“Scientists are people of very dissimilar temperaments doing different things in very different ways. Among scientists are collectors, classifiers and compulsive tidiers-up; many are detectives by temperament and many are explorers; some are artists and others artisans.

There are poet-scientists and philosopher-scientists and even a few mystics” (Medawar, 12 from NAS).

The practice of science has too many different angles and its practitioners are too diverse to be captured in a single overarching description. Researchers collect and analyze data, develop hypotheses, replicate and extend earlier work, communicate their results with others, review and critique the results of their peers, train and supervise associates and students, and otherwise engage in the life of the scientific community.

At the heart of the scientific experience is individual insight into the workings of nature or society or, in literature research, into the significance of writings. Many of the outstanding achievements in the history of science grew out of the struggles and successes of individual scientists who were seeking to make sense of the world.

But at the present time an important scientific discovery is seldom an individual achievement.

In sharp contrast to a popular stereotype of science it is not a lonely, isolated search for the truth. With few exceptions, scientific research cannot be done without drawing on the work of others or collaborating with others. It inevitably takes place within a broad social and historical context, which gives substance, direction, and ultimately meaning to the work of individual scientists.

An individual's knowledge properly enters the domain of science only after it is presented to others in such a fashion that they can independently judge its validity. This process occurs in many different ways. Researchers talk to their colleagues and supervisors in laboratories, in hallways, over the telephone and internet. They trade data and speculations over computer networks. They give presentations at seminars and conferences. They write up their results and send them to scientific journals, which in turn send the papers to be scrutinized by reviewers. After a paper is published or a finding is presented, it is judged by other scientists in the context of what they already know from other sources. Throughout this continuum of discussion and deliberation the ideas of individuals are collectively judged, sorted, and selectively incorporated into the consensual but ever evolving scientific worldview. In the process, individual knowledge is gradually converted into generally accepted knowledge.

This ongoing process of review and revision is critically important. It minimizes the influence of individual subjectivity by requiring that research results be accepted by other scientists. It also is a powerful inducement for researchers to be critical of their own conclusions because they know that their objective must be to try to convince their ablest colleagues.

The competition among scientists, claiming priority for a discovery, may take a terrible shape. It takes some time for the young scientist, before he/she recognizes also that competitors can become good friends for life. Competition may change partly into collaboration by mutual understanding and especially respect. The simultaneous competing and collaborating scientists can be named 'rival collaborators'. If such a relationship can be established it is one of the most valuable experiences in human relations.

But even among best friends arguments may arise at regular intervals. Scientists are mentally rather promiscuous, changing partners if the progress of their research requires it. And former mutual agreements, seldom made in writing, may be neglected in haste.

Venomous competition is in particular a phenomenon observed with mediocre scientists, who are fighting for their position in the middle hierarchy. But occasionally it also occurs among the top scientists who are looking forward to receiving a Nobel prize. Nevertheless with some really important discoveries the one who was just a little late by publishing or reaching the ultimate result, also received the honor. Several Nobel prizes have been shared by scientists who did their discoveries independently.

Competition is nerve racking and elderly scientists will remember that in the past to prevent it, scientists made bargains to reserve for themselves a certain field of research.

This is obsolete.

But in some sense one can still observe this claiming of territory on the borders of disciplines, with respect to the value that should be given to the arguments of somebody who passes the border without a 'certificate'.

A biophysicist is neither a biologist nor a physicist and he/she may suffer from lack of recognition in both disciplines. Fortunately, biophysics has developed into a sub-discipline of its own. So is molecular biology, after many years of ignorance by chemists, physicists and biologists.

Mathematicians going into biology or literature sciences, physicists moving into economy, still suffer from allegations that they go beyond their depth, whereas from the history of science it is quite clear that daring infiltration of one discipline by another has greatly contributed to the progress of science.

In the current social structure of sciences, this has not always been sufficiently recognized.It is a challenge to our young generation of scientists in the view of GSP not to accept always what the scientific establishment orders. But charlatans are never accepted under GSP; competence is the first requisite.

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