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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

What should journals do when peer reviewers do not disclose potential conflicts? – Retraction Watch (Victoria Stern | August 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on October 18, 2017

Peer reviewers, like authors, are supposed to declare any potential conflicts of interest. But what happens when they don’t?

While principally speaking to journal editors the points could be seen as essential prompts for would-be peer reviewers to consider.

Take this case: In a court transcript from Feb. 23, 2017, Bryan Hardin testified that he was a peer reviewer on a 2016 paper in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, which found that asbestos does not increase the risk of cancer. In the deposition, Hardin—who works at the consulting firm Veritox—also said that he has testified in asbestos litigation on behalf of automakers, such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, but said he had not disclosed these relationships to the journal.

Last year, the first author of the 2016 review withdrew a paper from another journal (by the same publisher) which concluded asbestos roofing products are safe, following several criticisms — including not disclosing the approving editor’s ties to the asbestos industry. In this latest case, the journal told us it believes the review process for the paper was up to snuff, but two outside experts we consulted said they believed Hardin’s relationships — and failure to disclose them — should give the journal pause.

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Harassment in the Field – Inside Higher Ed (Colleen Flaherty | October 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on October 17, 2017

Study finds patterns of harassment and sexist treatment of scholars in far-flung locations that offer few of the protections of campuses.

Many institutional (and national) human research ethics/research ethics arrangements don’t give much attention (if any) to risks to researchers. Consequently strategies to mitigate those risks (such as the sickening ones discussed in this piece) are rarely within the remit of research ethics committees. But these matters are risks that demand discussion and need to be addressed.

Many academics regard fieldwork — the chance to make discoveries and come face-to-face with what they’ve spent years studying — as a career highlight. Beyond that, it’s a crucial to career development. So a 2014 study highlighting widespread sexual harassment at academic field sites struck a chord — or rather, was so discordant with many scientists’ perceptions of what fieldwork should be that it’s still frequently cited.

Last week, for example, Science offered the grim finding of that 2014 study as background in a major story on Boston University investigating its chair of Earth and environment for alleged sexual harassment of trainees in Antarctica. Some 71 percent of 512 self-selecting female respondents reported being sexually harassed during fieldwork, the overwhelmingly majority of them trainees at the time, according to the study.

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Also see this academic paper about this study

Ethics: More research won’t crack misconduct – Nature (Donald S. Kornfeld & Sandra L. Titus | August 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on October 16, 2017

The US National Academy of Sciences has issued 5 reports in the past 28 years on research misconduct and detrimental research practices. Each concluded with a strikingly similar set of recommendations.

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Over the years there has been much research about the extent of research misconduct, the reasons for it, and useful responses to the problem – some of which we have reported in the Resource Library. We enjoyed this pithy reflection on the topic.

20 years of retractions in China: More of them, and more misconduct – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | September 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on October 14, 2017

After reviewing nearly 20 years of retractions from researchers based in China, researchers came up with some somewhat unsurprising (yet still disheartening) findings: The number of retractions has increased (from zero in 1997 to more than 150 in 2016), and approximately 75% were due to some kind of misconduct. (You can read more details in the paper, published this month in Science and Engineering Ethics.) We spoke with first author Lei Lei, based in the School of Foreign Languages at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, about what he thinks can be done to improve research integrity in his country.

Retraction Watch: With “Lack of Improvement” right in the title (“Lack of Improvement in Scientific Integrity: An Analysis of WoS Retractions by Chinese Researchers (1997-2016)”), you sound disappointed with your findings.  What findings did you expect — or at least hope — to find, and what are your reactions to the results you did uncover?

Lei Lei: Before we began to work on the project, we had occasionally heard of news reports on the retraction of articles by Chinese researchers. It seemed that the issue occurred more often than before.  Since my team has been working on several projects with bibliometric methods, I thought we could investigate this issue with the methods. Thus, the results we found from the study provided scientific evidence to our hypothesis, though I was disappointed, as you mentioned, with the findings.

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