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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Social sciences lose out again in Common Rule reform (Papers: Robert Dingwall | 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 30, 2017

The Common Rule’s incoherent approach to ethics regulation will change little in the way institutional review boards and researchers interact, says Robert Dingwall.

Dingwall R (2017) Social Sciences Lose out Again in Common Rule Reform. Nature Human Behaviour 1 (April 7, 2017): 83, doi:10.1038/s41562–017–0083.

(Australia) Fake science: Taxpayers shell out more than $3 million for unreliable research – SMH (Timna Jacks | April 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 29, 2017

Taxpayers have spent more than $3 million on unreliable academic research, as science experts warn that research fraud and plagiarism in Australia is not being properly policed.

Twenty-one research projects largely funded by the federal government breached integrity standards in the past two years, figures from the Australian Research Council reveal.

The federal government body, which provides tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded research grants, stopped funding three grants, recovered funding for one grant, and placed restrictions on funding for one researcher.

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Updated AGU Ethics Policy Available for Member Comment – EOS (Billy M. Williams | March 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 26, 2017

Proposed new language identifies harassment as a form of scientific misconduct.

When the American Geophysical Union (AGU) charged a panel last June with reviewing the organization’s ethics policy and practices, then AGU President Margaret Leinen asked the team to focus on harassment and work climate issues in the Earth and space sciences. Now AGU’s Task Force on Scientific Ethics has completed its charge and is seeking feedback from AGU members on updates it is recommending to AGU’s Scientific Integrity and Professional Ethics Policy.

National research integrity codes often explicitly exclude matters such as harassment, but as recent cases have highlighted harassment can often be a big part of research integrity cases and its effects can be the most toxic.

The current policy is silent on the important issue of harassment and other types of negative behavior such as discrimination and bullying. With the updates, AGU would extend the ethics policy to members in general, rather than only to volunteers and to participants during meetings, as it currently applies.
“Member feedback during AGU town halls made it clear that we needed to update our ethics policy so that it better fosters a culture of diversity and inclusion,” said Eric Davidson, who became AGU President in January. “AGU believes the Earth and space science community should be a safe and welcoming environment for individuals of all backgrounds. We’re now taking a strong stance by addressing this topic of harassment directly in the AGU Ethics policy.”

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Access the new AGU Scientific Integrity and Professional Ethics policy

What Surveys Tell Us about Scientific Frauds – Laboratory Journal ()0

Posted by Admin in on April 25, 2017

How common is scientific misconduct? To answer this long-standing and crucial question, different approaches have been employed, and they have produced a corresponding variety of estimates. In U.S. government investigations, scientific fraud is documented in about 1 every 100,000 researchers or 1 every 10,000 according to a different counting. Paper retractions from the PubMed library due to misconduct have a frequency of 0.02 %, which led to speculations that between 0.02 and 0.2 % of papers in the literature are fraudulent.

Eight out of 800 papers submitted to The Journal of Cell Biology had digital images that had been improperly manipulated, suggesting a 1 % frequency. Finally, routine data audits conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 1977 and 1990 found deficiencies and flaws in 10–20 % of studies, and led to 2 % of clinical investigators being judged guilty of serious scientific misconduct.

All the above estimates are calculated on the number of frauds that have been discovered and have reached the public domain. This significantly underestimates the real frequency of misconduct, because data fabrication and falsification are rarely reported by whistleblowers (see below), and are very hard to detect in the data. Even when detected, misconduct is hard to prove, because the accused scientists could claim to have committed an innocent mistake. Distinguishing intentional bias from error is obviously difficult, particularly when the falsification has been subtle, or the original data destroyed. In many cases, therefore, only researchers know if they or their colleagues have willfully distorted their data. Many surveys have asked scientists directly about their behavior, but they have used different methods and asked different questions, so their results have been deemed inconclusive and/or difficult to compare.

Fanelli D (2010) What surveys tell us about scientific frauds. BIOforum 14:16-17

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