, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 187–192 | Cite as

Transatlantic Divergences in Citizen Science Ethics—Comparative Analysis of the DIYbio Code of Ethics Drafts of 2011

  • Kathleen EgglesonEmail author
Critical Discussion Notes


Codes of ethics were drafted by participants in the European and North American Congresses of DIYbio, a single global organization of informal biotechnology practitioners, in 2011. In general, the existence of a code of ethics amongst a community is itself significant. Codes of professional ethics are common in scientific and engineering fields, as well as in DIY communities. It is also significant, and highly unusual, that DIYbio has maintained two separate codes of ethics years after their drafting. While agreement was reached within the congress for each geographic region, with considerable commonality between the two codes drafted, they are far from identical. There are differences in the ordering of items, the wording of common items, and the presence/absence of items. I will argue that these differences are meaningful, and consider them with respect to cultural variation, ethics, and societal implications. Finally, I recommend that the entire DIYbio organization unite under a single code of ethics, and that one of the existing drafts is superior to the other for this purpose.


Biocomplexity Biohacker Biotinker Citizen science Code of ethics DIYbio iGEM Open access Synthetic biology Transatlantic 


  1. 1.
    Davies L, Razlogova E (2013) Framing the contested history of digital culture. Radic Hist Rev 117:5–31Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ledford H (2010) Life hackers. Nature 467:650–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Leshner AI (2003) Public engagement with science. Science 299:977CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    McKenna, P. (2009) Amateur biologists play with DNA: A do-it-yourself movement is hoping to open up synthetic biology to anyone with a passion for tweaking DNA. New Scientist, 201:2688, 20–21Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Powell, M. C. & Colin, M. (2009) Participatory paradoxes: Facilitating citizen engagement in science and technology from the top-down? Bulletin of Science, Technology, & Society, 29:4, 325–342Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    PR Newswire (2010) Responsible science for do-it-yourself biologists, Cenage Learning, Inc., June 29Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Smiles, S. (1859) Self-Help; with illustrations of character and conduct, accessed via project Gutenberg at

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Nano Science and TechnologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

Personalised recommendations