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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Maximise the Return on Ethics Consultations by Minimising Deficit Thinking

It has become commonplace for representatives from industry to be involved in discussions about the broader social issues surrounding science and technology. For many people this may involve requests to participate in public engagement exercises, ethical consultations and policy-making procedures. These exercises are designed to create transparent and engaged relationships between science, industry and the public. They are imagined to hold potential commercial benefits that include the promotion of novel technologies in society, as well as the fostering of public confidence in industry. However, achieving these gains is contingent upon confronting the complex relationship between science and society. In this article, we will examine how deeply embedded assumptions about knowledge and expertise may curtail the potential to achieve positive outcomes through participation and engagement.

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By Dr Andrew Smart, Sociology Research Officer for the Oxford Genetics Knowledge Park and Dr Kevin E Jones, Senior Research Associate with the Programme on Understanding Risk at Brunel University

Dr Andrew Smart is the Sociology Research Officer for the Oxford Genetics Knowledge Park, based at The Ethox Centre, University of Oxford. His work is focused on the social aspects of human genetics research. He is currently exploring the social implications of translating genetics research into clinical practice. In his previous research, he has examined the commercial and clinical development of pharmacogenetics, and mass media coverage of the ethical, legal and social implications of human genetics.


Dr Kevin E Jones is a Senior Research Associate with the Programme on Understanding Risk at Brunel University. His current research investigates the relationship between social exclusion and public perceptions of risk and science. Kevin has written widely on a variety of scientific controversies, including the debate over agricultural biotechnology, the management of BSE in the UK and the introduction of growth hormones in the North American dairy industry.

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Dr Andrew Smart
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Dr Kevin E Jones
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