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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(US) Is it time to revise the definition of research misconduct? (Papers: David B. Resnik | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 9, 2019


Often the US approach to research integrity is held up as the gold standard, but it isn’t without its critics and problems. Enshrining national arrangements in law both elevates their standing but also reduces their agility.  A regulatory approach can make it easier to argue for institutional resources to implement, while also can result in a greater fixation on complying with the letter of the law but not necessarily its spirit. We agree its high time for learned academies to get tough on sexual harassment and bullying, but national approaches to research misconduct must encompass the breadth of destructive/toxic/bad behaviour and be agile enough to respond to emergent problems and evolving societal expectations. And that isn’t ‘just’ a gender and International Women’s Day issue.

U.S. federal policy defines research misconduct as fabrication of data, falsification of data, or plagiarism (FFP). In recent years, some have argued or suggested that the definition of research misconduct should also include sexual harassment, sabotage, deceptive use of statistics, and failure to disclose a significant conflict of interest (COI). While the arguments for revising the definition of misconduct used by federal agencies to include misbehaviors other than FFP are not convincing at this point in time, the arguments for revising definitions used by other organizations, such as professional societies, universities, or journals, may be. Since these other organizations play an important role in promoting integrity in science and deterring unethical behavior, they may consider adopting definitions of misconduct that extend beyond FFP. Debates about the definition of research misconduct are a normal and healthy part of broader discussions about integrity in science and how best to promote it. These debates should continue even if the federal definition of misconduct remains unchanged.

Research misconduct, fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, definition, sexual harassment, sabotage, statistics

David B. Resnik (2019) Is it time to revise the definition of research misconduct?, Accountability in Research, 26:2, 123-137, DOI: 10.1080/08989621.2019.1570156

(US) Will Me Too Activism Cost Professor Her Job? – Inside Higher Ed (Scott Jaschi | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 8, 2019

A Vanderbilt faculty member, considered a hero to many women in science, finds her once promising tenure bid has stalled.

BethAnn McLaughlin is a hero to many women in academe, especially those in science. She founded a nonprofit called #MeTooSTEM to draw attention to the harassment of women in academic science, much by prominent men who are considered leaders of their fields.

It’s hard to be entirely confident what’s really going on here and your instinct will be shaped by your attitude to UsTooSTEM campaign, but the least you can say about the described tenure process is that it doesn’t look good.

She has spoken out against “harassholes” and has named names in public speeches, asking why some scientists are still showered with honors for their science despite the way they have treated women. She has urged members of the National Academy of Sciences to resign unless all harassers are removed from its ranks.}
McLaughlin also had notable success — where others have complained for years and achieved nothing — in taking on Rate My Professors last year. McLaughlin, assistant professor of neurology and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, tweeted at the website that ranks faculty members, “Life is hard enough for female professors. Your ‘chili pepper’ rating of our ‘hotness’ is obnoxious and utterly irrelevant to our teaching. Please remove it because #TimesUP and you need to do better.” After a social media campaign took off to support her request, Rate My Professors announced it would take down the dubious “hotness” rating.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

Persistent Underrepresentation of Women’s Science in High Profile Journals (Papers: Yiqin Alicia Shen, et al | 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on March 7, 2019


Happy International Women’s Day. In addition to this 2018 paper reflecting on a situation that is frankly unacceptable in the 21st century, we’ve included links to some other relevant items.

Past research has demonstrated an under-representation of female editors and reviewers in top scientific journals, but very few studies have examined the representation of women authors within original research articles. We collected research article publication records from 15 high-profile multidisciplinary and neuroscience journals for 2005-2017 and analyzed the representation of women over time, as well as its relationship with journal impact factor. We found that 1) Women authors have been persistently underrepresented in high-profile journals. This under-representation has persisted over more than a decade, with glacial improvement over time. 2) The percent of female first and last authors is negatively associated with a journal’s impact factor. Since publishing in high-profile journals is a gateway to academic success, this underrepresentation of women may contribute to the lack of women at the top of the scientific academic ladder.

Shen YA., Webster JM., Shoda Y (2018) Persistent Underrepresentation of Women’s Science in High Profile Journals. bioRxiv. doi:
Publisher (Open Access):

Organ transplants from executed Chinese prisoners and research ethics – Radio National ABC (Norman Swan | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 5, 2019

Macquarie University researchers say hundreds of journal papers in the transplant field don’t follow ethical guidelines in declaring whether or not their research includes transplants from executed prisoners in China.

The researchers want the papers retracted, saying it creates a moral hazard for the entire field of research.

Professor Wendy Rogers

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