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Gossip as Social Control: Informal Sanctions on Ethical Violations in Scientific Workplaces (Papers: Brandon Vaidyanathan September 2016)EH0

Posted by Admin in on October 22, 2016

The described phenomena might be a part of peer-based social control, but it also might be a recognition of the problems of whistleblowing.

Abstract: Research on misconduct in science has largely focused on egregious violations such as fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism. Recent scholarship, however, calls for greater attention to forms of everyday misconduct and how scientists navigate ethical ambiguity when they are unable or unwilling to make formal accusations. Drawing on interview data from 251 physicists and biologists from both elite and non-elite universities and research institutes in the United States, United Kingdom, and India, we find that scientists are often reticent or unable to take formal action against many behaviors they perceive as unethical and irresponsible. As a result, they resort to informal gossip to warn colleagues of transgressors. Many express confidence that such pro-social gossip can serve as a means of social control by tarnishing the reputations of transgressors. Yet its effectiveness as a form of social control is limited, particularly when transgressors enjoy higher status than gossipers. We identify two types and three consequences of such gossip and assess the effectiveness of gossip as a means of social control. Finally, we consider the implications of our study for understanding and decreasing misconduct in science.

Keywords: Gossip; Misconduct; Science; Scientists; Ethics

Vaidyanathan B, Khalsa S and Ecklund EH  (2016) Gossip as Social Control: Informal Sanctions on Ethical Violations in Scientific Workplaces
Social Problems DOI: 10.1093/socpro/spw022

Read Retraction Watch’s interview with Brandon Vaidyanathan about this work

(Australian QLD case) Parkinson’s researcher with three retractions heads to court on Monday – Retraction Watch (Dalmeet Singh Chawla October 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on October 15, 2016

On Monday, Parkinson’s researcher Caroline Barwood will head to court in Brisbane, Australia, following a probe at her former institution, the University of Queensland (UQ).

Barwood was granted bail in November, 2014 — charges included that she “dishonestly applied for grant funds,” and fabricated research that claimed a breakthrough in treating Parkinson’s disease, according to The Guardian. In March, Bruce Murdoch, a former colleague of Barwood’s at UQ, pleaded guilty to 17 fraud-related charges, and received a two-year suspended sentence after an institutional investigation into 92 academic papers.

We contacted Barwood about the upcoming trial, but she told us she is unable to comment on proceedings at this time, and didn’t provide the contact details for her attorney despite multiple requests.

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Macchiarini scandal: overstepping the research ethics mark – Euroscientist (Sabine Louët Sepember)0

Posted by Admin in on October 1, 2016

Lessons from the story of a superstar scientists overstating his progress at a complacent research institute

It has taken several deaths for Paolo Macchiarini to be found guilty of scientific fraud and medical misconduct. He was the ultimate star surgeon, delivering the promises of regenerative medicine. He focused on building artificial trachea seeded with the stem cells of his patients.

However, his work, experts have since revealed, was closer to fiction than life-saving clinical treatment. In reality, his experimental research on what turned out to be human guinea pigs had no sound preclinical research foundation. Indeed, one of the issues, was that the vascularisation of such artificial graph has not been proven to work in the lab–let alone in patients.

To save or prolong life in the absence of any alternative treatment could have made such transplants medically acceptable. The trouble is that the life of the three patients transplanted in 2011 and 2012 at the Karolinska Institute Hospital was under no immediate threat. Two of the three have since died. And there were five other additional transplant of this kind, among others, at the Kuban State Medical University in Krasnodar, Russia.

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Research work could be criminalised under George Brandis data changes – The Guardian (Paul Farrell September 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on September 29, 2016

Attorney general says he will amend the Privacy Act to ensure data published in anonymised formats cannot be reidentified

George Brandis will move to make it a criminal offence to publish or disseminate “reidentified” government datasets, in a move that digital rights groups say could criminalise important research and security work.

The attorney general announced on Thursday that he would amend the Privacy Act to make it an offence to reidentify government data that had been published in anonymised formats.

“With advances of technology, methods that were sufficient to de-identify data in the past may become susceptible to reidentification in the future,” he said.

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