This Charter has been adopted by the first WFSW General Assembly (Prague,1948)

During the past century science has become a principal factor controlling the condition of men’s lives throughout the world. From being the vocation of a secluded few it is now the main occupation and livelihood of some half-million men and women. It affects directly those engaged in teaching and research in the universities, industry and government service, and scarcely less directly millions of others – engineers, doctors and agriculturists whose profession involves the application of scientific knowledge and method.

The rise of the new profession of scientific worker has been so rapid that there has been no time for the slow development of codes of responsibilities and rights, such as have grown up gradually and traditionally in the older professions of medicine and law. The evil results of the neglect of science on the one hand and of its irresponsible use on the other have in recent years been only too plainly felt. One way of preventing them in the future is to ensure that scientific workers have a responsible and recognised place in the community.

As a first step to secure this the World Federation of Scientific Workers is setting out a Charter for Scientific Workers. This is a concise statement, based on the experience of recent years of the responsibilities of scientific workers and of the conditions which must be provided to safeguard the freedom, the advancement and the social utility of science.

The primary responsibility for the maintenance and development of science must lie with the scientific workers themselves, because they alone can understand the nature of the work and the directions in which advance is needed. The responsibility for the use of science, however, must be a joint responsibility of scientific workers and of the people at large. Scientific workers neither have nor claim to have the control over the administrative, economic and technical powers of the communities in which they live. Nevertheless they have a special responsibility for pointing out where the neglect or abuse of scientific knowledge will lead to results detrimental to the community. At the same time, the community itself must be able and willing to appreciate, and to use the possibilities offered by science, which can be achieved only through the widespread teaching of the methods and results of the natural and social sciences.

Scientific workers can adequately carry out their responsibilities to the community if, and only if, they are working under conditions which enable them to make full use of their gifts. The Charter for Scientific Workers attempts to set out what those conditions are, based on the wide and varied experience of the members of the W.F.S.W.

They include, naturally, as the vast majority of scientists today are salaried workers, the recognition of common rights and duties of all workers. The profession of science has in addition certain characteristics of its own. Because science is concerned with finding out new things, the work of the scientist cannot be reduced to a routine. Because the path of discovery depends on the co-operation of many men’s minds, the scientific worker, to be fully effective, must be enabled to communicate with and visit his colleagues throughout the world without hindrance. Secrecy in any form stunts the growth of science and may cause it to wither away completely.

The scientific worker requires a long and costly training. Only a small proportion of the population have the necessary interest and capacity for such work. It is all the more essential that all who have it, whatever their circumstances, should be assisted in their training.


The profession of science, due to the special importance of the consequences of its good or bad use, carries with it special responsibilities over and above those of the ordinary duties of citizenship. In particular, the scientific worker, because he has or can easily acquire knowledge inaccessible to the public, must do his utmost to ensure that that knowledge is employed for good.

These responsibilities, which fall upon scientists either individually or collectively, can be summarised as follows:


1.11 Integrity of scientific work. Resistance to the suppression or distortion of scientific knowledge.

1.12 Full publication of scientific results.

1.13 Co-operation with other scientific workers, regardless of racial or national barriers.

1.14 Securing the growth of science with due regard to the balance between fundamental and applied science.


1.21 To study the implications of science, particularly in their own field, to current economic and social and political problems and to make efforts to ensure that this knowledge is widely understood and acted on.

1.22 To search for new ways of employing science to fight famine and disease and to improve conditions of life and work in all countries without discrimination. To co-operate in doing this with all organisations and individuals having the same ultimate aim.

1.23 To study all aspects of public administration so as to ensure that scientific methods are fully used and to keep people and governments informed of the implications of scientific advances in this field.


1.31 To maintain the international character of science.

1.32 To study the underlying causes of war.

1.33 To aid agencies seeking to prevent war and to build stable bases for peace.

1.34 To work against diversion of scientific effort to war preparations: in particular to the use of science in providing methods of mass destruction.

1.35 To resist movements inspired by anti-scientific ideas such as irrationalism, mystical intuition, racial inequality and the glorification of force.


