Everybody Act Normal

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Podcast: The Black Goat
Episode: Everybody Act Normal
Pub date: 2019-10-16

Scientists have to follow a lot of rules. We have IRB rules, journal submission rules, university rules – lots of rules. But some of the most important rules in science aren’t rules at all – they are norms. Guiding principles that shape the work we do. In this episode, we discuss a classic paper by the sociologist Robert Merton on 4 norms that govern scientific work. Are these norms an expression of scientific values, or just a means to an end? How well do scientists follow them, individually or collectively? Is science doing as well today as Merton thought it was back in 1942 – and is following these norms really the way to make science work right? Plus: We answer a letter about question to ask a prospective PhD advisor.


The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at [email protected]. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 67. It was recorded on October 8, 2019.

The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.

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