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Australia ‘There is a problem’: Australia’s top scientist Alan Finkel pushes to eradicate bad science – The Conversation (Alan Finkel | September 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on September 22, 2019
 

Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel outlines some excellent ideas to replace some of the perverse incentives that undermine academic research, with strategies that will promote within an institution a successful research culture.  AHRECS would be delighted to assist your institution with the design and delivery of responsible research professional development activities for your research staff. Send an email to enquiry@ahrecs.com to discuss.

In the main, Australia produces high-quality research that is rigorous and reproducible, and makes a significant contribution towards scientific progress. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it better.
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In the case of the research sector here and abroad, we need to acknowledge that as good as the research system is, there is a problem.
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There are a significant number of papers that are of poor quality, and should never have made it through to publication. In considering why this might be the case, I have found myself reflecting on the role of incentives in the research system.
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Because incentives matter, as we have seen through the findings of the Royal Commission into the banking sector led by Kenneth Hayne.
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The commission shone a light on how the sector incentivises its employees. And there are some incentives in the research community that, in my view, need to be looked at.
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We may be inadvertently encouraging poor behaviour. And to ensure research remains high-quality and trustworthy, we need to get the incentives right.
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China strengthens its campaign against scientific misconduct – CE&EN (Hepeng Jia | September 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on September 21, 2019
 

New publishing standards aim for clarity on plagiarism, fabrication, and authorship

Amid increasing attention to scientific research integrity in China, the country has adopted a new set of standards to more clearly define misconduct in publishing journal articles. Experts hope the new clarity will make it easier to discipline researchers who violate the standards.

The State Administration of Press and Publication, the agency in charge of China’s publishing sector, released and adopted in July the Academic Publishing Specification—Definition of Academic Misconduct for Journals. Other standards developed by the agency cover citation and translation practices and the use of ancient Chinese.

The publishing specification defines and distinguishes plagiarism, fabrication, and falsification. It also addresses inappropriate authorship, duplicate or multiple submissions, and overlapping publications.

What’s next for Registered Reports? – Nature (Chris Chambers | September 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on September 19, 2019
 

Reviewing and accepting study plans before results are known can counter perverse incentives. Chris Chambers sets out three ways to improve the approach.

What part of a research study — hypotheses, methods, results, or discussion — should remain beyond a scientist’s control? The answer, of course, is the results: the part that matters most for publishing in prestigious journals and advancing careers. This paradox means that the careful scepticism required to avoid massaging data or skewing analysis is pitted against the drive to identify eye-catching outcomes. Unbiased, negative and complicated findings lose out to cherry-picked highlights that can bring prominent articles, grant funding, promotion and esteem.

The ‘results paradox’ is a chief cause of unreliable science. Negative, or null, results go unpublished, leading other researchers into unwittingly redundant studies. Ambiguous or otherwise ‘unattractive’ results are airbrushed (consciously or not) into publishable false positives, spurring follow-up research and theories that are bound to collapse.

Clearly, we need to change how we evaluate and publish research. For the past six years, I have championed Registered Reports (RRs), a type of research article that is radically different from conventional papers. The 30 or so journals that were early adopters have together published some 200 RRs, and more than 200 journals are now accepting submissions in this format (see ‘Rapid rise’). When it launched in 2017, Nature Human Behaviour became the first of the Nature journals to join this group. In July, it published its first two such reports1. With RRs on the rise, now is a good time to take stock of their potential and limitations

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Q&A Linda Beaumont: Journals should take action against toxic peer reviews – Nature Index (Gemma Conroy | August 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on September 8, 2019
 

Keep it constructive.

Learning to accept criticism is an important skill for researchers navigating the peer-review process. But what happens when the feedback is unhelpful, rude or downright toxic?

Linda Beaumont, an ecologist at Macquarie University in Australia, is no stranger to a harsh review.

“One reviewer of a submission bluntly wrote, ‘I can’t believe the authors used this approach. This paper shouldn’t be published,’” says Beaumont. “Two sentences. I was gobsmacked.”

But when one of her PhD students received a similarly cutting review, Beaumont knew it was time to speak out.

In August 2019, she published a comment in Nature calling for clear ethical guidelines for peer-reviewers. She adds that editors have a role to play in addressing damaging feedback before it reaches the authors.

Nature Index spoke to Beaumont about how peer reviewers can keep their feedback constructive, and how authors should respond when they don’t.

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