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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Rock samples aren’t archived or shared. They need to be, geologists warn, pointing to a ‘reproducibility crisis.’ – The Washington Post (Erin Blakemore | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 3, 2020

Why did everything in the teeming oceans of the Late Devonian period (which ended about 358 million years ago) go extinct? Did Earth’s entire surface cool into a “snowball” at some point in prehistory?

Decisions about the retention of physical samples for research in fields such as geology, civil construction and materials can often feel as though it is a function of available space, rather than need.  In this piece, it is argued this approach needs to change.

Geologists could one day lay to rest these contentious debates about Earth’s environmental history, and others like them. But if they don’t have access to one another’s rock samples, argue an international group of geology researchers, they may never solve those riddles.

In an editorial in the journal Nature, a group of geologists from the United States, China and Australia make the case for storing and sharing ancient rocks.

“Too often,” they write, “rock samples are not archived or shared. It is common for samples to be held by researchers in private collections instead of in accessible, curated institutional archives or museums. That’s a problem, because different geoscience teams cannot check each other’s work to test whether published results are robust and can be replicated.”

Nature will publish peer review reports as a trial – Nature (Editorial | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 1, 2020

Research involves deep discussions between authors and reviewers. Starting this week, readers of some Nature Research journals will be able to see this up close.

Research communities are unanimous in acknowledging the value of peer review, but there’s a growing desire for more transparency in the process. As part of that, researchers want to see how publishing decisions are made, and they want greater assurance that referees and editors act with integrity and without bias.

As well as being great for open science – which we love – this may be an incredibly positive way to expose questionable publishers and junk science for what they are – trash.

For many journals, including Nature, peer review has typically been single-blind — that is, authors do not know who is reviewing their paper. At the same time, the contents of peer-review reports, and correspondence between authors, reviewers and editors, are kept confidential.

This prevents readers from seeing the often fascinating and important discussions between authors and reviewers, which are crucial in shaping and improving research and checking its integrity. Keeping these debates confidential also helps to reinforce perceptions that the research paper is the last word on a subject — when the latest finding is often simply a milestone along the scholarly journey.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

A Disclosure Form for Work Submitted to Medical Journals (Papers Editorial: Darren B. Taichman, et al | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 31, 2020

A Proposal From the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors

Many factors, including professional and personal relationships and activities, can influence the design, conduct, and reporting of the clinical science that informs health care decisions. The potential for conflict of interest exists when these relationships and activities may bias judgment.1 Many stakeholders—editors, peer reviewers, clinicians, educators, policy makers, patients, and the public—rely on the disclosure of authors’ relationships and activities to inform their assessments. Trust in the transparency, consistency, and completeness of these disclosures is essential.

Ten years ago, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) adopted the “ICMJE Form for the Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest” as a uniform mechanism for collecting and reporting authors’ relationships and activities that readers might consider relevant to a published work.2 The goal was to avoid the confusion (and often ensuing controversy) created when journals vary in how they collect and report this information. We believe a uniform disclosure form has been helpful, but problems remain. First, the software supporting the current form is increasingly problematic, making its use difficult or impossible for an increasing number of authors. More important, however, is that many authors and readers misunderstand, misapply, or misinterpret the disclosures.

Although some individuals violate the public trust by purposefully hiding relevant relationships and activities, we believe most authors are committed to transparent reporting and consider it as vital to the advancement of clinical science. Nonetheless, disagreement, confusion, and controversy regarding authors’ disclosures arise when opinions differ over which relationships and activities to report. An author might not report an item that others deem important because of a difference in opinion regarding what is “relevant,” confusion over definitions, or a simple oversight. Some authors may be concerned that readers will interpret the listing of any item as a “potential conflict of interest” as indicative of problematic influence and wrongdoing, a concern often raised regarding the requirement to report publicly funded grants. For their part, some readers fail to recognize that their own relationships and activities influence how they assess the work of others and what they deem to be a “conflict” for others or themselves.

Taichman, D.B., Backus, J., Baethge, C., Bauchner, H., Flanagin, A., Florenzano, F., Frizelle,  F. A., Godlee, F., Gollogly, L., Haileamlak, A., Hong, S., Horton, R., James, A., Laine, C., Miller, P. W., Pinborg, A., Rubin, E. J., Sahni, P.,(2020) A Disclosure Form for Work Submitted to Medical JournalsA Proposal From the International Committee of Medical Journal EditorsJAMA. 2020;323(11):1050–1051. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.22274

(US) Ethics questions swirl around historic Parkinson’s experiment – STAT (Sharon Begley | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 30, 2020

A secretive experiment revealed this week, in which neurosurgeons transplanted brain cells into a patient with Parkinson’s disease, made medical history. It was the first time such “reprogrammed” cells, produced from stem cells that had been created in the lab from the man’s own skin cells, had been used to try to treat the degenerative brain disease. But it was also a bioethics iceberg, with some issues in plain sight and many more lurking.

This story raises an interesting bioethics question.  Should the wealthy be able to fund research, with a  view to receiving the treatment it develops?

In 2013, the soon-to-be patient, George Lopez, gave $2 million to underwrite research on cells in lab dishes and rats that was required to show that the surgery might be safe and possibly even effective. Lopez, a former physician and the wealthy founder of a medical equipment company, also paid for the legal work required to get Food and Drug Administration approval for the two surgeries. Cells were implanted on the left side of Lopez’s brain in September 2017 and the right side in March 2018.

“When individuals paying to fund research leading to a therapy are also the first to receive it, there are concerns,” said Brian Fiske, vice president for research at the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which funds research on Parkinson’s.

Read the rest of this discussion piece