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Hundreds of universities targeted in global data steal – University World News (Yojana Sharma | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 2, 2018

Information emerged last week of data stolen from universities around the world after the United States Department of Justice released details indicting nine Iranian nationals for stealing research from universities, research institutions, technology companies and other organisations, including the United Nations.

The amount of data stolen is staggering in scale, equivalent to eight billion double-sided pages of text. More than 300 universities were targeted and around 8,000 professors’ email accounts were compromised, it is alleged.

The information stolen from universities was used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – Iran’s intelligence organisation and other Iranian government and university clients – or sold for profit inside Iran, according to US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, releasing the indictment details on 23 March.

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Cambridge Analytica controversy must spur researchers to update data ethics – Nature (Editorial | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on March 30, 2018

A scandal over an academic’s use of Facebook data highlights the need for research scrutiny.

Revelations keep emerging in the Cambridge Analytica personal-data scandal, which has captured global public attention for more than a week. But when the dust settles, researchers harvesting data online will face greater scrutiny. And so they should.

At the centre of the controversy is Aleksandr Kogan, a psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, UK. In 2014, he recruited people to complete a number of surveys and sign up to an app that handed over Facebook information on themselves — and tens of millions of Facebook friends. Kogan passed the data to SCL, a UK firm that later founded controversial political-consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica in London. (All those involved deny any wrongdoing.)

Last week, Facebook announced restrictions on data harvesting by third parties, including drastically reducing the kinds of information that app developers can access. (It had already changed its rules in 2014 to stop developers gleaning data from users’ friends through their apps.) But damage has been done: the public has good reason to be angry about the way in which researchers and companies have seemingly used personal data without consumers’ full understanding or consent.

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Authorship wars: academics outline the rules for recognition – THE (Holly Else | November 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on March 23, 2018

Holly Else reveals the results of a THE poll seeking to uncover the extent of authorship abuses as well as views on what criteria should generate credit

“The final draft came back and all we had was a red circle around my boss’ name and an arrow that pointed to the front of the authorship list.”

This incident is seared into the memory of a pre-doctoral academic from India, who recently submitted a manuscript for publication. The researcher, who spoke to Times Higher Education on condition of anonymity, says that the principal investigator in the laboratory where he works full-time made a “minimal technical contribution” to the project in question, and merely corrected a few grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in the previous draft, before promoting himself to lead author.

“It’s unfair [but] I don’t really feel like I have much of choice. I am at a junior level…I need to get a bunch of papers out,” the junior academic says, explaining that publications are vital to secure a place on a PhD programme.

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Nature journals tighten rules on non-financial conflicts – Nature (Editorial | January 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on March 18, 2018

Authors will be asked to declare any interests that might cloud objectivity

What makes a conflict of interest in science? Definitions differ, but broadly agree on one thing: an influence that can cloud a researcher’s objectivity. For some people, that influence can be money. But there are other influences that can interfere, such as institutional loyalty, personal beliefs and ambition.

Such conflicts are likely to be more common, especially outside of the health-science sphere but aren’t discussed nearly enough

Nature and the other Nature Research journals (including the Nature research and reviews journals, Nature Communications, Scientific Reports, Scientific Data, the Nature Partner Journals and the Communications journals) are taking into account some of these non-financial sources of possible tension and conflict. From February, authors of research articles, reviews, commentaries and research analyses will be asked (and expected) to disclose them (see
For this purpose, competing interests (both financial and non-financial) are defined as a secondary interest that could directly undermine, or be perceived to undermine, the objectivity, integrity and value of a publication through a potential influence on the judgements and actions of authors with regard to objective data presentation, analysis and interpretation. Non-financial competing interests can include a range of personal and/or professional relationships with organizations and individuals, including membership of governmental, non-governmental, advocacy or lobbying organizations, or serving as an expert witness.

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