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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

This Rant is for Social Scientists – Inside Higher Ed (Barbara Fister September 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on October 5, 2016

Cognitive dissonance made me do it. If you want social justice, why do you let your research be locked up for profit?

I’m reading Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by urban ethnographer and extraordinarily fine writer Matthew Desmond. It’s a model of narrative non-fiction and ethical story-telling about people whose lives belong to them but whose stories reveal a lot about exploitation, poverty, and the complexity of untangling the multiple strands that go into a social problem. It’s hard to get Evicted that balance right – communicate stories without manipulating either the reader or the subjects. Desmond shows how to tell such stories respectfully and with empathy, somehow magically bringing us inside the circle of lives that are not ours, inviting us to do the work of understanding rather than telling us what to think. I’m not even halfway through yet, but it’s brilliant, and I love the way he weaves something of a journalistic sensibility (for example, pointing out that when he didn’t personally witness something, he confirmed it with multiple sources) with scholarship (e.g. “this experience I’ve just described is consistent with the findings of these studies”). My daughter, who recommended it to me, says she’ll have to read it twice. She knows the footnotes are valuable, but the narrative is so compelling she doesn’t want to break away and look at them this time around.

This book review manages in just a few paragraphs of entrancing prose to artfully make a powerful point about the ethics of conducting research about the poorest in our communities and then publishing in a place and manner accessible to only a lucky few.

It’s not easy to write this well, to combine edge-of-your-seat narrative momentum with scholarly rigor. Not only is it not easy, but we’re schooled to write in an inaccessible style, as if our ideas are somehow better if written in a hard-to-decipher script that only the elite can decode because if people who haven’t been schooled that way can understand it, it’s somehow base and common, not valuable enough. If you’re able to read this message, welcome! You’re one of us. The rest of you are not among the elite, so go away.
Even worse, we think our hazing rituals around publication and validation are more important than the subjects of our research, who couldn’t afford to read it even if we chose to write in a manner that didn’t require an expensive decoder ring with a university seal on it. We say “it’s for tenure” or “that’s the best journal” and think that’s reason enough to make it impossible for people without money or connections to read it.

Read the rest of this review

Under what circumstances could scientific misconduct constitute a civil or criminal wrong? – DBS Law (Callan Stein September 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on October 2, 2016

Lexis Nexis has published an article co-written by Donoghue Barrett & Singal’s Cal Stein and Penningtons Manches’ Jim Kinnier-Wilson reviewing the legal aspects of scientific research misconduct. The article is published in full below.

IP & IT analysis: In this transatlantic article, we take a look at the legal aspects relating to scientific misconduct, both here in the UK and across the pond in the US. Jim Kinnier-Wilson of Penningtons Manches considers the position in the UK and Callan Stein of Donoghue Barrett & Singal outlines the state of play in the US.

Jim Kinnier-Wilson (JKW): In the UK, there is no specific wrong-doing of scientific misconduct. Essentially it is up to each employer to set out the ethical and professional standards that it expects its scientists to adhere to. Nevertheless there are attempts to provide a unified, albeit voluntary, approach through mechanisms such as the Concordat to Support Research Integrity from Universities UK, and the Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research Conduct from the Research Councils of the UK (RCUK).

Within these frameworks, research misconduct has no single definition, but can be thought of to include at least:

  • fabrication
  • falsification
  • plagiarism
  • misrepresentation
  • failure to follow established protocols and ethics standards…

Read the full discussion piece

Company woos researchers with free offers and product discounts – The Sydney Morning Herald (Timna Jacks September 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on September 28, 2016

Like the publisher of the news story AHRECS doesn’t suggest any inappropriate influence or wrong doing, but such offers/discounts do raise uncomfortable questions and may be something that will become more prevalent (in a manner akin to ‘product placement’ in movies/tv shows).

Australian researchers have reaped hundreds of dollars in freebies from a company in exchange for mentioning its product in academic papers.
Researchers from the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at the University of New South Wales and the University of Queensland have referenced products by US-based cell culture manufacturer Cyagen.
The company, which produces transgenic mice embryos and stem cells, offers vouchers worth hundreds of dollars, redeemable of future purchases, if researchers mention their products.

Read the full news story

Robot-Written Peer Reviews – Inside Higher Ed (Jack Grove September 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on September 27, 2016

Computer-generated gobbledygook can pass for the real thing with many faculty members, study finds.

Soulless computer algorithms are already churning out weather bulletins, sports reports, rap lyrics and even passable Chinese poetry.

But it seems machines have now taken another step toward replacing human enterprise by generating their own reviews of serious academic journal papers that are able to impress even experienced academics.

Using automatic text generation software, computer scientists at Italy’s University of Trieste created a series of fake peer reviews of genuine journal papers and asked academics of different levels of seniority to say whether they agreed with their recommendations to accept for publication or not.

Read the full news story