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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

We need to relearn how to play nice in peer review – UA/AU (Daniel Harris | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 16, 2019

By changing the way we discuss scholarly work, we will not only improve scholarship but also reduce the unnecessary hostility rampant in academia.

Academia has emerged as an unassuming minefield of mental health hazards. Examples from the scholarly and lay literatures detail rampant depression, anxiety and panic symptoms among academics, especially graduate students. A recent study of over 3,000 PhD students in Belgium revealed that 32 percent were at risk of having or developing a psychiatric disorder. It was also found that compared to a highly educated general population, PhD students had 3.5 times the risk of lost self-confidence and 3.4 times the risk of feeling worthless. Family-work conflicts and a culture of closed decision-making were among the strongest independent predictors of psychiatric distress among participants.

A recent example from the news media described “the silencing effect of academia” and the “need to be thick-skinned” to progress successfully as an academic. Despite the concerning severity and omnipresence of anxiety experienced by the author and the author’s peers, a culture of silence reigned. Nature also published a series of testimonials written by doctoral students and researchers describing their experiences with mental health and suggestions to drive culture change. Establishing support systems, broadening career prospects, and accessing professional mental health services, were among the many suggestions to remain resilient in a viciously competitive, and at times, distressingly lonely work environment. As a PhD student in epidemiology, my lay review of these articles forced me to consider my own journey as a researcher and graduate student in public health.

Like most graduate students, I suffer from imposter syndrome. As such, I obsess about the quality of my work – afraid, at best, to disappoint my department and mentor, and at worst, to have my name blacklisted among the community of public health researchers. While my obsessive tendencies are arguably adaptive, they nonetheless hinder my quality of life and have questionable long-term sustainability. Therefore, like the scientist I am, I went searching for possible etiological explanations for my worsening anxiety. Paradoxically, I discovered that I frequently contribute to the very academic culture causing my own mental health challenges: the unnecessary and unacademic belittling of peer-reviewed work.

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Commentary: a broader perspective on the RePAIR consensus guidelines (Responsibilities of Publishers, Agencies, Institutions, and Researchers in protecting the integrity of the research record) (Papers: Zoë H. Hammatt | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 14, 2019

The topic of responsibilities of publishers, agencies, institutions, and researchers in protecting the integrity of the research record is relevant for each of these stakeholders in the research enterprise. The RePAIR Consensus Guidelines reflect conversations on this important topic among diverse stakeholders rather than a single constituency. As such, they provide a starting point for additional discussion around improving communication among those handling retractions.

To advance the field beyond the Singapore and Montreal Statements and other referenced guidelines such as those produced by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the RePAIR Guidelines could serve as a springboard for articulating points of tension and offering solutions.

If these guidelines seek to offer specific recommendations on procedural aspects of interaction between stakeholders, however, extension beyond existing procedural guidelines (e.g., COPE and CLUE, referenced in the article) would be necessary. Such extension would require thorough literature review and additional consultation to ensure feasibility and a clear focus.

Hammatt, ZH (2018) Commentary: a broader perspective on the RePAIR consensus guidelines (Responsibilities of Publishers, Agencies, Institutions, and Researchers in protecting the integrity of the research record). Research Integrity and Peer Review. 20183:14

Publisher (Open Access):

U.S. judge rules deceptive publisher should pay $50 million in damages – Science (Jeffrey Brainard | April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 10, 2019

A U.S. federal judge has ordered the OMICS International publishing group to pay $50.1 million in damages for deceiving thousands of authors who published in its journals and attended its conferences. It’s one of the first rulings of its kind against one of the largest publishers accused of so-called predatory tactics.

But because it’s a U.S. judgment and OMICS is based in Hyderabad, India, it’s not clear that any money will be collected or shared with researchers who claim OMICS deceived them.

Judge Gloria Navarro of the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada, granted summary judgment without a trial, accepting as uncontroverted a set of allegations made in 2016 by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in Washington, D.C., in its capacity as a consumer watchdog. The ruling also bars OMICS from similar future conduct.

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Open Access, Academic Freedom, and the Spectrum of Coercive Power – Scholarly Kitchen (Rick Anderson | November 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 8, 2019

I’m on the record as having suggested that institutional, funder-imposed, and governmental open access (OA) mandates have troubling implications for academic freedom, given that academic freedom includes — according to the statement promulgated by the American Association of University Professors — “full freedom… in publication.”* You can’t simultaneously enjoy “full freedom in publication” and operate under a regime that requires you to publish in very specific ways — especially when those modes of publication require you to give up important rights granted to you by law.

When I’ve raised these concerns in the past, I’ve often been asked (usually by people who are strongly in favor of institutional, funder-based, and/or governmental OA mandates) whether I have the same concerns about a journal’s or publisher’s requirement that authors relinquish copyright in return for the their publishing services. After all, in both cases the author is being asked to relinquish control over her work in return for something else she wants. Aren’t journal publishers being just as coercive when they require copyright transfer as funders are when they require OA publication with a CC BY license? This question has usually come in relatively constraining forums like Twitter and online commenting threads, where it can be tough to respond effectively to a question this complex. Hence this posting, in which I’ll try to explain my thinking on this issue, which I think is a very important one.

The first crucial thing to bear in mind is that when dealing with questions of freedom and coercion generally, we are not dealing with a binary issue. There’s no scenario available to faculty authors that offers either perfect freedom or absolute constraint. Even at their most free, academic authors are still generally expected by their peers to publish in quality scholarly journals, and their careers are hobbled when they fail to do so; even under the most constraining scenarios, authors usually still have some degree of choice between publishing venues (although some emerging models, like Plan S, would have particularly severe effects on authors’ freedom to choose). So this isn’t about choosing between absolute freedom and total coercion; the issue is how best to balance the tradition of academic freedom with the rights of various kinds of institutions to impose requirements on authors in return for such considerations as employment, funding, or publishing services. As it does in so many situations where different parties’ rights come into conflict, the challenge boils down to trying to find the right balance between the legitimate rights of individuals and an obligation to the collective good — or at least, the “collective good” as understood by people who have power over authors.

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