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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Friday afternoon’s funny – Your Study Has Been Retracted0

Posted by Admin in on December 16, 2016

We are retracting your study. I wanted you to know before the announcement.

What’s the problem?

There are anomalies in your data.

Is that bad?

Not if you can explain them.

Hang on, let me Google “anomalies.”

It appears you faked some of the data.

I prefer to say we “enhanced” it.


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What should you do if a paper you’ve cited is later retracted? – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | November 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on December 13, 2016

We all know that researchers continue to cite papers long after they’ve been retracted, posing concerns for the integrity of the literature. But what should you do if one of the papers you’ve cited gets retracted after you’ve already cited it?

We posed this question to some members of the board of directors of our parent non-profit organization, who offered up some valuable advice based on many years of experience working at journals and organizations such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

The first step: Determine whether the fact a reference has been retracted has any impact on the conclusions of your own paper. From Elizabeth Wager, publications consultant, Sideview; former chair, COPE:

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500+ Resources – Part Two of Nominations of best resources0

Posted by Admin in on December 8, 2016

This second nomination of favourite resources is from Associate Professor Lisa Wynn, Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. Next week we’re going to be sharing some more nominations of people’s nomination of favourite resources? Got your own favourite? Drop us a line to with your suggestion.

Beall’s list of predatory publishers: Web site | Resource Library entry – As the AHRECs site notes, “the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research direct that the results of research should only be reported once…. This underlines the importance of the selection of a quality publisher/avenue to ensure the maximum impact for your work.” In other words, if you can only publish your data once, you need to make sure that you’re publishing in the right place! Unfortunately, I’ve seen younger scholars make naive decisions about publishers that have been disastrous for their careers. For example, one recent graduate from another university proudly told me that a publishing house had sought out him to publish his completely unrevised PhD thesis! Skeptical (because if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is), I checked on Beall’s list and found that it was one of those publishing houses that publish anything, without peer review, publishing on demand at extraordinarily high prices. The outcome is a book that few will ever purchase, a publisher that looks bad on his CV, and this naive student signed over the copyright to this publisher, so now he can’t publish the content of his rich PhD thesis anywhere else. Now I make a practice of warning all my PhD students to check the Beall’s list before they make any publishing decisions.

The University of New Hampshire’s 5 case studies in research ethics: Web site | Resource Library Entry –  Each is a short (~2 pages) summary of a famous recent case of research misconduct. These would be good to teach with; there’s enough ambiguity in each case to lend itself to lively debate, and they’re all real cases featured in news headlines, not hypothetical scenarios.

The In The News section features a lot of interesting links, including a thoughtful WIRED article by Zoltan Boka (web site | Resource Library entry) about Facebook’s attempt to institute its own in-house ethics committee to review research, after the backlash of negative publicity following revelations that Facebook had manipulated its news feed algorithms to study what would happen when people received more positive or negative news items — without getting consent from any of its “research participants” or even informing them that they were being manipulated and studied. As Boka points out, having an entirely in-house ethics committee that are all Facebook employees means its committee will never be impartial and is susceptible to pressures from above to approve research projects that benefit Facebook.

Two new Australian research integrity cases reported by Retraction Watch (November 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on November 24, 2016

A  grad student was caught in the crossfire of fraud – and fought back

In March, 2013, a graduate student joined the lab of a prominent researcher in Australia, investigating new therapies for Parkinson’s. A few months later, everything fell apart.

In September 2013, the University of Queensland (UQ) announced it was retracting one of the lab’s papers, returning the money used to fund the research and launching a fraud investigation. Since then, the scandal has grown to the point where the lead researcher and his co-author have been convicted of fraud in an Australian court.

Now, the graduate student is fighting back. After losing her research project and being escorted off campus for allegedly erratic behavior, she has appealed to UQ to reimburse her for tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, and is now awaiting a verdict from a government ombudsman. The graduate student goes by “Dominique,” which is not her real name; Retraction Watch is keeping her identity confidential to protect her privacy.

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Journal editor resigns over firestorm from circumcision article

Circumcision is a hot topic. So hot, questions about a reviewer’s potential conflict with the author of an article promoting circumcision prompted a journal editor to resign, and one academic to call another a “fanatic.”

It began in August, when Brian Morris, professor emeritus of molecular medicine at the University of Sydney, published a critique of a paper that itself had critiqued the practice of circumcision. But the sole reviewer of Morris’s article was a frequent co-author of his, Aaron Tobian of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In his reference section, Morris listed five papers on which he and Tobian were co-authors.

A tipster forwarded us emails from Eduardo Garin, editor in chief of the journal, saying he had resigned from the journal after it refused to retract the paper, despite the fact that its sole reviewer was a frequent collaborator of the author. However, Garin is still listed as editor in chief on the journal’s site.

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