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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

COPE Forum 2 June 2020: What does peer review mean in the arts, humanities and social sciences? – COPE (June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 30, 2020

The topic for discussion at our June 2020 COPE Forum asked the question: are there differences in gender and diversity issues in arts, humanities, and social sciences in peer review from other disciplines?

In the recent study by COPE in collaboration with Taylor & Francis on the arts, humanities and social science (AHSS) disciplines, respondents focused on a number of language, quality, diversity and inclusivity issues. In terms of the most frequently identified issues, these were:

1. Addressing language and writing quality barriers while remaining inclusive
2. Issues around the way in which authors receive and respond to criticism
3. Detecting plagiarism and poor attribution standards
4. Issues handling responses from reviewers to authors
5. Issues of self-plagiarism
6. Difficulties in upholding anonymity to authors and/or reviewers during peer review
7. Recognising and dealing with bias in reviewer comments
8. Assuring fair representation of new voices and diverse perspectives
9. Potential conflict of interest between authors and reviewers
10. Managing complaints and appeals

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Just How Historic Is the Latest Covid-19 Science Meltdown? – WIRED (Adam Marcus & Ivan Oransky | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 28, 2020

Don’t blame last week’s journal retractions on the scary pace of the pandemic. “Once-in-a-lifetime” scandals like this seem to happen all the time.

WHEN The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine pulled an influential pair of Covid-19 papers last Thursday, it was a rare event in scientific publishing. For medical researchers, this was like seeing The Washington Post and The New York Times take down related news stories at the same time—a confluence of editorial failures that raises dire questions about what went wrong and why. But how surprising is this scandal, really? Could these be among “the biggest retractions in modern history,” as one observer described the news about the paper in The Lancet? That depends entirely on how you read history. Science meltdowns of this type—and the “biggest” retractions that ensue—occur with shocking regularity. Again and again, over decades, scientists and the public have had their confidence in the enterprise shaken by these sorts of disturbing revelations; and then, again and again, over decades, everyone has been surprised. Cue Casablanca.

The latest scandal is, indeed, a bad one. At the moment, we don’t know the full story of what went wrong, beyond that the papers’ authors and the journals’ editors decided that they could no longer trust the underlying data. Both studies purportedly drew from the medical records of 96,000 patients with Covid-19, seen at hundreds of different hospitals around the world. The NEJM article reported that those with cardiovascular disease were at increased risk for death from Covid-19, and that the use of certain heart medications did not appear to compound that risk. The Lancet paper reported that the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine did not help the 15,000 patients who took them; in fact, these medications seemed to cause significant harm.

The giant data set was never made available for inspection by other scientists, which would be critical for demonstrating that results are reproducible. More astounding, the private and secretive company that owned the data, called Surgisphere, denied full access to the papers’ authors too. That’s bad faith, and it violates best practices for respectable science.

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(EU) Governance of research integrity: Options for a coordinated approach in Europe – EMBO (Sandra Bendiscioli Michele S. Garfinkel | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 28, 2020

This report is the result of an EMBO project to analyse whether and how a more coordinated approach in Europe would contribute to improving the integrity of research and meeting the challenges of handling cases of research misconduct. We analysed potential functions for a European body, the main ones being investigatory, advisory, and oversight. We also looked at other mechanisms, including the coordination of procedures used by European research performing organizations, funders and publishers. The project included a literature search, and input from an international group of experts through interviews and a workshop organized in partnership with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Science Forum (GSF).

To ensure trust in scientific knowledge, scientific1 research must be conducted responsibly and to the highest standards. However, scientific research is not immune from problems: breaches of good practice, accepted norms, regulations and ethical behaviour.

In the past 20 years or so, an increasing number of cases of breaches of good research practice worldwide have been reported and have reached public attention. Most well known cases involve practices considered to be serious misconduct, which are generally identified as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism (FFP). However, many other less sensational practices often referred to as questionable research practices (QRP) also threaten the quality of research outputs. Evidence from surveys of researchers’ practices, and statistics related to problematic images found in scientific papers, shows that the incidence of QRP is high (e.g. Fanelli, 2009; Pulverer, 2015; Bik et al., 2016). To protect the quality, validity and reliability of research results, and public trust in scientific research, all breaches of good research practice must be addressed appropriately.

Table of contents

Summary i

1. Introduction 1

2. Methodology 4

3. Advantages and disadvantages of existing systems 5

4. An international body: Potential advantages and disadvantages 12
4.1. Structural options: Intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations 13
4.2. Potential role: Investigatory, oversight, advisory, platform for information exchange 14
4.3. Potential domain: Scientific organizations, law enforcement organizations, labour organizations 18
4.4. Options for funding 19

5. Options for implementing specific mechanisms 20
5.1. An international body established by a European scientific organization 20
5.2 An international body established by a European funder or a group of funders 22
5.3 An international body established by an international NGO 23
5.4 An international body established by a private entity 25

6. Other mechanisms: coordination of procedures 26

7. Conclusions 2

8 Acronyms 31

References 32

Appendices 36
Appendix 1 Biographies and institute information 36
Appendix 2 Workshop and interview information 37

Participant list 40 Interviewees 41

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(EU) Make Way for the Robots! Human- and Machine-Centricity in Constituting a European Public–Private Partnership (Papers: Kjetil Rommetveit, et al | September 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on June 26, 2020


Even though not directly research integrity-related, this lengthy open-access paper gives an interesting insight from Europe into the very near future of human-autonomous robot collaboration.

This article is an analytic register of recent European efforts in the making of ‘autonomous’ robots to address what is imagined as Europe’s societal challenges. The paper describes how an emerging techno-epistemic network stretches across industry, science, policy and law to legitimize and enact a robotics innovation agenda. Roadmap is the main metaphor and organizing tool in working across the disciplines and sectors, and in aligning these heterogeneous actors with a machine-centric vision along a path to make way for ‘new kinds’ of robots. We describe what happens as this industry-dominated project docks in a public–private partnership with pan-European institutions and a legislative initiative on robolaw. Emphasizing the co-production of robotics and European innovation politics, we observe how well-known uncertainties and scholarly debates about machine capabilities and human–machine configurations, are unexpectedly played out in legal scholarship and institutions as a controversy and a significant problem for human-centered legal frameworks. European robotics are indeed driving an increase in speculative ethics and a new-found weight of possible futures in legislative practice.

Rommetveit, K., van Dijk, N. & Gunnarsdóttir, K. Make Way for the Robots! Human- and Machine-Centricity in Constituting a European Public–Private Partnership. Minerva 58, 47–69 (2020).
Publisher (Open Access):