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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

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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New tool looks for signs of image doctoring – Retraction Watch interview (Alison McCook | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 1, 2018

One of the most common reasons for retractions is image manipulation. When searching for evidence of it, researchers often rely on what their eyes tell them. But what if screening tools could help? Last week, researchers described a new automated tool to screen images for duplication (reported by Nature News); with help from publishing giant Elsevier, another group at Harvard Medical School is developing a different approach. We spoke with creators Mary Walsh, Chief Scientific Investigator in the Office for Professional Standards and Integrity, and Daniel Wainstock, Associate Director of Research Integrity, about how the tool works, and why — unlike the other recently described automated tool — they want to make theirs freely available.

Retraction Watch: What prompted you to develop this tool?

Mary Walsh and Daniel Wainstock: When reviewing concerns that two published images, representing the results of different experiments, might actually be the same, we typically assess whether the images are too similar to derive from different samples. The answer is often obvious to the naked eye, but not always, and we wanted to determine if it was possible to quantify the similarities.

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The Lose-Lose Ethics of Testing Self-Driving Cars in Public – Wired (Aarian Marshall | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on May 30, 2018

HERE’S THE STRANGE thing about where I live: When I walk outside my office, down to the busy, honk-filled four-lane road that runs by it, I’m immediately part of a wide scale science experiment. A lot of us are, here in San Francisco, in metro Phoenix, Arizona, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We didn’t sign any forms or cast any votes, but here we are, in a living lab for self-driving tech.

The fatalities associated with the real world/on-public-roads testing of autonomous cars highlight risk considerations for research projects that are conducted in the community – where the potential harms reach well beyond the direct participants.

A lot of the time, that’s exciting. One day, maybe crossing the street on foot at night won’t feeling like taking your life into your hands. This really could be the way to stop the deaths of 40,000 people on US roads every year. The blind, the old, those who can’t operate vehicles—their lives might shift wholly in a world where vehicles drive themselves.

Other times, it’s terrifying. This week, the living lab claimed its first life: a self-driving Uber hit and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, late Sunday evening as she crossed a wide road in Tempe, Arizona.

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Is it time to nationalise academic publishers? – THE (David Matthews | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on May 26, 2018

With state intervention back in vogue, and publishers’ profit margins still sky-high, journals could be the next monopoly to come under scrutiny

After decades of free-market ideological dominance on both sides of the Atlantic, nationalisation (or at least anti-monopoly state intervention) is back on the agenda.

This is a fairly speculative piece, but we thought the reported publisher profit margins made it worth including.

“Rail, water, energy, Royal Mail, we’re taking them back,” shadow chancellor John McDonnell (above) told a Labour Party on the brink of power last year. Even the Financial Times has run a series of investigations asking hard questions about the wisdom of past privatisations.
Meanwhile in the US, monopoly-busting, in industries ranging from health insurance to airlines, has become a rallying cry of Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. Critics have also taken aim at tech companies, which Warren has compared to the US oil, sugar and railroad trusts of the 19th century, accusing them of exploiting the scale of their digital networks to create natural monopolies over advertising. Eye-watering profit margins for Google and Facebook (24 per cent and 50 per cent respectively) are the result.

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