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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

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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“Do we have the will to do anything about it?” James Heathers reflects on the Eysenck case – Retraction Watch (James Heathers | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 12, 2019
 

We have a tension about resolving inaccuracies in scientific documents when they’re past a certain age.

The Hans Eysenck’s case is a useful and fruitful case for talking about the societal impacts of research misconduct, and to talk about fabrication and conflicts of interest, but it should also be used as a prompt for a proportional response to breaches and our shared responsibilities with regard to research integrity.

Specifically, what should we do with old papers that are shown to be not just wrong, which is a fate that will befall most of them, but seriously misleading, fatally flawed, or overwhelmingly likely to be fabricated, i.e. when they reach the (very high) threshold we set for retraction?
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To my way of thinking, there are three components of this:
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(1) the continuing use of the documents themselves as citable objects in contemporary research – some research stays current and relevant, other research is consigned to obscurity, or is so completely superseded that it has no bearing on contemporary research whatsoever.
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(2) the profile of the authors – some authors of such documents are alive, famous, and have theories with contemporary relevance. Others are dead, obscure, and have theories which have no continuation in any other papers. Like it or not, these authors are treated differently.
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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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Scientists ‘may have crossed ethical line’ in growing human brains – The Guardian (Ian Sample | )0

Posted by Admin in on October 22, 2019
 

Debate needed over research with ‘potential for something to suffer’, neuroscientists say

Neuroscientists may have crossed an “ethical rubicon” by growing lumps of human brain in the lab, and in some cases transplanting the tissue into animals, researchers warn.

The creation of mini-brains or brain “organoids” has become one of the hottest fields in modern neuroscience. The blobs of tissue are made from stem cells and, while they are only the size of a pea, some have developed spontaneous brain waves, similar to those seen in premature babies.

Many scientists believe that organoids have the potential to transform medicine by allowing them to probe the living brain like never before. But the work is controversial because it is unclear where it may cross the line into human experimentation.

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