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Russian journals retract more than 800 papers after ‘bombshell’ investigation – Science (Dalmeet Singh Chawla | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on January 11, 2020

Academic journals in Russia are retracting more than 800 papers following a probe into unethical publication practices by a commission appointed by the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). The moves come in the wake of several other queries suggesting the vast Russian scientific literature is riddled with plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and so-called gift authorship, in which academics become a co-author without having contributed any work.

The RAS commission’s preliminary report documenting the problems and journals’ responses to them is “a bombshell,” says Gerson Sher, a former staffer at the U.S. National Science Foundation and the author of a recent book on U.S.-Russia science cooperation. The report, released yesterday, “will reinforce the suspicions and fears of many—that their country is not going down the right path in science and that it’s damaging its own reputation,” says Sher, who applauds RAS for commissioning the investigation.
Russia’s roughly 6000 academic journals, the vast majority published in Russian, are popular among the country’s academics. A 2019 study found that Russian authors publish far more in domestic journals than, for instance, their counterparts in Poland, Germany, or Indonesia. But standards are often low. In March 2018, for instance, Dissernet, a network aimed at cleaning up the Russian literature, identified more than 4000 cases of plagiarism and questionable authorship among 150,000 papers in about 1500 journals.
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(Queensland, Australia) Analysis challenges slew of studies claiming ocean acidification alters fish behavior – Scienced0

Posted by Admin in on January 11, 2020

Over the past decade, marine scientists published a series of studies warning that humanity’s burgeoning carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could cause yet another devastating problem. They reported that seawater acidified by rising CO2—already known to threaten organisms with carbonate shells and skeletons, such as corals—could also cause profound, alarming changes in the behavior of fish on tropical reefs. The studies, some of which made headlines, found that acidification can disorient fish, make them hyperactive or bolder, alter their vision, and lead them to become attracted to, rather than repelled by, the smell of predators. Such changes, researchers noted, could cause populations to plummet.

But in a Nature paper published today, researchers from Australia, Canada, Norway, and Sweden challenge a number of those findings. In a major, 3-year effort that studied six fish species, they could not replicate three widely reported behavioral effects of ocean acidification. The replication team notes that many of the original studies came from the same relatively small group of researchers and involved small sample sizes. That and other “methodological or analytical weaknesses” may have led the original studies astray, they argue.

“It’s an exceptionally thorough replication effort,” says Tim Parker, a biologist and an advocate for replication studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. Marine scientist Andrew Esbaugh of the University of Texas, Austin, agrees that it’s “excellent, excellent work.”

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(China/Gene) Chinese scientist who produced genetically altered babies sentenced to 3 years in jail – Science (Dennis Normile | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 5, 2020

He Jiankui, the Chinese researcher who stunned the world last year by announcing he had helped produce genetically edited babies, has been found guilty of conducting “illegal medical practices” and sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Given the degree of recklessness and premeditation, the lifetime health effects and that the genetic modifications are inheritable, some may feel an even harsher sentence would have been warranted.  Nevertheless, it is welcome to see the Chinese court impose large fines and prison sentences.

A court in Shenzhen found that He and two collaborators forged ethical review documents and misled doctors into unknowingly implanting gene-edited embryos into two women, according to Xinhua, China’s state-run press agency. One mother gave birth to twin girls in November 2018; it has not been made clear when the third baby was born. The court ruled that the three defendants had deliberately violated national regulations on biomedical research and medical ethics, and rashly applied gene-editing technology to human reproductive medicine.

All three pleaded guilty, according to Xinhua. The court also fined He, formerly of the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) and known as JK to friends and colleagues, 3 million Chinese yuan ($429,000). His collaborators were identified as Zhang Renli, of a medical institution in Guangdong province, and Qin Jinzhou, from a Shenzhen medical institution; Zhang received a 2-year prison sentence and was fined 1 million yuan, according to Xinhua, whereas Qin was given 18 months in prison with a 2-year reprieve, and a 500,000 yuan fine.

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(Europe) Psychology researcher committed misconduct, says university – Retraction Watch (Adam Marcus | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 24, 2019

A Dutch university has found a former psychology researcher at the institution guilty of misconduct for several offenses, including lack of ethics approval for some of her studies and fabricating results in grant applications.

In a Nov. 11, 2019, report, officials at the University of Leiden stated that the researcher, whom it does not identify, violated academic integrity in the following ways:

(1) research with blood samples taken from test subjects without the approval of the Medical Ethical Committee (METC), (2) negligence in listing co-authors, (3) data manipulation, and (4) submitting grant applications with incorrect (incomplete and manipulated) research data. 

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