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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Blowback Against a Hoax – Inside Higher Ed (Colleen Flaherty | January 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 11, 2019

Author of a recent academic scam faces disciplinary action by Portland State, for failing to alert his research review board before hoodwinking journal editors with outrageous articles. Many say he’s guilty of bad form, but did he commit misconduct?

There may be value in a covert study such as this, but it has to be argued before the research ethics committee on grounds of merit and justification for covert research. You can’t just say we are going ahead without the research ethics review because there is no way they would approve. You don’t only go to the research ethics committee with studies that they will approve. You need to test your views and argue your case.
How would your institution’s research ethics committee approach a proposed project like this and what would your institution do about the failure to seek ethics approval? We agree with Ivan Oransky’s comments at the end get of this news item.

A hoax revealing that academic journals had accepted fake papers on topics from canine “rape culture” in dog parks to “fat bodybuilding” to an adaption of Mein Kampf met with applause and scorn in the fall. Fans of the project tended to agree with the hoaxers that critical studies scholars will validate anything aligned with their politics. Critics said that the researchers acted in bad faith, wasting editors’ and reviewers’ time and very publicly besmirching academe in the process: the story was covered by nearly every major news outlet.
Now the controversy has flared up again, with news that one of the project’s authors faces disciplinary action at his home institution. Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University and the only one of three researchers on the project to hold a full-time academic position, was found by his institutional review board to have committed research misconduct. Specifically, he failed to secure its approval before proceeding with research on human subjects — in this case, the journal editors and reviewers he was tricking with his absurd but seemingly well-researched papers. Some seven of 20 were published in gender studies and other journals. Seven were rejected. Others were pending before the spoof was uncovered.
“An IRB protocol application should have been submitted to the Office of Research Integrity,” reads a determination letter from Portland state’s IRB dated last month. “University policy requires that all research involving human subjects conducted by faculty, other employees and students [on campus] must have prior review and approval by the IRB.”

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Which kind of peer review is best for catching fraud? – Retraction Watch (Ivan Oransky | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on January 2, 2019

Is peer review a good way to weed out problematic papers? And if it is, which kinds of peer review? In a new paper in Scientometrics, Willem Halffman, of Radboud University, and Serge Horbach, of Radboud University and Leiden University, used our database of retractions to try to find out. We asked them several questions about the new work.

Retraction Watch (RW): You write that “journals’ use of peer review to identify fraudulent research is highly contentious.” Can you explain what you mean?

Willem Halffman and Serge Horbach (WH and SH): The precise role of the peer review system has long been discussed. Two expectations of the system are more or less universally accepted: peer review is supposed to help improve the quality of a submitted manuscript and it is expected to distinguish between high and low quality work. However, there are quite a few expectations of the peer review system that are not as widely shared. These include expectations such as granting equal and fair opportunities to all authors (regardless of gender, nationality etc.), providing a hierarchy of the most significant published results, or detecting errors or outright fraud in submitted papers. Some claim that peer review cannot be expected to perform such functions, as it was never designed nor meant to do so. Others point out that the peer review and editorial system are increasingly remodelled to detect fraud, supported by recent developments such as text similarity scanners, image manipulation scanners or the establishment of editorial ‘integrity czars’. In addition, when new cases of misconduct come to light, the peer review system is often blamed for not filtering out the fraudulent research before it could enter the academic literature. Researchers talk about peer review as if we all know precisely what it is and what it is for, but there is actually quite some variation hidden under that general term.

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Is it time for a new classification system for scientific misconduct? – Retraction Watch (Ivan Oransky | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on January 1, 2019

Are current classification systems for research misconduct adequate? Toshio Kuroki — special advisor to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and Gifu University — thinks the answer is no. In a new paper in Accountability in Research, Kuroki — who has published on research misconduct before — suggests a new classification system. We asked him a few questions about his proposal. The answers are lightly edited for clarity.

Retraction Watch (RW): Why did you feel that a new classification of misconduct was necessary?

Toshio Kuroki (TK): The STAP affair, starring Haruko Obokata, was my inspiration to become a “misconductologist.” In 2016, I published a book in Japanese on research misconduct for the general public.

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Why Cell Systems is publishing Peer Reviews – Crosstalk (Carly Britton | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 29, 2018

Quincey Justman‘s first editorial as Editor-in-Chief of Cell Systems highlights a new type of article: the Peer Review, which showcases the contributions to science that peer reviewers make every day. The Peer Review is separate from, but complementary to, broader forthcoming experiments with transparent peer review conducted by Molecular Cell, Developmental Cell, and Cell Systems.

The first Peer Review from Cell Systems, by John Doyle, Noah Olsman, and Fangzhou Xiao, evaluates the research article “Cytoplasmic Amplification of Transcriptional Noise Generates Substantial Cell-to-Cell Variability,” by Maike Hansen, Leor Weinberger, and their colleagues. Both pieces were published in the October 24 issue of Cell Systems.

Quincey sat down with Cell Press Press Officer Carly Britton to answer some questions about why she wanted to publish this Peer Review.

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