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We are all complicit in harassment and abuse – Nature (Virginia Valian | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 27, 2019

In August, a prominent professor issued a public apology to Jeffrey Epstein’s victims. He said he had not known about the nature of Epstein’s crimes when he accepted donations from the financial tycoon and serial abuser of underage girls, but he acknowledged responsibility for helping to burnish the criminal’s reputation: information was there for the learning, had he thought to look for it.

The vast majority of scholars will never have crossed paths with Epstein, but many of us — myself included — are guilty of lapses, of instances when we failed to recognize or take steps to prevent abuse. It is past time for us to create effective ways to intervene.

Funding agencies have moved to curtail abuse, but they also helped to create a system that abets it. Research institutions tend to have money and power concentrated in too few hands. They tend to ignore reports of misconduct to ‘protect’ the school.

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“Do we have the will to do anything about it?” James Heathers reflects on the Eysenck case – Retraction Watch (James Heathers | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 12, 2019

We have a tension about resolving inaccuracies in scientific documents when they’re past a certain age.

The Hans Eysenck’s case is a useful and fruitful case for talking about the societal impacts of research misconduct, and to talk about fabrication and conflicts of interest, but it should also be used as a prompt for a proportional response to breaches and our shared responsibilities with regard to research integrity.

Specifically, what should we do with old papers that are shown to be not just wrong, which is a fate that will befall most of them, but seriously misleading, fatally flawed, or overwhelmingly likely to be fabricated, i.e. when they reach the (very high) threshold we set for retraction?

To my way of thinking, there are three components of this:

(1) the continuing use of the documents themselves as citable objects in contemporary research – some research stays current and relevant, other research is consigned to obscurity, or is so completely superseded that it has no bearing on contemporary research whatsoever.

(2) the profile of the authors – some authors of such documents are alive, famous, and have theories with contemporary relevance. Others are dead, obscure, and have theories which have no continuation in any other papers. Like it or not, these authors are treated differently.

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Mice are not people: Fighting spin in medical science – CBC (Kelly Crowe | June 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on August 4, 2019

There was big news in baldness this week — for some furry rodents

“A cure for baldness could be on the way.”

That was the big news in baldness this week as headlines announced a “critical breakthrough,” along with photos of hairless human heads.

It was exciting news — for a mouse.

The baldness breakthrough was unpublished research by a commercially sponsored group that used stem cells to grow new hair through the skin of mice.

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Scandal-weary Swedish government takes over research-fraud investigations – Nature (Holly Else | July 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on July 26, 2019

The Research Misconduct Board is one of the first national agencies tasked with investigating serious research misconduct.

Bruised by a string of high-profile scientific-misconduct cases, Sweden has laid the legislative groundwork for a government agency that will handle all allegations of serious research misconduct. The country follows in the footsteps of neighbouring Denmark, which created the world’s first such agency in 2017.

The Swedish investigative body is a positive move, which is worth emulating by other countries.  It should be complemented by a commitment to genuinely supporting a culture of practice (with nationally co-ordinated professional development and symposia).

Proponents say that handling research-misconduct investigations centrally should ensure equal, impartial treatment. But others say the move will divert resources and attention away from less serious breaches that universities will continue to deal with in-house and which, they argue, cumulatively do more damage than some more serious misdemeanours.

The way in which Swedish research institutes handle allegations of research misconduct has come under fire in recent years — thanks in part to the case of trachea surgeon Paolo Macchiarini. Macchiarini had been accused of misconduct relating to trials of an experimental trachea-transplant method, in which some patients died. On three occasions in 2015, the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm cleared him, but independent investigations commissioned by the Karolinska later found that he had committed misconduct. A 2016 independent commission concluded that the institute’s procedures were flawed.

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