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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

What Surveys Tell Us about Scientific Frauds – Laboratory Journal ()0

Posted by Admin in on April 25, 2017

How common is scientific misconduct? To answer this long-standing and crucial question, different approaches have been employed, and they have produced a corresponding variety of estimates. In U.S. government investigations, scientific fraud is documented in about 1 every 100,000 researchers or 1 every 10,000 according to a different counting. Paper retractions from the PubMed library due to misconduct have a frequency of 0.02 %, which led to speculations that between 0.02 and 0.2 % of papers in the literature are fraudulent.

Eight out of 800 papers submitted to The Journal of Cell Biology had digital images that had been improperly manipulated, suggesting a 1 % frequency. Finally, routine data audits conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 1977 and 1990 found deficiencies and flaws in 10–20 % of studies, and led to 2 % of clinical investigators being judged guilty of serious scientific misconduct.

All the above estimates are calculated on the number of frauds that have been discovered and have reached the public domain. This significantly underestimates the real frequency of misconduct, because data fabrication and falsification are rarely reported by whistleblowers (see below), and are very hard to detect in the data. Even when detected, misconduct is hard to prove, because the accused scientists could claim to have committed an innocent mistake. Distinguishing intentional bias from error is obviously difficult, particularly when the falsification has been subtle, or the original data destroyed. In many cases, therefore, only researchers know if they or their colleagues have willfully distorted their data. Many surveys have asked scientists directly about their behavior, but they have used different methods and asked different questions, so their results have been deemed inconclusive and/or difficult to compare.

Fanelli D (2010) What surveys tell us about scientific frauds. BIOforum 14:16-17

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Academic Research in the 21st Century: Maintaining Scientific Integrity in a Climate of Perverse Incentives and Hypercompetition (Papers: Marc A. Edwards and Siddhartha Roy | 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 21, 2017

Over the last 50 years, we argue that incentives for academic scientists have become increasingly perverse in terms of competition for research funding, development of quantitative metrics to measure performance, and a changing business model for higher education itself. Furthermore, decreased discretionary funding at the federal and state level is creating a hypercompetitive environment between government agencies (e.g., EPA, NIH, CDC), for scientists in these agencies, and for academics seeking funding from all sources—the combination of perverse incentives and decreased funding increases pressures that can lead to unethical behavior. If a critical mass of scientists become untrustworthy, a tipping point is possible in which the scientific enterprise itself becomes inherently corrupt and public trust is lost, risking a new dark age with devastating consequences to humanity. Academia and federal agencies should better support science as a public good, and incentivize altruistic and ethical outcomes, while de-emphasizing output.

Edwards Marc A. and Roy Siddhartha. Academic Research in the 21st Century: Maintaining Scientific Integrity in a Climate of Perverse Incentives and Hypercompetition. Environmental Engineering Science. January 2017, 34(1): 51-61. doi:10.1089/ees.2016.0223.

Neutralising fair credit: factors that influence unethical authorship practices (Brad S Trinkle et al 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 19, 2017

This paper provides some valuable insights (albeit from only s US sample) for the design of research integrity professional development strategies for HDR candidates.

This study experimentally tests whether the techniques of neutralisation as identified in the criminal justice literature influence graduate student willingness to engage in questionable research practices (QRPs). Our results indicate that US-born graduate students are more willing to add an undeserved coauthor if the person who requests it is a faculty member in the student’s department as opposed to a fellow student. Students are most likely to add an undeserving author if a faculty member is also their advisor. In addition, four techniques of neutralisation, ‘diffusion of responsibility’, ‘defence of necessity’, ‘advantageous comparison’ and ‘euphemistic labelling’, are associated with student willingness to act unethically. Participants who had received responsible conduct of research training were no less likely to commit the violation than those who had not. Knowledge of these influencing factors for QRPs will provide for opportunities to improve research ethics education strategies and materials.

Trinkle BS, Phillips T, Hall A, Moffatt B (2017) Neutralising fair credit: factors that influence unethical authorship practices. Journal of Medical Ethics Published Online First: 31 January 2017. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2015-103365
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Increased Publication in Predatory Journals by Developing Countries’ Institutions: What it Entails? And What Can be Done? (Papers: Mulubrhan Balehegn | 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 15, 2017

Recently, there has been an alarming increase in the number of “academic” papers published in vanity journals and publishers. Such journals, dubbed predatory because their main objective is making money out of authors, compromise or completely abandon the peer review system. An increase in publishing with such journals, which is common in developing counties, will affect the quality of science, excellence, development, and individual researchers’ and institutions’ professional reputation. In this article, the author discusses strategies for individual researchers and institutions for identifying and discouraging publishing in predatory journals. Moreover, suggestions on how to deal with faculty who have published and already bestowed positions on the grounds of papers published in predatory journals are also given. Strategies and suggestions discussed in this article can provide insights to librarians and publication officers on how to curb the problem of predatory publications.

KEYWORDS: Academic promotion, predatory journals, publication fraud, zombie professors

Balehegn, M. (2017) Increased Publication in Predatory Journals by Developing Countries’ Institutions: What it Entails? And What Can be Done? International Information & Library Review.: 1-4