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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Chileans Criticize US Scientists Over Treatment of Ata the “Alien” Mummy – Futurism (Kristin Houser | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 26, 2018
 

It looks like an alien, but its story is much stranger. And now it’s causing an international incident.

This case provides a useful opportunity to reflect upon the respectful and ethical handling of human remains, which calls to mind the historical failures of national museums – such as the long-overdue repatriation of Australian indigenous material

Chilean scientists and government officials are protesting a study published in the journal Genome Research on March 22. It’s not the study’s conclusions or science they take issue with, though. It’s the study’s subject: the body of a mummified Chilean girl.
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Alien enthusiasts are pretty obsessed with Ata, a 6-inch-long skeleton that was discovered in 2003. Oscar Munoz found the tiny mummy in a leather pouch in a Chilean ghost town near the Atacama Desert (hence its name), and soon after, rumors began swirling as to Ata’s origin.
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Ata had a conical head shape and large eye sockets that looked straight out of a sci-fi film. The mummy was barely the length of a 19-week-old human fetus, but had bones as mature as those of a six-year-old. It also had hard teeth and only 10 pairs of ribs while humans have 12.

 

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Ohio State just released a 75-page report finding misconduct by a cancer researcher. What can we learn? – Retraction Watch (Ivan Oransky | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 25, 2018
 

Today, the Ohio State University (OSU) announced that Ching-Shih Chen, who resigned from a professorship there in September, was guilty of “deviating from the accepted practices of image handling and figure generation and intentionally falsifying data” in 14 images from eight papers. Chen had earned more than $8 million in Federal grants, and his work had led to a compound now being testing in clinical trials for cancer. (For details of the case, see our story in Science.)

This interview points to one of the advantages of well-documented research misconduct procedures and fullsome inquiry reports. Of course, that can expose situations where procedures aren’t followed – which isn’t a bad thing.

OSU — which has been involved in several high-profile cases of misconduct recently — released a lightly-redacted version of their investigation report, and we asked C.K. Gunsalus, who has decades of experience reviewing similar cases, to examine it for us. A Q&A follows.
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Retraction Watch (RW): What’s your impression of the case? How does it compare in significance with others you’ve looked at?
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C.K. Gunsalus (CKG): This research is clinical, and was covered by an investigational new drug application (IND). Any time you have translational research that has been or is in the process of human use, the significance is high.
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Cambridge University rejected Facebook study over ‘deceptive’ privacy standards – The Guardian (Matthew Weaver | April 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 25, 2018
 

Exclusive: panel told researcher Aleksandr Kogan that Facebook’s approach fell ‘far below ethical expectations’

A Cambridge University ethics panel rejected research by the academic at the centre of the Facebook data harvesting scandal over the social network’s “deceptive” approach to its users privacy, newly released documents reveal.

Perhaps, like us, you’ve been wondering what happened with the research ethics review of the initial data collection by Kogan (who is a researcher based at a UK university). That rumination may have deepened given Mark Zuckerberg’s reported testimony to the US Congress committee. But this latest revelation turns the story in a surprising direction. The work was in fact denied ethics approval by the Cambridge research ethics committee!

A 2015 proposal by Aleksandr Kogan, a member of the university’s psychology department, involved the personal data from 250,000 Facebook users and their 54 million friends that he had already gleaned via a personality quiz app in a commercial project funded by SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica.

Separately, Kogan proposed an academic investigation on how Facebook likes are linked to “personality traits, socioeconomic status and physical environments”, according to an ethics application about the project released to the Guardian in response to a freedom of information request.
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The documents shed new light on suggestions from the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, that the university’s controls on research did not meet Facebook’s own standards. In testimony to the US Congress earlier this month, Zuckerberg said he was concerned over Cambridge’s approach, telling a hearing: “What we do need to understand is whether there is something bad going on at Cambridge University overall, that will require a stronger action from us.”
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The retraction process needs work. Is there a better way? – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 23, 2018
 

Retractions take too long, carry too much of a stigma, and often provide too little information about what went wrong. Many people agree there’s a problem, but often can’t concur on how to address it. In one attempt, a group of experts — including our co-founder Ivan Oransky — convened at Stanford University in December 2016 to discuss better ways to address problems in the scientific record. Specifically, they explored which formats journals should adopt when publishing article amendments — such as corrections or retractions. Although the group didn’t come to a unanimous consensus (what group does?), workshop leader Daniele Fanelli (now at the London School of Economics) and two co-authors (John Ioannidis and Steven Goodman at Stanford) published a new proposal for how to classify different types of retractions. We spoke to Fanelli about the new “taxonomy,” and why not everyone is on board.

Retraction Watch: What do you think are the biggest issues in how the publishing industry deals with article amendments?

Daniele Fanelli: The issues are fundamentally three, and they are closely interconnected. First, the formats of amendment issued by most journals are too few, often consisting of only two types: “corrections” and “retractions.” Second, the information conveyed by these amendments is very limited. Not only, as RW has highlighted many times in the past, editors are often reluctant to accurately portray the causes underlying an amendment, but more generally I think that the format of a short notice of correction or retraction often impedes effective communication of the nature of errors that can have important repercussions for a broader literature. Thirdly, scientists have little incentive to “do the right thing” and promptly amend any scientific or ethical flaws in their work. Without an active participation of authors, amendments are rarer and harder to produce than we would like. To be fair, much progress has been made on all these fronts, but more and more concerted innovation is needed.

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