Navigating the labyrinth: Academic scientists’ responses to new regulatory controls on biological material inputs to research

Eric W. Welch, Gabel Taggart, Mary K. Feeney, Michael Siciliano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Academic scientists who access and use biological materials are embedded in an increasingly complex arrangement of conflicting scientific, commercial, regulatory and ethical institutional logics. This paper examines how scientists navigate and respond to these conflicting institutions. Using in-depth interviews with 40 academic scientists in four fields (marine biology, entomology, agricultural studies, ecology), we undertake a grounded theory approach to identify key categories of individual responses and the drivers of those responses. We find that scientists adopt one or more of five strategies in response to regulatory pressures: acquiescence, compromise, avoidance, defiance, and manipulation. We then leverage the institutional work literature to 1) propose a scientist response framework for understanding how individuals respond to competing logics and changing regulations and 2) demonstrate how individual cognition and effort by academic scientists reconciles (or not) conflicting institutions. We outline implications for policy and practice and conclude with a discussion of future research opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-146
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Volume101
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

Keywords

  • Biological materials
  • Open science
  • Regulations
  • Rules
  • University scientists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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