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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Competition drives researchers to counselling – and exit door – Times Higher Education (Jack Grove | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 5, 2020

Poll of 4,000 researchers reveals half have sought or wanted help for mental health problems, and four in 10 are victims of bullying or harassment

Half of researchers have sought or wanted professional help to deal with anxiety or depression, according to a landmark survey that blames competition and targets for creating an “aggressive” culture of bullying and overwork.

Further to the item we posted yesterday, this item from the UK should give everyone pause.  The toxic work environment in research institutions have real consequences that we cannot ignore or dismiss.

Thirty-four per cent of the 4,000 researchers who completed the Wellcome Trust poll, most of whom were based in the UK, said that they had sought professional help for depression or anxiety during their research career, and a further 19 per cent had wanted to do so.

Women were more likely to have sought help than men, with 38 per cent having done so, compared with 25 per cent of males. Only 44 per cent of respondents agreed that their workplace offered adequate well-being support.

Among other findings, the survey, published on 15 January, reveals:

  • Forty-three per cent of respondents said that they had experienced bullying or harassment at work, with women more likely to be victims (49 per cent) than men (34 per cent).


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Universities must overhaul the toxic working culture for academic researchers – The Guardian (Anton Muscatelli | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 4, 2020

A survey has warned that researchers are too stressed. It’s up to universities to improve their working environment

Academic research is an exciting, creative and varied endeavour, yet there is growing evidence that our culture has developed unhealthy levels of anxiety and stress. As the UK increases research and development spending – all the more important after Brexit – we will see much-needed growth in the number and significance of researchers. Yet it’s clear that we also need to make changes to their working conditions.

This is underscored by a new survey from research funder Wellcome, which says that 78% of researchers think that high levels of competition are creating unkind working conditions, while 57% warn of a long-hours culture. The findings resonate with my own experience: I have seen this stress during my academic career and through my conversations as a university leader. They also mirror the results of our own recent internal survey on research culture.

This is why I believe that universities must unite to create a research culture that is truly supportive and will sustain our talented research community as they address the social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

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Tell it like it is – Nature Human Behaviour (Editorial | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 2, 2020

Every research paper tells a story, but the pressure to provide ‘clean’ narratives is harmful for the scientific endeavour.

Research manuscripts provide an account of how their authors addressed a research question or questions, the means they used to do so, what they found and how the work (dis) confirms existing hypotheses or generates new ones. The current research culture is characterized by significant pressure to present research projects as conclusive narratives that leave no room for ambiguity or for conflicting or inconclusive results.

We have seen this in grant applications where, in several instances, the applicants almost deliberately ignored work of others that contradicted their hypotheses or findings rather than to place their own work in context.

The pressure to produce such clean narratives, however, represents a significant threat to validity and runs counter to the reality of what science looks like.

Prioritizing conclusive over transparent research narratives incentivizes a host of questionable research practices: hypothesizing after the results are known, selectively reporting only those outcomes that confirm the original predictions or excluding from the research report studies that provide contradictory or messy results. Each of these practices damages credibility and presents a distorted picture of the research that prevents cumulative knowledge.

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(China) ANU study says China deliberately falsifying data on organ transplants – The Canberra Times (Kirsten Lawson | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 31, 2020

New research blows the lid on China’s claim to have stopped using prisoners and groups such as Falun Gong for organ donation, finding that China appears to have systematically falsified its official data.

The Australian National University research, published on Friday, said analysis of the data implied “deliberate human intervention”, showing centrally coordinated data falsification “has clearly taken place”.

Simply, the rise in the numbers of transplants was “too neat to be true” and appeared to be generated using a simple quadratic equation, familiar to high school students.

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