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Disaster-zone research needs a code of conduct – Nature (JC Gaillard & Lori Peek | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 10, 2019
 

Study the effects of earthquakes, floods and other natural hazards with sensitivity to ethical dilemmas and power imbalances.

A magnitude-7.0 earthquake rocked Anchorage, Alaska, in late November 2018. Roads buckled and chimneys tumbled from rooftops. Business operations were disrupted. Schools were damaged across the district. This was the largest earthquake to shake the region in a generation, and there was much to learn. What was the state of the infrastructure? Might further quakes occur? How did people respond? Teams of scientists and engineers from across the United States mobilized to conduct field reconnaissance in partnership with local researchers and practitioners. These efforts were coordinated through the clearing house set up by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in Oakland, California, which provided daily in-person and online briefings, as well as a web portal for sharing data.

This discussion is especially relevant at the moment given the bushfires/megafires raging in Australia (and California) and the volcano eruption on White Island, New Zealand.  Our sincere best wishes and hopes to anyone affected by these awful disasters.

But researchers are not always so welcome in disaster zones. After the deadly Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami on 26 December 2004, hundreds of academics from countries including Japan, Russia, France and the United States rushed to the region to collect perishable data. This influx of foreign scientists angered and fatigued some locals; many declined researchers’ requests for interviews. The former governor of Aceh province, Indonesia, where more than 128,000 people died, described foreign researchers as “guerrillas applying hit-and-run tactics”1. Yet research on tsunami propagation and people’s response to the event has led to improved warnings and emergency-response plans.
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When, on 28 September 2018, an earthquake and tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, dozens of researchers found themselves unable to enter the country2. Indonesian law now requires foreign scientists to obtain a special visa before they can begin research. Data-collection protocols must be submitted to the government in advance and projects must have an Indonesian partner. Violators could face criminal charges and even prison.
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Lycoming College’s “Plagiarism Game” receives a one-up through new coding – Norhcentral PA (NCPA Staff | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 8, 2019
 

“It is a quiet day at Lycoming… when suddenly the campus is taken over by Plagiarism goblins who want to destroy its academic integrity! You are the only person left who can destroy the goblins and restore order to the College!”

Games can be a great complement to exposition in workshops and a fun way for participants to apply what they have learned.  As an avid fantasy roleplayer at high school in the UK and at university in Australia, Gary got especially enthused about this game.

So begins “Goblin Threat,” also known throughout the Lycoming College campus as the Plagiarism Game. Created more than 10 years ago by Mary Broussard, professor and instructional services librarian and coordinator of reference and web services at Lycoming College’s Snowden Library, the game has steadily risen in popularity, receiving more than 200,000 page views in 2018, according to Google Analytics.
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The game revolves around the player traveling through Lycoming College and defeating “plagiarism goblins” by correctly answering questions about plagiarism. Broussard always had an interest in game-based learning, so she applied that interest toward making both an informative and entertaining game. “The point was to make it more enjoyable than a straightforward tutorial on plagiarism,” she said.
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Access the game – https://www.lycoming.edu/library/plagiarism-game/

We’re All ‘P-Hacking’ Now – Wired (Christie Aschwanden | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 7, 2019
 

An insiders’ term for scientific malpractice has worked its way into pop culture. Is that a good thing?

It’s got an entry in the Urban Dictionary, been discussed on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, scored a wink from Cards Against Humanity, and now it’s been featured in a clue on the TV game show Jeopardy. Metascience nerds rejoice! The term p-hacking has gone mainstream.

Results from a study can be analyzed in a variety of ways, and p-hacking refers to a practice where researchers select the analysis that yields a pleasing result. The p refers to the p-value, a ridiculously complicated statistical entity that’s essentially a measure of how surprising the results of a study would be if the effect you’re looking for wasn’t there.

Suppose you’re testing a pill for high blood pressure, and you find that blood pressures did indeed drop among people who took the medicine. The p-value is the probability that you’d find blood pressure reductions at least as big as the ones you measured, even if the drug was a dud and didn’t work. A p-value of 0.05 means there’s only a 5 percent chance of that scenario. By convention, a p-value of less than 0.05 gives the researcher license to say that the drug produced “statistically significant” reductions in blood pressure.

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Chinese ministry investigates duplications in papers by university president – Nature (Andrew Silver | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 6, 2019
 

Four journals also say they are scrutinizing papers coauthored by Cao Xuetao after scientists raise questions about images on Twitter and PubPeer.

The Chinese education ministry is investigating scientific articles authored by high-profile immunologist and university president Cao Xuetao, following suggestions that dozens of papers contain potentially problematic images. Four journals also say they are examining papers from Cao.

The scrutiny comes after US microbiologist Elisabeth Bik raised concerns two weeks ago on Twitter and the post-publication peer-discussion site PubPeer about images in papers written by Cao and his group.

Cao is the president of Nankai University in Tianjin, and his team has pioneered the development of cancer immunotherapies in China. He says that his group is investigating the papers in question, and he is confident that the issues raised do not affect the papers’ conclusions. Cao has been a prominent voice for strengthening research integrity in China, and gave a speech on the topic at the prestigious Great Hall of the People in Beijing earlier this month.

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