, can deter and penalize unprofessional behavior within research institutions.7
Many scientific societies representing individual disciplines have adopted explicit standards in the form of codes of ethics or guidelines governing, for example, the editorial practices of their journals and other publications.8 Many societies have also established procedures for enforcing their standards. In the past decade, the societies' codes of ethics—which historically have been exhortations to uphold high standards of professional behavior —have incorporated specific guidelines relevant to authorship practices, data management, training and mentoring, conflict of interest, reporting research findings, treatment of confidential or proprietary information, and addressing error or misconduct.
The methods by which individual scientists and students are socialized in the principles and traditions of science are poorly understood. The principles of science and the practices of the disciplines are transmitted by scientists in classroom settings and, perhaps more importantly, in research groups and teams. The social setting of the research group is a strong and valuable characteristic of American science and education. The dynamics of research groups can foster —or inhibit—innovation, creativity, education, and collaboration.