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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Rude paper reviews are pervasive and sometimes harmful, study find – Science (Christie Wilcox | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 26, 2019
 

There’s a running joke in academia about Reviewer 2. That’s the reviewer that doesn’t bother to read the manuscript a journal has sent out for evaluation for possible publication, offers condescending or outright offensive comments, and—of course—urges the irrelevant citation of their own work. Such unprofessional conduct is so pervasive there’s even a whole Facebook group, more than 25,000 members strong, named “Reviewer 2 Must Be Stopped!” But it is no laughing matter, concludes a new study that finds boorish reviewer comments can have serious negative impacts, especially on authors belonging to marginalized groups.

Peer reviewers are supposed to ensure that journals publish high-quality science by evaluating manuscripts and offering suggestions for improvement. But often, referee comments stray far from that mission, found the new PeerJ study, which surveyed 1106 scientists from 46 countries and 14 disciplines. More than half of the respondents—who were promised anonymity—reported receiving at least one “unprofessional” review, and a majority of those said they had received multiple problematic comments.

Those comments tended to personally target a scientist, lack constructive criticism, or were just unnecessarily harsh or cruel, the authors report. For example, one author received a review that stated: “The phrases I have so far avoided using in this review are ‘lipstick on a pig’ and ‘bullshit baffles brains.’” Another reported receiving this missive: “The author’s last name sounds Spanish. I didn’t read the manuscript because I’m sure it’s full of bad English.”

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(UK) King’s College London’s enquiry into Hans J Eysenck’s ‘Unsafe’ publications must be properly completed (Papers: David F Marks & Roderick D. Buchanan & Roderick D. Buchanan | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 23, 2019
 

Abstract
This journal recently drew attention to an extensive body of highly questionable research published by Hans J. Eysenck in collaboration with Ronald Grossarth-Maticek. The subsequent enquiry by King’s College London concluded that 26 publications were unsafe and warranted retraction. However, the enquiry reviewed only a subset of the 61 questionable publications initially submitted to them, only those Eysenck co-authored with Grossarth-Maticek. The enquiry excluded publications where Eysenck was the sole author. The King’s College London enquiry must be properly completed. They have a pressing responsibility to re-convene and broaden their review to include all Eysenck’s publications based on the same body of research – including an additional 27 publications recently uncovered. The unsatisfactory nature of the KCL review process makes the case for a National Research Integrity Ombudsperson even stronger.

Keywords
enquiry, fraud, H J Eysenck, King’s College London, personality, smoking, unsafe papers

Marks, D. F., & Buchanan, R. D. (2019). King’s College London’s enquiry into Hans J Eysenck’s ‘Unsafe’ publications must be properly completed. Journal of Health Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105319887791
Editorial (Open Access): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1359105319887791

Predatory journals: no definition, no defence – Nature (Agnes Grudniewicz, et al | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 19, 2019
 

Leading scholars and publishers from ten countries have agreed a definition of predatory publishing that can protect scholarship. It took 12 hours of discussion, 18 questions and 3 rounds to reach.

When ‘Jane’ turned to alternative medicine, she had already exhausted radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other standard treatments for breast cancer. Her alternative-medicine practitioner shared an article about a therapy involving vitamin infusions. To her and her practitioner, it seemed to be authentic grounds for hope. But when Jane showed the article to her son-in-law (one of the authors of this Comment), he realized it came from a predatory journal — meaning its promise was doubtful and its validity unlikely to have been vetted.

While many agree  Beal’s list had significant limitations and had faulty results, the absence of a robust definition of predatory publishers has meant there is a poor defence against their toxic impact. This piece provides an excellent approach to the problem.

Predatory journals are a global threat. They accept articles for publication — along with authors’ fees — without performing promised quality checks for issues such as plagiarism or ethical approval. Naive readers are not the only victims. Many researchers have been duped into submitting to predatory journals, in which their work can be overlooked. One study that focused on 46,000 researchers based in Italy found that about 5% of them published in such outlets1. A separate analysis suggests predatory publishers collect millions of dollars in publication fees that are ultimately paid out by funders such as the US National Institutes of Health (NIH)2.
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One barrier to combating predatory publishing is, in our view, the lack of an agreed definition. By analogy, consider the historical criteria for deciding whether an abnormal bulge in the aorta, the largest artery in the body, could be deemed an aneurysm — a dangerous condition. One accepted definition was based on population norms, another on the size of the bulge relative to the aorta and a third on an absolute measure of aorta width. Prevalence varied fourfold depending on the definition used. This complicated efforts to assess risk and interventions, and created uncertainty about who should be offered a high-risk operation3.
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(US) Politics and Open Access – Scholarly Kitchen (Robert Harington | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on December 18, 2019
 

Rumors have been circulating in recent weeks of an impending US Executive Order focusing on public access to federally funded research and open data. It appears that there is indeed a document making the rounds of Federal Funding Agencies for comment. The order has apparently been in the works for a while now, emanating from the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which has been tight-lipped about the existence of the order. There seems to be little concern over the fate of non-profit and society publishers. Among the likely recommendations appears to be that of a zero embargo on published journal articles. Essentially, this means that articles from researchers who are federally funded will be freely available immediately following publication.

If you add this to the Plan S initiative from Europe, you may be forgiven for predicting the end of academic publishing as we know it. At the very least you may imagine the forthcoming discussions that will ensue, with hackles raised on all sides and little empathy shown for differing viewpoints.

Here I want to explore the environment. It may be useful to provide insight into what a zero embargo could do to the publishing landscape, as well as how researchers may respond. First though I thought it may be useful to understand exactly how an Executive Order works here in the US, especially for those who may be reading in other parts of the world.

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