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Indigenous groups look to ancient DNA to bring their ancestors home – Nature (Nicky Phillips – April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on May 9, 2019

Local communities and geneticists are working together to sequence DNA from remains that were taken from their homelands decades ago.

Several years ago, Gudju Gudju Fourmile welcomed back several members of his Yidinji community who had been taken from their homes in northern Australia almost a century ago. Like many other Indigenous communities in Australia, the Yidinji have worked for decades to bring the bodies of their ancestors home — which Aboriginal communities describe as returning to Country.

Many of the ancestors are off Country as a result of the dehumanizing practices of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when it was common for white collectors to loot graves and sell the remains of Aboriginal people to museums in Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries. “When our remains are off Country, we try to make sure they come back,” says Fourmile, an elder in the community who lives in Cairns. “They need to be comfortable. That’s a big thing for many tribal groups.” And when his community finally reburied its ancestors in 2014, “everybody was so happy. And the Country felt good again,” Fourmile says.

Before the Yidinji elders laid their ancestors to rest, they received a request from scientists who had been analysing the DNA of living community members: could they sequence the ancestors’ genomes, too? With permission granted, a team led by evolutionary geneticist David Lambert at Griffith University in Brisbane extracted DNA from the remains of one individual, and confirmed that the ancient person was closely related to Yidinji people alive today1,2. “When you find something out like that, you jump for joy,” says Fourmile. The event also marked a turning point in the mindset of the community, he says, when members started to realize the potential of DNA analysis to help bring their people back home.

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Censorship in a China Studies Journal – Inside Higher Ed (Elizabeth Redden | April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on May 4, 2019

Scholars say they thought a journal was run on Western standards of free expression, but they found Chinese government control instead.

Yet another account of censorship involving a China studies journal has come to light. And the scholars involved say this case involves an insidious “blurring of boundaries” where they were misled into thinking Western publishing standards would apply when in fact the journal in question was subject to Chinese government censorship.

Lorraine Wong and Jacob Edmond, both professors at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, have written an account of the censorship they encountered when they edited a planned special issue of the journal Frontiers of Literary Studies in China. The journal is published by the Netherlands-based publishing company Brill in association with the China-based Higher Education Press, an entity that describes itself on its website (in Chinese) as affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education. The journal’s editorial board lists scholars from major American and international universities — including Cornell University, Duke University, Harvard University, the University of California, Davis, and the University of Washington — and its editor in chief is based at New York University. The journal’s editorial office is located in Beijing.

Wong and Edmond wrote that the association with Brill, along with the involvement of leading scholars in the field on the editorial board, led them to mistakenly assume the publication standards would be akin to those of other journals in the field published in the U.S. What they found, however, was that the affiliation with the Higher Education Press and the location of the editorial office in Beijing means “the journal is subject to the full range of Chinese government censorship.”

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To move research from quantity to quality, go beyond good intentions – Nature ( Alan Finkel | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on May 3, 2019

Australian chief scientist Alan Finkel calls for formal action to bake in better research practices.

In 1969, I skipped school to watch the Moon landing from home. Fifty years later, I struggle to think of an event that would justify truancy today. It’s not for lack of stunning breakthroughs in research, but rather their frequency: if children neglected their work every time the television reported another scientific milestone that my generation scarcely dared to contemplate, they’d end up with no education at all.

Yet there is a growing rumble of concern about the rigour and reproducibility of published research. Problems of over-hyped analysis and puffed-up CVs are well recognized. Financial and career incentives keep researchers on a treadmill, churning out papers.

We cannot know how many of the 1.6 million or so papers now added every year to the Web of Science database are flawed as a consequence, but we can agree that our focus has to shift from quantity to quality if we are to safeguard against shoddy work.

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Research: Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) (Guidance: SOAS UL | November 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on May 2, 2019

Table of Contents
Research: Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) …. 1
1. Requirement …. 3
2. The Nature of the DPIA …. 3
3. Screening Evaluation …. 4
4. Content and scope …. 4
5. Process …. 5
6. Unmitigated High-Risks …. 5
Appendix 1: Screening Evaluation …. 7
Appendix 2: Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) Template ….8

SOAS University of London’s Research Office has produced a guidance document: Research Data Protection Impact Assessment that is part of the institution’s overall Research Ethics process. It is formulated in line with SOAS’ corporate approach to data and privacy.  Also included below is a trove of other privacy items.

1. Requirement
1.1 The Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) is a requirement that is set out in both the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018.1
1.2 The Research Office has prepared the guide set out here as it relates to Research and it forms part of the overall Research Ethics process. It is formulated in line with SOAS’ corporate approach as set out in the Data Protection Impact Assessment Guide.

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