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We’re All ‘P-Hacking’ Now – Wired (Christie Aschwanden | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 7, 2019

An insiders’ term for scientific malpractice has worked its way into pop culture. Is that a good thing?

It’s got an entry in the Urban Dictionary, been discussed on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, scored a wink from Cards Against Humanity, and now it’s been featured in a clue on the TV game show Jeopardy. Metascience nerds rejoice! The term p-hacking has gone mainstream.

Results from a study can be analyzed in a variety of ways, and p-hacking refers to a practice where researchers select the analysis that yields a pleasing result. The p refers to the p-value, a ridiculously complicated statistical entity that’s essentially a measure of how surprising the results of a study would be if the effect you’re looking for wasn’t there.

Suppose you’re testing a pill for high blood pressure, and you find that blood pressures did indeed drop among people who took the medicine. The p-value is the probability that you’d find blood pressure reductions at least as big as the ones you measured, even if the drug was a dud and didn’t work. A p-value of 0.05 means there’s only a 5 percent chance of that scenario. By convention, a p-value of less than 0.05 gives the researcher license to say that the drug produced “statistically significant” reductions in blood pressure.

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Wildlife Cameras Are Accidentally Capturing Humans Behaving Badly – Nature (James Dinneen | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 25, 2019

Scientists face an ethical dilemma over what to do with their ‘human bycatch’

To study wildlife, Dr. Nyeema Harris, an assistant professor in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Michigan, uses camera traps — remotely triggered cameras that take pictures when they detect movement and body heat. Harris, a wildlife biologist, is not typically interested in humans, but sometimes they still end up in her photographs.

This is another example of researchers who may not be accustomed to thinking about human research ethics matters (in this case wildlife research and accidentally capturing images of people) and the question of how to inform their practice. This is really useful and important discussion. The issues in play are no different to government and others using CCTV, which they do without consent. We have created a somewhat artificial divide between research and real life. Any useful research reflects and interacts with real life. In this case, the capture is identifying some bad behaviour which is useful to know about and to act upon. The social good outweighs privacy rights. We should all be discussing this more.

Between 2016 and 2018, Harris led the first published camera trap survey ever conducted in Burkina Faso and Niger, originally conceived to focus on the critically endangered West African lion. But Harris ended up capturing so much human activity that she expanded the focus of her study to include how humans were using the area. Research on human activity in the wildlife preserve had typically relied on humans reporting their own actions, but with the cameras, Harris could see what they were actually doing. “The data emerged to be a really interesting story that I felt compelled to tell,” Harris says.

Even in studies conducted in remote nature reserves, meant to capture wildlife at its wildest, people showed up.

When camera traps inadvertently capture human activity, it’s called “human bycatch.” And according to a 2018 University of Cambridge study, Harris is far from the only researcher to have ended up with humans in the data. The study included a survey of 235 scientists across 65 countries about their experiences with human bycatch, and 90% of them reported capturing some images of people in their most recent projects. Even in studies conducted in remote nature reserves, meant to capture wildlife at its wildest, people showed up.

As in Harris’s study, this human data doesn’t always stay “bycatch.” Nearly half of respondents to the Cambridge survey said they had used images of people apparently involved in illegal activity to inform wildlife management efforts. Many of them had reported images to law enforcement, others to conservation staff, and some to the media. All this, despite only 8% of projects having set out to capture images of people.

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Enhancing the Taxonomies Relating to Academic Integrity and Misconduct (Papers: Loreta Tauginienė, et al | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 27, 2019

A clear understanding of terminology is crucial in any academic field. When it is clear that complex interdisciplinary concepts are interpreted differently depending on the academic field, geographical setting or cultural values, it is time to take action. Given this, the Glossary for Academic Integrity, newly developed by the European Network for Academic Integrity project, served as the basis for compiling a comprehensive taxonomy of terms related to academic integrity. Following a rigorous coding exercise, the taxonomy was partitioned into three constituent components – Integrity, Misconduct and Neutral terms. A review of relevant literature sources is included, and the strengths and weaknesses of existing taxonomies are discussed in relation to this new offering. During the creation of these artefacts the authors identified and resolved many differences between their individual interpretative understandings of concepts/terms and the viewpoints of others. It is anticipated that the freely-available glossary and taxonomy will be explored and valued by researchers, teachers, students and the general public alike.

Academic integrity, Academic misconduct, Taxonomy, Research integrity, Research misconduct, Qualitative content analysis, Concept analysis

Tauginienė, L., Gaižauskaitė, I., Razi, S. et al. Enhancing the Taxonomies Relating to Academic Integrity and Misconduct. Journal of Academic Ethics.
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Personality and fatal diseases: Revisiting a scientific scandal (Papers: Anthony J Pelosi | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 14, 2019

During the 1980s and 1990s, Hans J Eysenck conducted a programme of research into the causes, prevention and treatment of fatal diseases in collaboration with one of his protégés, Ronald Grossarth-Maticek. This led to what must be the most astonishing series of findings ever published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature with effect sizes that have never otherwise been encounterered in biomedical research. This article outlines just some of these reported findings and signposts readers to extremely serious scientific and ethical criticisms that were published almost three decades ago. Confidential internal documents that have become available as a result of litigation against tobacco companies provide additional insights into this work. It is suggested that this research programme has led to one of the worst scientific scandals of all time. A call is made for a long overdue formal inquiry.

cancer epidemiology, personality and cancer, personality and heart disease, research ethics, research misconduct

Pelosi, A. J. (2019). Personality and fatal diseases: Revisiting a scientific scandal. Journal of Health Psychology, 24(4), 421–439.
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