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Impartiality, or considering information without bias, is important in research, particularly in the social sciences. Because of its subjective nature, social science research depends on the impartiality of researchers, especially in the interpretation of data. In its simplest form, there are multiple examples of impartiality (or lack of it) in the history of science.

During the 20th century, the understanding of scientific impartiality shifted dramatically. In the first half of the century, philosophers and sociologists of science, at least those outside the Marxist tradition, generally agreed on the impartiality of both science and scientists. Logical positivism considered true scientific knowledge as a set of factual judgments, uncontaminated by the scientists’ values. Sociologist Robert K. Merton wrote that scientists shared a social norm of disinterestedness, setting their ...

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