The conditions necessary for scientific workers to give of their best which are outlined in the rest of this Charter, can only be fully achieved in communities in which they have earned due respect. This respect must be based upon an objective appreciation of the potentialities of science, arising from a recognition of its paramount role in modern society; and an integration of the scientific method and outlook into the way in which the community deals with its social, economic and political problems.

This state of affairs will only be brought about when:

2.1 Science is adequately financed. This implies the provision of funds at a rate much higher than that of the past in most countries – sufficient to utiIise the existing research manpower of the country to the full, and to provide, through recruitment and training increasing numbers of scientific workers.

2.2 The results of research are rapidly developed and applied.

2.3 Research is planned in a way which takes account both of the intrinsic developments of fundamental science and of community needs themselves scientifically assessed.

2.4 Scientific workers participate actively in policy formation at all levels, but especially in the higher levels of industry, legislative bodies, Government and international organisations such as U.N.O.

2.5 Governments support an adequate publicity service for science, which shows what it is doing, and what it can do in the service of mankind.


The opportunityto undertake a scientific career is one that should be available to every child in the world. Not only is it unjust to deprive children by reason of race, sex, social status or nationality of the possibility of contributing to the advancement of knowledge, but it is only in this way that science can be given a broad democratic basis and assured of full and continuous contact, with the people. It is also essential to give some scientific training to all children, whether they are going to do scientific work later or not, as science, which helps them to understand the world and the culture in which they live, is necessary for full education; and as it is important to maintain contact between scientists and their fellow-citizens. In the past, there has been a serious danger of the formation of a narrow caste of scientists because they have been drawn in the main from upper or middle class families and because science developed in the first place in the industrial countries. This has resulted in the narrowing of the sympathies of the scientists themselves and consequently the creation of an attitude of suspicion towards science in the population at large, and particularly among industrial workers and the people of undeveloped countries. This attitude can only be broken down by broadening the basis of scientific recruitment. The tasks for science in the future, if properly developed for human welfare, will be such as will call for a vastly greater number of scientific workers. This greater number can only be provided, without lowering the standard of intelligence, by casting the net of scientific opportunity far more widely. It is therefore essential that the following conditions should be achieved as soon as practicable in the different countries of the world:

3.1 Universal science teaching in schools so that all people can have a background of science and so that potential scientists can be made aware of the existence of the possibility of a scientific career at an early age.

3.2 Free secondary education now for those who show sufficient promise, secondary education for all as soon as facilities become available.

3.31 University training to be open to all persons of proved ability, irrespective of age, without payment of fees, and with adequate financial grants and family allowances to meet living expenses.

3.32 Opportunities for part-time studies until such time as conditions permit 3.31 above to become fully operative; facilities for sufficient time off from employment without financial loss, to secure a reasonable amount of time for rest and recreation.

3.33 Active participation of representative student bodies in the academic as well as in the administrative activities of the universities.

3.34 Courses should include:

3.341 The general cultural and social background of science, the history of science and the role of science in the current world situation.

3.342 Experience in actual everyday problems involving science.

3.35 Curricula and teaching systems should be continuously revised, using scientific methods of evaluation with the emphasis on methods and not on mere accumulation of facts.

3.36 Universities to have adequate facilities for obtaining new graduates in research methods and an adequate number of research scholarships.


The educational policy outlined above would fail in its purpose if there were not full and organised provision for the employment of scientific workers. In the past this has not been the case. Scientific workers at all times in certain countries and at times of economic depression in all, have been unemployed or forced to take employment in occupations where their specific training was not used. Governments should attempt to ascertain the future demand for scientists of various types and take steps to ensure a supply of trained scientists appropriate to the demand. The demand for scientific workers in different categories will not of course be constant and cannot always be accurately assessed. Consequently provision must be made to ensure that suitable employment of all scientists once trained, along the following lines:

4.1 The fullest use to be made of science in all government and industrial enterprises, thus ensuring a constant overall demand for scientific workers.

