Mertonian norms

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CUDOS is an acronym used to denote principles that should guide good scientific research. According to the CUDOS principles, the scientific ethos should be governed by Communalism, Universalism, Disinterestedness, Originality and Skepticism.

CUDOS is based on the Mertonian norms introduced in 1942 by Robert K. Merton.[1] Merton described "four sets of institutional imperatives [comprising] the ethos of modern science": "universalism, communalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism."[2] These four terms could already be arranged to form CUDOS, but "originality" was not part of Merton's list.

In contemporary academic debate the modified definition outlined below is the most widely used (e.g. Ziman 2000).[3]

  • Communalism all scientists should have equal access to scientific goods (intellectual property) and there should be a sense of common ownership in order to promote collective collaboration, secrecy is the opposite of this norm. [4]
  • Universalism all scientists can contribute to science regardless of race, nationality, culture, or gender. [5]
  • Disinterestedness according to which scientists are supposed to act for the benefit of a common scientific enterprise, rather than for personal gain. [6]

See also


  1. Merton 1973
  2. Bruce Macfarlane & Ming Cheng (2008). "Communism, Universalism and Disinterestedness: Re-examining Contemporary Support among Academics for Merton's Scientific Norms" (PDF). J Acad Ethics. Springer (6): 67–78. doi:10.1007/s10805-008-9055-y.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Ziman 2000
  4. Merton 1973, pp. 273-5
  5. Merton 1973, p. 270
  6. Merton 1973, pp. 275-277
  7. Merton 1973, pp. 277-8