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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(US) Nobel Prize-winning scientist Frances Arnold retracts paper – BBC News (January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 27, 2020
 

American scientist Frances Arnold, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry, has retracted her latest paper.

This story highlights why lab heads need to be vigilant, rather than just adding their names to papers from their labs. We suspect there are a lot of papers out there that the senior author has not even read them.

Prof Arnold shared the award with George P Smith and Gregory Winter for their research on enzymes in 2018.
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A subsequent paper on enzymatic synthesis of beta-lactams was published in the journal Science in May 2019.
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It has been retracted because the results were not reproducible, and the authors found data missing from a lab notebook.
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Reproduction is an essential part of validating scientific experiments. If an experiment is a success, one would expect to get the same results every time it was conducted.
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Friday afternoon’s funny – Risks already present0

Posted by Admin in on March 27, 2020
 

Cartoon by Don Mayne www.researchcartoons.com
Full-size image for printing (right mouse click and save file)

Some research projects (such as sport-related work) involve participants already engaged in a risky undertaking.  For research ethics reviewers this raises the question of whether their reflection on beneficence is the risks in the substantive activity or only the additional risk introduced by the research activity.

Publishers roll out alternative routes to open access – Science (Jeffrey Brainard | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 21, 2020
 

In the push for “open access” (OA)—making scientific papers immediately free to everyone—it’s easy to forget that publishing costs haven’t vanished. They have simply shifted from subscriptions paid mostly by university librarians to fees charged to authors. Those article-processing fees (APCs), which can be several thousand dollars per paper, raise concerns of their own. Universities fear they could end up paying more to help their scientists publish their work than they do now for subscriptions. Scientists who have small research budgets fret that they won’t be able to afford APCs. And some nonprofit scientific societies that publish journals worry APCs won’t generate enough revenue to support other activities, such as meetings and training.

If the role of research is to illuminate the universe, inform practice and to serve the public good, then something deeply troubling has been twisting and distorting academia.  AHRECS consultant Nik Zeps will be writing about this in the May edition of the Research Ethics Monthly.

Now, two nonprofit publishers of prominent journals have debuted new ways to support OA journals without shifting the burden entirely to authors. “Everybody that we work with is watching these two [new models] closely,” says Michael Clarke, managing partner of the consulting firm Clarke & Esposito, which advises publishers. “There is not currently a good solution.”
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One approach, called Subscribe to Open and implemented today by Annual Reviews, would transform the nature of subscriptions. To make a journal freely available, institutions would be asked for a contribution equivalent to their previous subscription—minus a 5% discount that Annual Reviews is offering to retain a critical mass of paying institutions. To deter freeloading, Annual Reviews says it will reimpose paywalls and rescind the discount if not enough subscribers renew each year. It is planning to pilot the approach in up to five of its 51 titles, many of which are widely cited.
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‘Broken access’ publishing corrodes quality – Nature (Adriano Aguzzi | June 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 21, 2020
 

Funders should award competitive grants directly to journals to underwrite the costs of open access, urges Adriano Aguzzi.

I’m passionately in favour of everyone having open access to the results of the scientific research that their taxes pay for. But I think there are deep problems with one of the current modes for delivering it. The author-pays model (which I call broken access) means journals increase their profits when they accept more papers and reject fewer. That makes it all too tempting to subordinate stringent acceptance criteria to the balance sheet. This conflict of interest has allowed the proliferation of predatory journals, which charge authors to publish papers but do not provide the expected services and offer no quality control.

The problem is not addressed, in my view, by the Plan S updates announced in May by a group of mainly European funders and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington. Plan S is the push to make the research these agencies fund open access on publication from 1 January 2021. I am concerned the implementation of this honourable goal could cause long-term damage to the integrity of the scientific record.

But I know of a fix, and I have seen it in operation. I propose a model in which journals compete not for libraries’ or authors’ money, but for funds allocated by public-research agencies. The major agencies should call for proposals, similar to research-grant applications. Any publisher could apply with its strategic plans and multi-year budgets; applications would be reviewed by panels of scientists and specialists in scientific publishing.

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