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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The retraction process needs work. Is there a better way? – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 23, 2018
 

Retractions take too long, carry too much of a stigma, and often provide too little information about what went wrong. Many people agree there’s a problem, but often can’t concur on how to address it. In one attempt, a group of experts — including our co-founder Ivan Oransky — convened at Stanford University in December 2016 to discuss better ways to address problems in the scientific record. Specifically, they explored which formats journals should adopt when publishing article amendments — such as corrections or retractions. Although the group didn’t come to a unanimous consensus (what group does?), workshop leader Daniele Fanelli (now at the London School of Economics) and two co-authors (John Ioannidis and Steven Goodman at Stanford) published a new proposal for how to classify different types of retractions. We spoke to Fanelli about the new “taxonomy,” and why not everyone is on board.

Retraction Watch: What do you think are the biggest issues in how the publishing industry deals with article amendments?

Daniele Fanelli: The issues are fundamentally three, and they are closely interconnected. First, the formats of amendment issued by most journals are too few, often consisting of only two types: “corrections” and “retractions.” Second, the information conveyed by these amendments is very limited. Not only, as RW has highlighted many times in the past, editors are often reluctant to accurately portray the causes underlying an amendment, but more generally I think that the format of a short notice of correction or retraction often impedes effective communication of the nature of errors that can have important repercussions for a broader literature. Thirdly, scientists have little incentive to “do the right thing” and promptly amend any scientific or ethical flaws in their work. Without an active participation of authors, amendments are rarer and harder to produce than we would like. To be fair, much progress has been made on all these fronts, but more and more concerted innovation is needed.

Read the rest of this interview

A real-life Lord of the Flies: the troubling legacy of the Robbers Cave experiment – The Guardian (David Shariatmadari | April 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 17, 2018
 

In the early 1950s, the psychologist Muzafer Sherif brought together a group of boys at a US summer camp – and tried to make them fight each other. Does his work teach us anything about our age of resurgent tribalism?
……Read an extract from The Lost Boys

July 1953: late one evening in the woods outside Middle Grove, New York state, three men are having a furious argument. One of them, drunk, draws back his fist, ready to smash it into his opponent’s face. Seeing what is about to happen, the third grabs a block of wood from a nearby pile. “Dr Sherif! If you do it, I’m gonna hit you,” he shouts.

A useful example of the degree to which such work not only fails modern ethical standards, its results were cherry-picked and stage managed. We note again our caution about using such cases to justify current human research ethics/research integrity arrangements. Also see James Kehoe recent post.

The man with the raised fist isn’t just anybody. He is one of the world’s foremost social psychologists, Muzafer Sherif. The two others are his research assistants. Sherif is angry because the experiment he has spent months preparing for has just fallen apart.
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Born in the summer of 1905 and raised in İzmir province, Turkey, during the dying days of the Ottoman empire, Sherif won a place at Harvard to study psychology. But he found himself frustrated by the narrowness of the discipline, which mainly involved tedious observation of lab rats. He was drawn instead to the emerging field of social psychology, which looks at the way human behaviour is influenced by others. In particular, he became obsessed by group dynamics: how individuals band together to form cohesive units and how these units can find themselves at each other’s throats.
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‘Cult’ Universal medicine practices promoted by researchers, UQ launches investigation – ABC News (Josh Robertson | Apr 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 17, 2018
 

Researchers who promoted an alleged cult and showcased its bizarre healing claims in published studies have embroiled one of Australia’s top universities in an academic misconduct probe.

The University of Queensland (UQ) and two international medical journals are investigating alleged ethical violations in research around Universal Medicine (UM), an organisation based in Lismore in New South Wales, which touts the healing power of “esoteric breast massage” and other unproven treatments.

Founded by Serge Benhayon — a former bankrupt tennis coach with no medical qualifications who claims to be the reincarnation of Leonardo Da Vinci — UM is a multi-million-dollar enterprise with 700 mostly female followers in 15 countries.

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Australian agency to probe Facebook after shocking revelation – The New Daily (April 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 8, 2018
 

Australian’s privacy commissioner will conduct a formal investigation into Facebook after the US social media giant revealed up to one in 50 local users may have had their personal information accessed by Cambridge Analytica.

The 87 million Facebook users who had their information ‘scraped’ for Cambridge Analytica included over 310,000 Australians. This would appear to be shocking breach of the Commonwealth Privacy Act and both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have serious questions to answer. It is worth noting the app that made this possible was written by a university-based researcher and the information scraped without the knowledge (much less consent) of the users was then sold.

The probe will establish whether the Mark Zuckerberg-led multi-billion dollar behemoth breached the Australian privacy act.
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Facebook has admitted 311,127 Australian users are likely among the up to 87 million users worldwide whose data was unknowingly and “improperly” shared with the British political consultancy agency.
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“All organisations that are covered by the Privacy Act have obligations in relation to the personal information that they hold,” Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner privacy commissioner Angelene Falk said on Thursday.
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“This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that personal information is held securely, and ensuring that customers are adequately notified about the collection and handling of their personal information.”

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