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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Eleven tips for working with large data sets – Nature (Anna Nowogrodzki | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on January 22, 2020
 

Big data are difficult to handle. These tips and tricks can smooth the way.

Big data are everywhere in research, and the data sets are only getting bigger — and more challenging to work with. Unfortunately, says Tracy Teal, it’s a kind of labour that’s too often left out of scientific training.

“It’s a mindset,” says Teal, “treating data as a first-class citizen.” She should know: Teal was until last month the executive director of The Carpentries, an organization in Oakland, California, that teaches coding and data skills to researchers globally. She says there’s a tendency in the research community to dismiss the time and effort needed to manage and share data, and not to regard it as a real part of science. But, she suggests, “we can shift our mindset to valuing that work as a part of the research process”, rather than treating it as an afterthought.

Here are 11 tips for making the most of your large data sets.

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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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How about personally optimized treatment? – The Ethics Blog (Pär Segerdahl | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 31, 2019
 

It is well known that patients who are asked to participate in cancer trials are tempted by the therapeutic misconception. They believe they are offered a newer and better treatment, when in fact it is about research into an untested treatment. When researchers use genetic tests to develop personalized oncology, even more misconceptions can arise. I will soon explain. But first, what is personalized cancer treatment? Here is an example.

Patients whose tumor is to be operated may undergo preparatory radiation or chemotherapy. Since the preparatory therapy has severe side effects, one wants to avoid giving it to patients whose tumors do not respond to it. The challenge is to distinguish patients who respond to treatment from patients who do not. This is to be accomplished through, among other things, genetic tests on the tumor cells. If this works, you can develop personalized cancer treatment. Patients with the “right” tumor cell genetics receive the preparatory therapy, while patients who, according to the genetic tests, only get the side effects, with no effect on tumor growth, do not receive the therapy.

What are the misconceptions that can arise in patients who are asked to participate in research on personalized cancer treatment? Here are some examples.

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Holiday funny – New Years resolutions for your research ethics committee0

Posted by Admin in on December 31, 2019
 

Cartoon by Don Mayne www.researchcartoons.com
Full-size image for printing (right mouse click and save file)

Anyone who has served on, supported or observed meetings of research ethics committees will recognise these unhelpful behaviours.  The full-sized version might be a fun and cheeky cover page for your first meeting in the New Year.  Send an email to enquiry@ahrecs.com if you would like to discuss coaching or professional development for your research ethics committee.  This can be done remotely via video link.

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