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Harassment should count as scientific misconduct – Nature (Erika Marín-Spiotta | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 11, 2018
 

Scientific integrity needs to apply to how researchers treat people, not just to how they handle data, says Erika Marín-Spiotta.

In the past year, allegations of egregious sexual harassment and even assault have emerged across the spectrum of science. Nature has already run several stories on the topic just this quarter.

Sexual harassment in any form is simply unacceptable (irrespective of how successful the perpetrator might be) and can have a toxic impact on careers and lives of everyone it touches. It’s time for it to be discussed in national and institutional research misconduct arrangements.

When I talk to senior scientists, many view harassment as an injustice that happens somewhere else, not in their field or at their institution. But data suggest that the problem is ubiquitous. In separate surveys of tens of thousands of university students across Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, upwards of 40% of respondents say that they have experienced sexual harassment. A survey last year by the US National Postdoctoral Association found that 28% of respondents reported experiencing at least one instance of harassment while they were trainees; offenders were predominantly reported as being faculty or staff members (go.nature.com/2ju83ox). Neither are faculty members safe from mistreatment by colleagues.
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Research culture and policies are quick to denounce plagiarism, data fabrication and mismanagement of funds, yet we have too long ignored the mistreatment of people.
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Why detailed retraction notices are important (according to economists) – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 4, 2018
 

When journals retract a paper but don’t explain why, what should readers think? Was the problem as simple as an administrative error by the publisher, or more concerning, like fraud? In a recent paper in Research Policy, economists led by Adam Cox at the University of Portsmouth, UK, analyzed 55 retractions from hundreds of economics journals, mostly issued between 2001 and 2016. (Does that number sound low? It should — a 2012 analysis of retractions in business and economics found they are a relatively rare occurrence.) In the new paper, Cox and his colleagues analyzed how many notices failed to provide detailed information, the potential costs of these information gaps, and what journals should do about it.

Retraction Watch: You used “rational crime theory” to analyze retraction notices and their consequence to offenders in economics. Could you explain briefly how rational crime theory works in this context?

Adam Cox: Rational crime theory is a framework for explaining why an individual may commit a crime. This involves an (implicit) cost-benefit analysis by (prospective) perpetrators of crime, or in our case, (prospective) perpetrators of research impropriety. If the benefits exceed the costs then a rational individual may be tempted to participate in the crime.

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Nine pitfalls of research misconduct – Science (Aaron D. Robinson | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on May 28, 2018
 

Academic leaders must audit departments for flaws and strengths, then tailor practices to build good behaviour, say C. K. Gunsalus and Aaron D. Robinson.

One of us (C.K.G.) teaches leadership skills and works with troubled departments. At almost every session, someone will sidle up, curious about a case study: they want to know how what happened at their university came to be known externally. Of course, it didn’t.

A recommended read for research centre directors and anyone who facilitates research integrity professional development activities. The point being, there are small missteps that can lead to awful outcomes.

From what we’ve observed as a former university administrator and consultant (C.K.G.) and as a graduate student and working professional (A.D.R.), toxic research environments share a handful of operational flaws and cognitive biases. Researchers and institutional leaders must learn how these infiltrate their teams, and tailor solutions to keep them in check.
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People who enter research generally share several values. Honesty, openness and accountability come up again and again when C.K.G. asks researchers to list what makes a good scientist. The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says that these values give rise to responsibilities that “make the system cohere and make scientific knowledge reliable”1. Yet every aspect of science, from the framing of a research question through to publication of the manuscript, is susceptible to influences that can counter good intentions.
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(UK) ‘Unethical not to’ submit Brexit interviews to MPs, says academic – THE (John Morgan | April 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on May 20, 2018
 

Emma Briant defends actions over exchanges with key figures from Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica parent

An academic who submitted to a UK parliamentary inquiry interviews with key figures from Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica’s parent company – raising questions about how voters were targeted in the European Union referendum – says that it would have been “unethical” not to do so.

This instalment in the frankly alarming saga about Cambridge Analytica raises an important question, especially for social scientists: How to approach confidentiality when we believe there is a higher moral imperative to disclose to an authority? We have included links to a few related items.

Emma Briant, senior lecturer in journalism at the University of Essex, submitted essays and audio files of interviews to the UK’s Electoral Commission, Information Commissioner’s Office and Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee. The DCMS committee published Dr Briant’s material on 16 April as part of its inquiry into “fake news”.
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Dr Briant has since faced suggestions that her decision to hand over the material raises questions about research ethics, particularly in the context of the Economic and Social Research Council’s principles of ethical research, given that those interviewed agreed to contribute to an academic research project.
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