This research was part of the ESRC-funded New Security Challenges programme, and titled Coding Research: Biological Weapons, Security & the Silencing of Science. The grant ran from February 2004 to March 2007, with Brian Rappert as PI and Malcolm Dando as Co-I. The strategic programme later became Global Uncertainties and in 2014 the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme — Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research.


Since 11 September 2001 and the US anthrax attacks, public and policy concerns about the security threats posed by biological weapons haveincreased significantly. As part of this, questions are being asked in many countries about what novel security threats might stem from biological research, how openly results should be communicated, and whether some lines of investigation are too ‘contentious’ to pursue.

With this have come calls from diverse scientific, policy and public quarters to undertake new responsive measures. As part of a strategy of response, many organizations and governments have suggested bioscientists adopt a 'code of conduct' to reduce the security concerns associated with their work as one way of establishing and policing responsibilities and thereby reducing threats associated with malign misuse of science, particularly areas associated with modern biotechnology. In 2005 under the Biological and Toxin Weapon Convention (BTWC), for instance, expert and State Parties Meeting were held to ‘promote common understanding and effective action’ on the ‘content, promulgation, and adoption of codes of conduct for scientists’.



One of the deliverable outcomes of the ESRC project, this website aims to provide resources for those considering the place, purpose and prospects of codes.  It strives to be comprehensive, with the caveat that it is not updated beyond 2010.


The following books were (co)authored by Brian Rappert, within the framework of this project (for more details, see the main publications page):

On Dual Uses of Science and Ethics Experimental secrets Biotech Security Limits Web of Prevention



The workshops intended to seek a broad range of views from the academic, scientific, industrial communities about codes of conduct, and regrettably the summary notes on them are no longer accessible for non-workshop participants; the main rationale being to promote dialogue within such meetings (cf. Chatham House Rule).

  • Seminar organised by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), University of Bradford, and University of Nottingham, on 28 July 2003: “Managing the threat from biological weapons: Science, society and secrecy”.
  • Seminar organised at Lancaster House, on 15 December 2003: “Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention: Code of conduct”.