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Angeliki Kerasidou and colleagues have published a paper in BMC Medical Ethics which explores how researchers should act when pursuing actual, societal changes based on their academic work.

Research proactively and deliberately aims to bring about specific changes to how societies function and individual lives fare. However, in the ever-expanding field of ethical regulations and guidance for researchers, this consideration seems to have passed under the radar.

The paper draws attention to how the transition from pursuing impact within the scientific community and trying to achieve impact within society ought to be configured, and the ethical challenges inherent in this transition.

The authors suggest a four-step strategy to identify, discuss and constitute consensus-based boundaries to this academic activity. They recommend this strategy should involve a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, advisors from the humanities and social sciences, as well as discussants from funding institutions, ethical committees, politics and the society in general.

Bærøe, K., Kerasidou, A., Dunn, M. et al. Pursuing impact in research: towards an ethical approach. BMC Med Ethics 23, 37 (2022).