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Meta-analysis study indicates we publish more positive results – ARS Technica (John Timmer | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 13, 2020
 

Meta-analyses will only produce more reliable results if the studies are good.

While science as a whole has produced remarkably reliable answers to a lot of questions, it does so despite the fact that any individual study may not be reliable. Issues like small errors on the part of researchers, unidentified problems with materials or equipment, or the tendency to publish positive answers can alter the results of a single paper. But collectively, through multiple studies, science as a whole inches towards an understanding of the underlying reality.

Similar findings have been found before, but it’s important to rearticulate the value of negative results to science and practice.  This speaks to poor research culture and training. University education, and even high and primary school, do not acknowledge that failure is part of discovery. The rewards for ‘success’ are high and it is very tempting for students that can lead to research misconduct.

A meta-analysis is a way to formalize that process. It takes the results of multiple studies and combines them, increasing the statistical power of the analysis. This may cause exciting results seen in a few small studies to vanish into statistical noise, or it can tease out a weak effect that’s completely lost in more limited studies.
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But a meta-analysis only works its magic if the underlying data is solid. And a new study that looks at multiple meta-analyses (a meta-meta-analysis?) suggests that one of those factors—our tendency to publish results that support hypotheses—is making the underlying data less solid than we like.

Publication bias

It’s possible for publication bias to be a form of research misconduct. If a researcher is convinced of their hypothesis, they might actively avoid publishing any results that would undercut their own ideas. But there’s plenty of other ways for publication bias to set in. Researchers who find a weak effect might hold off on publishing in the hope that further research would be more convincing. Journals also have a tendency to favor publishing positive results—one where a hypothesis is confirmed—and avoid publishing studies that don’t see any effect at all. Researchers, being aware of this, might adjust the publications they submit accordingly.

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(China) Science publishers review ethics of research on Chinese minority groups – Nature (Richard Van Noorden & Davide Castelvecchi | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 27, 2019
 

Springer Nature and Wiley have concerns about lack of consent in genetics and facial-recognition papers.

Two science publishers are reviewing the ethics of research papers in which scientists backed by China’s government used DNA or facial-recognition technology to study minority groups in the country, such as the predominantly Muslim Uyghur population.

Springer Nature (which publishes Nature) and Wiley want to check that the study participants gave informed consent, after researchers and journalists raised concerns that the papers were connected to China’s heavy surveillance operations in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. China has attracted widespread international condemnation — and US sanctions — for mass detentions and other human-rights violations in the province. The Chinese government says that it is conducting a re-education campaign in the region to quell what it calls a terrorist movement.

“We are very concerned about research which involves consent from vulnerable populations,” says a spokesperson from Springer Nature (Nature’s news team is editorially independent of its publisher).

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(China) China’s Genetic Research on Ethnic Minorities Sets Off Science Backlash – New York Times (By Sui-Lee Wee and Paul Mozur | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 12, 2019
 

Scientists are raising questions about the ethics of studies backed by Chinese surveillance agencies. Prestigious journals are taking action.

BEIJING — China’s efforts to study the DNA of the country’s ethnic minorities have incited a growing backlash from the global scientific community, as a number of scientists warn that Beijing could use its growing knowledge to spy on and oppress its people.

Two publishers of prestigious scientific journals, Springer Nature and Wiley, said this week that they would re-evaluate papers they previously published on Tibetans, Uighurs and other minority groups. The papers were written or co-written by scientists backed by the Chinese government, and the two publishers want to make sure the authors got consent from the people they studied.

Springer Nature, which publishes the influential journal Nature, also said that it was toughening its guidelines to make sure scientists get consent, particularly if those people are members of a vulnerable group.

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Citizen scientists ‘deserve more credit’ – Cosmos (Nick Carne | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 9, 2019
 

Researchers say academic journals should recognise non-professional input and indigenous knowledge.

Academic journals should allow citizen scientists and indigenous knowledge to be formally recognised on papers, researchers have suggested.

Writing in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, a team led by Georgia Ward-Fear from Australia’s Macquarie University and Greg Pauly from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, US, argues that changes in technology mean non-professionals are taking greater roles in science work.

“Members of the general public have become pivotal contributors to research, resulting in thousands of scientific publications and measurable conservation impacts,” says Ward-Fear. “The question is: how should we credit that input?”

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