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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Transatlantic editorial: Institutional investigations of ethically flawed reports in cardiothoracic surgery journals (Papers: Robert M Sade, et al | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 21, 2020

A growing body of evidence suggests that research misconduct has been rising steadily over the last few decades. The mass media have sensationalized high profile cases of scientific fraud. Several surveys have attempted to define the incidence of scientific misconduct, but the available evidence is unreliable owing mostly to underreporting of misconduct [1]. An indirect indication of the extent of research misconduct is the incidence of article retractions from the scientific literature, which is tracked by the Retraction Watch database. Among science journals the number of retractions rose from 114 in the 5-year period 1990–1994 to 10 738 in the corresponding period 2010–2014, a 94-fold increase [2]. A well-known survey of early- and mid-career scientists found that 33% said they had engaged in serious misconduct in the previous 3 years [3]. The apparent growth in misconduct may be merely an artefact of increased focus on the issue or it may be real, but the question of a recent surge is not as important as the fact that misconduct is widespread and undermines the foundation of science, which is built on honest and transparent investigation.

Ethics, Health policy, Professional affairs

Sade, R. M., Rylski, B., Swain, J. A., Entwistle, J. W. C., Ceppa, D. P. & Members of the Cardiothoracic Ethics Forum who contributed to this work, for the Cardiothoracic Ethics Forum, Transatlantic editorial (2020) Institutional investigations of ethically flawed reports in cardiothoracic surgery journals, European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, Volume 57, Issue 4, April 2020, Pages 617–619,
Publisher (Open Access):

There is no black and white definition of predatory publishing – London School of Economics (Kyle Siler | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 20, 2020

The nature and extent of predatory publishing is highly contested. Whilst debates have often focused defining journals and publishers as either predatory or not predatory. Kyle Siler argues that predatory publishing encompasses a spectrum of activities and that by understanding this ambiguity, we can better understand and make value judgements over where legitimacy lies in scholarly communication.

We have become accustomed to approaching the problem of questionable publishers as a binary situation.  A publisher is either questionable, or it isn’t.  This London School of Economics blog post suggests it really is placing a publisher on a continuum between these poles.

Predatory publishing has emerged as a professional problem for academics and their institutions, as well as a broader societal concern. As these journals have proliferated, they have brought to the fore a debate over what constitutes legitimate science, which has been centred on attempts to define and demarcate predatory from non-predatory publications. However, given the complexity of academic publishing – and what constitutes legitimacy – establishing a concrete definition has proved challenging. There is considerable diversity in the types, combinations and degrees of illegitimacy in questionable academic journals, which ultimately raises the question: is it possible to define predatory publishing in such a binary way?

Predatory publishing bug or feature?
A key feature of many open access business models is the Article Processing Charge (APC). Whereby, publishers instead of receiving flat subscription fees, are remunerated for each published article. This provides a ‘predatory’ incentive for less scrupulous publishers to publish articles quickly and without appropriate quality control, as, after all, rejected articles consume publisher resources but yield no revenue.

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Demarcating Spectrums of Predatory Publishing: Economic and Institutional Sources of Academic Legitimacy (PrePrint Papers: Kyle Siler | June 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on May 20, 2020

The emergence of Open Access (OA) publishing has altered incentives and opportunities for academic stakeholders and publishers. These changes have yielded a variety of new economic and academic niches, including journals with questionable peer review systems and business models, commonly dubbed ‘predatory publishing.’ Empirical analysis of the Cabell’s Journal Blacklist reveals substantial diversity in types and degrees of predatory publishing. While some blacklisted publishers produce journals with many severe violations of academic norms, ‘grey’ journals and publishers occupy borderline or ambiguous niches between predation and legitimacy. Predation in academic publishing is not a simple binary phenomenon and should instead be perceived as a spectrum with varying types and degrees of illegitimacy. Conceptions of predation are based on overlapping evaluations of academic and economic legitimacy. High institutional status benefits publishers by reducing conflicts between – if not aligning – professional and market institutional logics, which are more likely to conflict and create illegitimacy concerns in downmarket niches. High rejection rates imbue high-status journals with value and pricing power, while low-status OA journals face ‘predatory’ incentives to optimize revenue via low selectivity. Status influences the social acceptability of profit-seeking in academic publishing, rendering lower-status publishers vulnerable to being perceived and stigmatized as illegitimate.

economic sociology, institutions, legitimacy, #O3S18, publishing science

Siler, K. (2018, June 30). Demarcating Spectrums of Predatory Publishing: Economic and Institutional Sources of Academic Legitimacy.

How to manage a multi-author megapaper – Nature Index (Jack Leeming | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on May 19, 2020

Large teams can produce more impactful work, but organizing a paper produced by many can be a major challenge.

For a frog, exposure to the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is very bad news indeed. The fungus thrives in the same wet, hot conditions that frogs favour and it grows on amphibian skin. Frogs breathe through their skin, which is used by almost all species for electrolyte exchange. Chytrid prevents electrolytes from entering the animal’s body, which eventually causes a heart attack.

The topic of authorship in team science should be discussed in a professional development workshop and practice resources beyond 101 research integrity awareness efforts.  AHRECS has developed a downloadable ppt with embedded audio by Prof. Mark Israel (also on Patreon).  We have included links to 29 related reads.

Chytrid fungus species are responsible for significant amphibian population reductions in Central and North America, Europe and Australia. Although declines were at their worst in the 1980s, one 2004 study suggested that at least 43% of amphibian species are dwindling worldwide. New Guinea, home to 6% of the world’s frog species, is one place chytrid is yet to invade.

Deborah Bower, an ecologist at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, is investigating proactive protection strategies for New Guinea, including increased quarantine measures and an island-wide surveillance programme.

Such collaboration is unusual in Bower’s field, where single-author papers are common. “When the fungus gets to New Guinea, more than 100 frog species could go extinct,” she says. “The island has a complex political system; it’s half Papua New Guinea and half Indonesia. There’s not much local experience in dealing with the disease. We brought in scientists from the US and Australia who had experience with chytrid, plus experts from a policy background who have worked with governments on large-scale changes.”

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