Peer Accountability for Rationale of Impact Statements

by David A. Bella, (M.ASCE), Assoc. Prof.; Civ. Engrg. Dept., Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, Ore.,

Serial Information: Engineering Issues: Journal of Professional Activities, 1978, Vol. 104, Issue 3, Pg. 203-211

Document Type: Journal Paper


Impact assessment is viewed as a product of a social process that involves institutional pressures, conflicting loyalties, peer pressures, and personal doubts. It is reasoned that this social process can be altered in some ways to promote better impact assessments. The sociology of science is reviewed and, from this review, the importance of personal accountability to communities of peers is discussed. It is reasoned that impact assessment should also be considered as a social enterprise where professional accountability to peer communities should be encouraged. Impact assessment communities can evolve shared bodies of knowledge and they can provide recognition and affirmation of good work and those who perform such work. It is reasoned that reviewers of impact statements collectively perform important roles and several recommendations are made to reviewers. These recommendations seek to encourage professional responsibility and peer review, discussion, and dialogue.

Subject Headings: Social factors | Dynamic pressure | Professional practice | Peer review

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