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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

China’s ‘Long Arm’ – Inside Higher ED (Elizabeth Redden | January 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on January 7, 2018

Scholars and political leaders describe increasing concerns about Chinese government influence over teaching and research in the U.S. and Australia.

Two times in Kevin Carrico’s six years of teaching he’s been approached by students from China who told him that things they said in his classroom about sensitive subjects somehow made their way to their parents back home.

Like the 2017 reports about Cambridge initially bowing to pressure from Chinese officials and temporarily removing access to some academic papers, this discussion piece relates to institutional conflicts of interest and economic+political pressure taking precedence over academic freedom

The first time it happened, when Carrico was teaching at a university in the United States, a student informed him that a presentation he’d given about the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 had been reported to his father in China, where the father held a position in government. “This was a situation where the father’s superiors — I wasn’t given a lot of specifics — but his superiors mentioned this to him and raised this as something that [the father] should know about, supposedly,” said Carrico, who’s now a lecturer in Chinese studies at Australia’s Macquarie University.
The second time, which happened after Carrico moved to Australia, a student told him that a class presentation she’d given on self-immolation in Tibet had been reported to her parents in China.

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Why a Lot of Important Research Is Not Being Done – The New York Times (Aaron E. Carroll | December 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on January 4, 2018

Lawsuits have an intimidating effect on an already difficult enterprise.

We have a dispiriting shortage of high-quality health research for many reasons, including the fact that it’s expensive, difficult and time-intensive. But one reason is more insidious: Sometimes groups seek to intimidate and threaten scientists, scaring them off promising work.

We struggled for a while to categorise this one, not least because it’s about research that’s stopped before it is started so a research ethics committee won’t see it. But it’s about a societal issue and about commonsense ethics. Big issues that effect real people that vested interests use the courts to keep from coming to light.

By the time I wrote about the health effects of lead almost two years ago, few were questioning the science on this issue. But that has not always been the case. In the 1980s, various interests tried to suppress the work of Dr. Herbert Needleman and his colleagues on the effects of lead exposure. Not happy with Dr. Needleman’s findings, the lead industry got both the federal Office for Scientific Integrity and the University of Pittsburgh to conduct intrusive investigations into his work and character. He was eventually vindicated — and his discoveries would go on to improve the lives of children all over the country — but it was a terrible experience for him.

I often complain about a lack of solid evidence on guns’ relationship to public health. There’s a reason for that deficiency. In the 1990s, when health services researchers produced work on the dangers posed by firearms, those who disagreed with the results tried to have the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control shut down. They failed, but getting such work funded became nearly impossible after that…

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The Nuremberg Code 70 Years Later – The JAMA Network (Jonathan D. Moreno, et al | September 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on December 31, 2017


Seventy years ago, on August 20, 1947, the International Medical Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, delivered its verdict in the trial of 23 doctors and bureaucrats accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their roles in cruel and often lethal concentration camp medical experiments. As part of its judgment, the court articulated a 10-point set of rules for the conduct of human experiments that has come to be known as the Nuremberg Code. Among other requirements, the code called for the “voluntary consent” of the human research subject, an assessment of risks and benefits, and assurances of competent investigators. These concepts have become an important reference point for the ethical conduct of medical research. Yet, there has in the past been considerable debate among scholars about the code’s authorship, scope, and legal standing in both civilian and military science. Nonetheless, the Nuremberg Code has undoubtedly been a milestone in the history of biomedical research ethics.1- 3

Many of us point to the Nuremberg Code as the first formal codification of precepts for the ethical conduct of human biomedical research. And while some pretty awful cases of misconduct and mistreatment of participants still occurred after its release, and documents like the Declaration of Helsinki and the Belmont Report gave us research ethics review as we know it, seventy or so years on the Nuremberg Code is still a worthy progenitor of some of the ethical principles we hold dear today.

Writings on medical ethics, laws, and regulations in a number of jurisdictions and countries, including a detailed and sophisticated set of guidelines from the Reich Ministry of the Interior in 1931, set the stage for the code. The same focus on voluntariness and risk that characterizes the code also suffuses these guidelines. What distinguishes the code is its context. As lead prosecutor Telford Taylor emphasized, although the Doctors’ Trial was at its heart a murder trial, it clearly implicated the ethical practices of medical experimenters and, by extension, the medical profession’s relationship to the state understood as an organized community living under a particular political structure. The embrace of Nazi ideology by German physicians, and the subsequent participation of some of their most distinguished leaders in the camp experiments, demonstrates the importance of professional independence from and resistance to the ideological and geopolitical ambitions of the authoritarian state.

The circumstances in which the code was promulgated thus signified a tension between professional standards and duties to the state. There had long been an intense debate within the medical profession about its ethical obligations in the course of human experiments, dating back to 18th- and 19th-century objections against objectifying human beings for scientific purposes. The increased demands placed on modern states to promote the health and welfare of citizens in the 20th century required state agencies to respond to public pressure to protect participants in clinical trials. These debates were often stimulated by medical ethics transgressions or medical errors that attracted the wider attention of state agencies and the public at large, or by concerned physicians who regarded themselves as reformers and wished to improve their colleagues’ practices. At the center of that debate is the question of how to balance participants’ rights and welfare with the progress of medical science, for example, through professional guidelines and ethics codes or through greater state intervention, laws, and regulations. That the Nazi doctors’ crimes occurred despite the vigorous and sophisticated ethical debates of the time and place should serve as a cautionary tale for physicians today.

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When Authors Get Caught in the Predatory (Illegitimate Publishing) Net – Scholarly Kitchen (December 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on December 27, 2017

Editor’s Note: Today’s Guest Post comes from Phaedra Cress, Executive Editor, Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

Are we losing good articles to predatory journals, with little recourse for unsuspecting authors? Or are authors becoming increasingly complicit and symbiotic in their relationships with illegitimate publishing entities with disregard for the greater good? Maybe it’s both.

This is an excellent piece on the issue, and includes some great links. It also uses the phrase ‘a fly in the chardonnay of scholars’ which we thought sums up the situation perfectly.

Predatory publishing can no longer be called an aberration or a fly in the chardonnay of scholars. In less than ten years, it has wreaked havoc on unsuspecting researchers and academics (more about how they might not be as naïve as you think, later in this article). Rick Anderson recently discussed the issues around so-called predatory publishing (here and here).

But what happens when — and what are the ethics surrounding — an author accidentally submitting to a predatory journal, realizing the error, then trying to submit to a legitimate academic journal? The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) posted advice in 2016 based on the following case:

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