Scientific priority

Scientific priority

In science, priority is the claim and recognition of first discovery or theory. Fame and honors usually go to the first person or group to publish a new finding, even if several researchers arrived at the same conclusion independently and at the same time.

Priority disputes

Priority becomes a difficult issue usually in the context of priority disputes, where the priority for a given theory, understanding, or discovery comes into question. In most cases historians of science disdain retrospective priority disputes as enterprises which generally lack understanding about the nature of scientific change and usually involve gross misreadings of the past to support the idea of a long-lost priority claim. Historian and biologist Stephen Jay Gould once remarked that "debates about the priority of ideas are usually among the most misdirected in the history of science." [Stephen Jay Gould, "Ontogeny and Phylogeny" (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1977), on 35.]

In the cases of scientists who have since achieved incredible levels of popularity, such as Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, priority questions are often rooted in taking too seriously the myth of the "lone genius" which is often cultivated around such quasi-mythic figures.Or|date=September 2007 In an attempt to laud such scientists as visionaries, the context in which they worked is often neglected by popularizers, making it appear as if they worked without assistance or without reference to other work, something which is rarely the case.


ee also

* List of scientific priority disputes
* Priority right in patent law

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