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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

When ghosts plagiarise – ABC News (Brian Martin 2008)0

Posted by Admin in on January 14, 2016

“Plagiarism is commonly seen as a grievous scholarly sin – as a form of cheating. Most attention is focused on students. Some universities have adopted text-matching software such as Turnitin to detect and deter plagiarism. Students have little recourse when caught out.

But when a prominent figure is accused of plagiarism, the dynamics can be rather different. Julie Bishop, former minister of education and now deputy leader of the opposition, is listed as the author of a chapter in a new book edited by Peter van Onselen titled Liberals and Power. Passages in the chapter were taken, without acknowledgement, from a speech by New Zealand businessman Roger Kerr.

Bishop’s chief of staff Murray Hansen generously took responsibility. He said he had written Bishop’s chapter and had committed the plagiarism. But if Hansen wrote the chapter, why was Bishop listed as the author?”

Brian Martin. When ghosts plagiarise. ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 31 October 2008, On the plagiarism by the ghostwriter for politican Julie Bishop.

Plagiarism by university students: the problem and some proposals – Tertangala (Brian Martin 1992).0

Posted by Admin in on January 14, 2016

“Plagiarism — the use of other people’s words or ideas without giving proper credit — is only one part of the general problem of cheating. Anecdotal evidence as well as a few studies suggest that student cheating is much more widespread than usually recognised. (Although exams are thought to prevent cheating more than essays, actually the rate of cheating on exams may be higher than for any other assessment mode.)

Most cheating is undetected. For every student caught plagiarising, it is almost certain that many more plagiarisers escape detection.

Elimination of plagiarism by detection and penalties is labour-intensive and ultimately impossible. One article recommends that, to detect plagiarism, each essay be read four times. But this only picks up copying from published sources; copying from other essays, or false authorship of essays, is seldom detectable or provable.”

Brian Martin. Plagiarism by university students: the problem and some proposals. Tertangala, 20 July – 3 August 1992, p. 20.

(News from Brazil) Sharp rise in scientific paper retractions – University World News (Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on January 12, 2016

“Cases of scientific malpractice in Brazil increased significantly between 2009 and 2012, according to a study looking at article retraction in scientific journals.

The study, published in Science and Engineering Ethics, says that this could threaten the country’s growing popularity as a research partner.

The paper looked at retracted research articles in two major Latin American and Caribbean databases: the Scientific Electronic Library Online, or SciELO, and the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information, or LILACS. Out of 2,000 articles from around the world published in the databases between 2009 and 2014, 31 were later pulled back, including 25 articles from Brazil, the researchers found.”

University  World News. (2015). Sharp rise in scientific paper retractions. Retrieved 13 January, from

Facebook fiasco: was Cornell’s study of ‘emotional contagion’ an ethics breach? – The Guardian (Chris Chamber 2014)0

Posted by Admin in on January 9, 2016

“It’s become farcical. Whoever we ask, nobody seems to know anything. Did the study have ethical approval? First the answer was yes. Then it was no. Then it was maybe. Then it was no again. Was it funded by the US army? First the university said yes. Then it said no, without explanation. Why did the scientific journal not state whether the study was ethically approved, as required by its own policy? Sorry, editor Susan Fiske told me, I’m too busy to answer that question.

I’m referring of course to the study published last week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which researchers from Facebook and Cornell University teamed up to study “emotional contagion”. Over a one-week period in 2012, they changed the content of news feeds for a random sample of Facebook users. For one group of users they removed content that contained positive words, for another group they removed content that contained negative words. They then measured whether subtly biasing the emotional content in this way changed the emotional content of status updates by the users. Sure enough it did. Making feeds more negative led to more negative behaviour, and vice versa.

Scientifically, the study is remarkable in some ways and unremarkable in others. The sample size of 689,003 is truly huge – possibly the largest in the history of psychology. And the results are interesting insofar as they show that very small changes in the emotional state of our environment can have knock-on effects for how we act (and presumably how we feel) in social networks. On the other hand, the effects in the study are minuscule, among the smallest statistically significant results ever published. As psychologist Tal Yarkoni has pointed out, were the effects to be expressed in terms of average human height, they would have an effect of just one 20th of an inch across the entire male population of the United States.”

Chamber C (2014, 1 July) Facebook fiasco: was Cornell’s study of ‘emotional contagion’ an ethics breach? The Guardian. Retrieved from (accessed 5 December 2015)

(Reference from the updated Booklet 37 of the Griffith University Research Ethics Manual. Perpetual licences are available for use by all researchers within an institution. Institutions have used the GUREM as the basis for producing their own research ethics manual, as a professional development resource and a teaching and learning materials for HDR candidates.)

Also see
1. (25/03/14) Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks
2. (01/04/14) Facebook fiasco: was Cornell’s study of ‘emotional contagion’ an ethics breach? 
3. (10/05/15) Social media personhood as a challenge to research ethics: Exploring the case of the Facebook experiment
4. (10/05/15) Untangling research and practice: What Facebook’s “emotional contagion” study teaches us
5. (20/05/16) Scientists are just as confused about the ethics of big-data research as you
6. (17/06/16) Are Research Ethics Obsolete In The Era Of Big Data?