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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Paper Accepted…Unless the Letter Was Forged – Scholarly Kitchen (Angela Cochran | April 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 15, 2018
 

Predation. It’s discussed all the time. Predatory journals are scamming unsuspecting authors by promising quick publication, and low, low fees to a never-heard-of-before open access journal. Alternatively, it may be true that some authors are the ones taking advantage of low cost OA in order to push through shoddy work and get credit for it. Conferences are another headache. Researchers attend conferences to get their work published and to network. There is no shortage of conferences promising to do just that only for attendees to realize when they get there that all is not what was advertised. In fact, a new website with a familiar name is offering attendees help in identifying these conferences.

Another scam seems to be taking hold in certain parts of the world. Over the last 5 years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has become aware of seven fake acceptance letters for our journals. Here’s how this goes:

An author contacts us and says, “Thank you for accepting my paper. Your letter said that the paper would be in the December issue but I looked and it’s not there. Please inform me of the new publication date.”

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Advocating for publishing peer review – ASAbio (Iain Cheeseman | April 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 13, 2018
 

Journals play a critical role in the scientific process, refining research through peer review and disseminating it to appropriate communities. At its best, the publishing process is a partnership among editors, staff, authors, reviewers, and readers. Each group has a vested interest in working together to ensure a robust and fair editorial evaluation, rigorous and constructive review, and the broadest visibility of the work. This process functions best when each group communicates openly with the others as we strive to refine the way that science is conducted and disseminated.

One of the advantages of publishing peer reviews is that it will expose illegitimate publishers for what they are (vanity/pay-to-play publishers) but further study would be prudent on the impact of reputational concerns on reviews and to address the potential for compounded bias in reviews.

The last few years have seen a revolution in life sciences publishing with the adoption of preprints and increasingly diverse experiments from traditional journals. A recent meeting organized by ASAPbio, HHMI, and Wellcome focused on bringing more transparency and innovation to our peer review system. One of the most important tangible recommendations to come from the meeting, in my opinion, was the proposal that journals should widely adopt more transparency in the peer review process. There was near unanimous consensus from the participants—which included scientists, representatives of journals, scientific societies, and funders—that more journals should commit to publishing the peer reviews of every paper that appears in the journal. Similar to the peer review processes offered by EMBO Journal, eLife, and others, the reviewers could still remain anonymous, but this transparency would provide much better insight into the assessment process and nature of the paper.
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Make your voice heard: writing letters to the editor
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Why all randomised controlled trials produce biased results (Papers: Alexander Krauss | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 7, 2018
 

Abstract

Background: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are commonly viewed as the best research method to inform public health and social policy. Usually they are thought of as providing the most rigorous evidence of a treatment’s effectiveness without strong assumptions, biases and limitations.

Objective: This is the first study to examine that hypothesis by assessing the 10 most cited RCT studies worldwide.

Data sources: These 10 RCT studies with the highest number of citations in any journal (up to June 2016) were identified by searching Scopus (the largest database of peer-reviewed journals).

Results: This study shows that these world-leading RCTs that have influenced policy produce biased results by illustrating that participants’ background traits that affect outcomes are often poorly distributed between trial groups, that the trials often neglect alternative factors contributing to their main reported outcome and, among many other issues, that the trials are often only partially blinded or unblinded. The study here also identifies a number of novel and important assumptions, biases and limitations not yet thoroughly discussed in existing studies that arise when designing, implementing and analysing trials.

Conclusions: Researchers and policymakers need to become better aware of the broader set of assumptions, biases and limitations in trials. Journals need to also begin requiring researchers to outline them in their studies. We need to furthermore better use RCTs together with other research methods.

Key messages

  • RCTs face a range of strong assumptions, biases and limitations that have not yet all been thoroughly discussed in the literature.
  • This study assesses the 10 most cited RCTs worldwide and shows that trials inevitably produce bias.
  • Trials involve complex processes – from randomising, blinding and controlling, to implementing treatments, monitoring participants etc. – that require many decisions and steps at different levels that bring their own assumptions and degree of bias to results.

Keywords: Randomised controlled trial, RCT, reproducibility crisis, replication crisis, bias, statistical bias, evidence-based medicine, evidence-based practice, reproducibility of results, clinical medicine, research design

Krauss, A. (2018) Why all randomised controlled trials produce biased results. Annals of Medicine. 50:4, 312-322, DOI: 10.1080/07853890.2018.1453233
Publisher (Open Access): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07853890.2018.1453233

Why detailed retraction notices are important (according to economists) – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 4, 2018
 

When journals retract a paper but don’t explain why, what should readers think? Was the problem as simple as an administrative error by the publisher, or more concerning, like fraud? In a recent paper in Research Policy, economists led by Adam Cox at the University of Portsmouth, UK, analyzed 55 retractions from hundreds of economics journals, mostly issued between 2001 and 2016. (Does that number sound low? It should — a 2012 analysis of retractions in business and economics found they are a relatively rare occurrence.) In the new paper, Cox and his colleagues analyzed how many notices failed to provide detailed information, the potential costs of these information gaps, and what journals should do about it.

Retraction Watch: You used “rational crime theory” to analyze retraction notices and their consequence to offenders in economics. Could you explain briefly how rational crime theory works in this context?

Adam Cox: Rational crime theory is a framework for explaining why an individual may commit a crime. This involves an (implicit) cost-benefit analysis by (prospective) perpetrators of crime, or in our case, (prospective) perpetrators of research impropriety. If the benefits exceed the costs then a rational individual may be tempted to participate in the crime.

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