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Contract cheating will erode trust in science – Nature (Tracey Bretag | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 13, 2019
 

To combat academic dishonesty, focus on educational systems and not just individual offenders, says Tracey Bretag.

Stories of students paying others to do their work come from all around the world. In the 2015 MyMaster scandal in Australia, hundreds of students who were enrolled in more than a dozen universities paid a total of at least Aus$160,000 (US$108,000) to a ‘service’ that provided ghost-written essays and responses to online tests. In 2018, YouTube stars on more than 250 channels received money for promoting a cheating service called EduBirdie. Similar companies have been uncovered in the United States and elsewhere. Scientists should not deceive themselves: they are not immune.

Part of a series that we call “KPI=Key Perverse Incentives”. Our current system aids and abets the worst behaviour rather than promoting scholarship for improving the world.

Academics call this ‘contract cheating’. My colleagues and I have assembled what is, to our knowledge, the largest data set on the topic — with responses from some 14,000 students and 1,000 teachers across 8 Australian universities. We found that roughly 6% of students have engaged in the practice; that most who cheat do so more than once; and that both post- and undergraduate students engage in it. Cheating is not new, but the proliferation of commercial, online services in the past 5–10 years has made it easier than ever.
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And cheating is becoming increasingly normal. Since the 1990s, universities around the world have reimagined themselves as commercial enterprises that promote educational ‘products’ to student ‘consumers’. In 2017, a commentator likened the brash marketing strategies of some UK universities to the advertising of shampoo, and hundreds of academic papers have openly criticized the ‘marketization’ of higher education. It’s no wonder students opt to take the most convenient route to an academic credential — just as they would shop around for any other deal. In our survey, more than one-third of teachers specifically blamed contract cheating on the commercialization of higher education.
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Former GP Spurs 20+ Retractions Over Forced Transplants From Chinese Prisoners – Medspace (Diana Swift | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 29, 2019
 

In her second career as a bioethicist, a former general practitioner is reshaping the scientific literature of organ transplantation.

From 1983 to 2000, Wendy Rogers, BMBS, practiced primary care medicine in different settings in the United Kingdom and Australia. In the latter country, the single mother of two grew disillusioned with the fee-for-service system, so while she was pondering her future, she decided to change course, leaving practice to take a degree in English literature and philosophy that led to a doctorate in philosophy.

Medicine’s loss was medical ethics’ gain. Now a professor of clinical ethics at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, Rogers’ work to draw attention to scientific research that used organ transplants from executed prisoners in China have led to at least 20 retractions, and counting.

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(Australian case) A researcher with 30 retractions and counting: The whistleblower speaks – Retraction Watch (Artemisia Stricta | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 24, 2019
 

Retraction Watch readers who have been following our coverage of retractions by Ali Nazari may have noticed that an anonymous whistleblower was the person who flagged the issues for journals and publishers. That whistleblower uses the pseudonym Artemisia Stricta, and we’re pleased to present a guest post written by him or her.

Something is seriously out of place with the roughly 200 publications by Ali Nazari, a scientist at Swinburne University who studies structural materials. Some of these problems have been known by journals and publishers for years — some since 2012 — yet their response has been mixed. Some have retracted papers. Some have decided not to, so far. And others have been mum.

The issues are serious enough to call into question the reliability of Nazari’s entire body of work. During 2010-2012, around 30 of Nazari’s papers duplicated images from Li et al. 2004, reporting that the materials had been produced by his group. The images, whose scale, orientation, brightness and contrast has been changed from the originals, reportedly represented materials different from those in Li et al.

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(Australia) UNSW skin cancer researcher Levon Khachigian hit with string of retractions – ABC News (Elise Worthington and Kyle Taylor | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 20, 2019
 

Levon Khachigian cuts an imposing figure in the hallways of the UNSW School of Medical Sciences.

This disheartening case isn’t the first time it has been suggested an independent national body should investigate allegations of research misconduct, that Australia’s approach has an inherent conflict of interest problem and something needs to change.

The 55-year-old cell biologist rose to the top of the university’s academic hierarchy, on a salary package once worth more than $250,000 a year.
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In the elite world of academia, where prestige is driven by publication in top scientific journals and research funding is scarce, Professor Khachigian has been a big earner, bringing more than $23 million in funding to the university over his three-decade career.

The cancer and cardiovascular researcher was once regarded as a rising star on the brink of a breakthrough treatment for skin cancer.
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Professor Khachigian is the winner of multiple Eureka prizes, widely regarded as the “Oscars” of Australian science, and once told a newspaper that the toughest part of the job was “when a research paper is rejected for publication on whimsical grounds”.

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