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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(Australian case) Images used in biomedical articles suspected of manipulation – The Australian (John Ross | February 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on February 27, 2018

New claims of image manipulation have cast a cloud over the work of three Deakin Univer­sity biomedical researchers.

The Australian has obtained evidence suggesting that seven images published in three journal articles, all co-authored by the three researchers, may have come from an unrelated PhD thesis by the team’s junior member.

In some cases, the images ­appear identical. In others, they seem to have been reversed or cut and then reversed.

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Rebranding Retractions and the Honest Error Hypothesis – PLOS Blogs (Hilda Bastian | November 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on February 23, 2018

We have a serious problem with errors and irredeemably flawed studies: there’s a lot of them, and they keep leading people astray. Few errors get corrected. And it’s very rare for a paper to be retracted (less than half a percent).

A rose by any other name? This discussion piece reflects on the implications and viability of creating new labels for author-initiated retractions, honest/good faith errors and minor errors. Hilda Bastian suggests the practicalities might be harder than it might appear and the benefits more uncertain.

Fixing this isn’t going to be easy. It’s always possible to make things worse, too, in predictable and surprising ways. So we should stick to first principles when thinking about whether major interventions are desirable:

  • Is it feasible?
  • How sure are we that it will have the intended effect?
  • What could go wrong?

One of the ideas that’s been circulating quite a bit in the last year is to de-stigmatize retractions by rebranding. It came up again at a recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) colloquium, [PDF] reportedly advocated by the President of NAS and former editor-in-chief of the Science journals, Marcia McNutt:


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A Multi-dimensional Investigation of the Effects of Publication Retraction on Scholarly Impact (Papers: Xin Shuai, et al | January 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on February 20, 2018


The findings of this work provide an interesting insight into the impacts of forced retractions. It is somewhat at odds with findings of other research listed in this library (or perhaps incomplete) in terms of impacts on coauthors and subsequent collaborators.

Over the past few decades, the rate of publication retractions has increased dramatically in academia. In this study, we investigate retractions from a quantitative perspective, aiming to answer two fundamental questions. One, how do retractions influence the scholarly impact of retracted papers, authors, and institutions? Two, does this influence propagate to the wider academic community through scholarly associations? Specifically, we analyzed a set of retracted articles indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science (WoS), and ran multiple experiments to compare changes in scholarly impact against a control set of non-retracted articles, authors, and institutions. We further applied the Granger Causality test to investigate whether different scientific topics are dynamically affected by retracted papers occurring within those topics. Our results show two key findings: first, the scholarly impact of retracted papers and authors significantly decreases after retraction, and the most severe impact decrease correlates to retractions based on proven purposeful scientific misconduct; second, this retraction penalty does not seem to spread through the broader scholarly social graph, but instead has a limited and localized effect. Our findings may provide useful insights for scholars or science committees to evaluate the scholarly value of papers, authors, or institutions related to retractions.

Shuai, X., Rollins, J., Moulinier, I., Custis, T., Edmunds, M., & Schilder, F. (2017).  A Multidimensional Investigation of the Effects of Publication Retraction on Scholarly Impact. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 68(9), 2225-2236. doi: 10.1002/asi.23826.
Publisher (Open Access):

The ‘Father of Modern Gynecology’ Performed Shocking Experiments on Slaves – History (Brynn Holland | August 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on February 15, 2018

While such egregious abuses of ‘subjects’ (we intentionally use subjects rather than participants here) can seem a good inclusion in HRE professional development workshops for shock value, we’ve found the use of “why society cares about the governance of human research ethics” cases counterproductive. Even when the audience is all health science researchers, but especially when some of the audience contains social science, humanities and/or fine arts researchers. Such cases have the inherent flaw in that they refer to the <0.001% of researchers and perpetuate the adversarial climate between researchers and research ethics reviewers - see Colin, Mark and Gary's book chapter on the adversarial climate. For that reason, we suggest being judicious with the use of such cases.

James Marion Sims developed pioneering tools and surgical techniques related to women’s reproductive health, and is credited as the “father of modern gynecology.” The 19th-century physician has been lionized with statues in New York City, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
But because Sims’ research was conducted on enslaved black women without anesthesia, medical ethicists, historians and others have called for those monuments to be removed—or for them to be reconfigured as tributes to the enslaved women known to have endured his experiments.
Sims, who practiced medicine at a time when treating women was considered distasteful and rarely done, invented the vaginal speculum, a tool used for dilation and examination. He also pioneered a surgical technique to repair vesicovaginal fistula, a common 19th-century complication of childbirth in which a tear between the uterus and bladder caused constant pain and urine leakage.
Sims’s defenders say the Southern-born slaveholder was simply a man of his time for whom the end justified the means—and that enslaved women with fistulas were likely to have wanted the treatment badly enough that they would have agreed to take part in his experiments. But history hasn’t recorded their voices, and consent from their owners, who had a strong financial interest in their recovery, was the only legal requirement of the time.

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