4.2 Prevention of misemployment, particularly the use of trained scientists for unskilled and repetitive work or work of little value either to the progress of science or to the welfare of the community.

4.3 Opportunities for re-education or training to allow for changes in demand for different types of scientific worker, as, for example, when a particular type of skill or technique is rendered obsolete by advances in other fields of science.

4.4 Opportunities for post-graduate education and further training to keep abreast of advances in a particular field of work.


Scientific work, as any other kind of work, can be carried out effectively only if the status and conditions of scientific workers are such that they can feel secure and give of their best. One aspect of this is due recognition for work done. In addition, however, unless certain conditions and facilities peculiar to scientific work are provided it can easily degenerate into fruitless routine and create the feeling of frustration now so common in scientific work. The claim of scientific workers for special conditions is founded in the special character of their work and not on any idea of intellectual superiority or greater service to the community than any other worker.


5.11 Recognised minimum salaries for all grades without sex differentiation to be determined by collective agreements.

5.12 Minimum salaries not to be below the level of corresponding administrative or medical grades.

5.13 Adequate standard interchangeable superannuation services for scientists in all employments.

5.14 No discrimination against married women.


5.21 Hours of work and holidays should be flexible for scientists and should make provision for further training, conferences etc. (see 4.3)

5.22 Scientists engaged in administrative or teaching duties should be allowed time and facilities for research work, and those engaged in research work should be encouraged to do some teaching.

5.23 Adequate protection facilities and adjustment of hours and holidays for those engaged on hazardous work.


5.31 Library and information services designed to provide the scientific worker with the information he needs in the most suitable form and with the minimum of delay.

5.32 Efficient and rational system of scientific documentation and abstracting.

5.33 Supplies of apparatus, materials and equipment to fulfill the needs of research workers.

5.34 The provision of technical assistance on a scale to ensure the fullest use of the scientific capacities of all scientific workers.

5.35 Assistance for international contacts and travel, especially for younger workers, in exchange of positions, free travel etc.

5.36 Freedom to discuss work freely with other scientists, and to join and participate in the activities of scientific societies at home and abroad without restriction or prohibitive expenditure.


5.41 Right to publish work under the scientist’s own name.

5.42 Appropriate rewards to scientists for inventions which are exploited.

5.43 The immediate abolition of secrecy in all fundamental science and its progressive diminution in industry and national affairs.


The need under modern conditions for a degree of organisation and planning of scientific work far greater than in the past, raises a special problem, the nature of the control of scientific work. If scientific workers are treated as normal administrative or business officials and subjected to the same regulations and control as non-scientists, their work can be almost completely frustrated. It is therefore essential, for the very carrying out of scientific work, that the following conditions be adhered to:

6.1 Direction of detailed scientific work to be in the hands of scientifically trained persons

6.11 Scientific work to be administered by bodies containing representatives elected by scientific workers. These should include all grades of seniority, with a large proportion of active scientific workers.

6.2 Scientists to be represented at the administrative level in all organisations involving scientific work.

6.3 Scientists to have the right to take part in workers’ organisations in all undertakings in which they work.


Science has been most unevenly developed, following closely the evolution of industrial communities and being relatively undeveloped in agricultural ones. We must work for the creation in all countries in as short a time as possible of an indigenous body of scientists working in conditions of political as well as economic liberty. This implies the assistance of scientific workers of the more advanced countries to educate the people and more particularly the potential scientific workers of undeveloped countries. In the meantime it is the responsibility of scientific workers in industrial countries to help the people of undeveloped countries with their urgent problems. To do this the following conditions must be observed:

7.1 Application of science to most pressing local needs, e. g. development and conservation of natural resources, study of local agricultural conditions so that there may be maximum production of varied foodstuffs without soil erosion, attention to problems of health so that the same expectation of lite is looked on as attainable in all parts of the world.

7.2 Provision for interchange of teachers with other countries and for students to study abroad.

7.3 Provision of scientific personnel and equipment from abroad to meet immediate problems on the spot as well as for the training of workers in the country concerned.

7.4 Complete separation of any such schemes from economic and political control by a foreign power.