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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Do interventions to reduce misconduct actually work? Maybe not, says new report – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on April 16, 2016

Excerpt: Can we teach good behavior in the lab? That’s the premise behind a number of interventions aimed at improving research integrity, invested in by universities across the world and even private companies. Trouble is, a new review from the Cochrane Library shows that there is little good evidence to show these interventions work. We spoke with authors Elizabeth Wager (on the board of directors of our parent organization) and Ana Marusic, at the University of Split School of Medicine in Croatia.

Retraction Watch: Let’s start by talking about what you found – looking at 31 studies (including 15 randomized controlled trials) that included more than 9500 participants, you saw there was some evidence that training in research integrity had some effects on participants’ attitudes, but “minimal (or short-lived) effects on their knowledge.” Can you talk more about that, including why the interventions had little impact on knowledge?

Elizabeth Wager and Ana Marusic: Because studies use different measures of success, we grouped them into those looking at effects on behavior, attitude or knowledge. Obviously, it’s easier to measure researchers’ attitudes towards misconduct than to measure actual misconduct. You would expect training should increase knowledge, but many studies showed little effect. This might be because most researchers already know about types of misconduct and it isn’t lack of knowledge that causes them to go astray. A few studies looked at effects immediately after training but found these had worn off after a few months.

Click here to read this interview

From research integrity to researcher integrity: issues of conduct, competence and commitment (Papers: Sarah Jane Banks 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on April 6, 2016

Paper presented at Academy of Social Sciences and British Sociological Association event, Virtue Ethics in the Practice and Review of Social Science Research, London, 1st May 2015

Abstract: This presentation will discuss the concept of researcher integrity in the context of the rapidly growing concern with research integrity. I will explore researcher integrity as a complex quality of character or ‘virtue’, which has a focus on the motivations and commitments of the researcher as a practitioner in the research community. This contrasts with the common focus on research integrity, which usually considers the integrity of the research practice – although clearly the integrity of the researcher and of the research organisation influence the conduct of research. I will discuss what is meant by researcher integrity, including weak and strong versions of the concept (conduct according to extant standards, versus reflexive commitment to ideals of what research should be at its best), and how character-based approaches to ethics complement and extend conduct-focussed, regulatory approaches. Whilst the concept of ‘character’ is disputed, and there are critiques of ‘character-building’ education programmes, there are also equally valid challenges to regulatory, conduct-focussed approaches to ethics.

Banks S J (2015) From research integrity to researcher integrity: issues of conduct, competence and commitment. In: Virtue Ethics in the Practice and Review of Social Science Research, May 1, 2015, BSA meeting rooms, London SW6 2PY.
Conference page:…

Challenges in the Ethical Review of Peer Support Interventions (Papers: David Simmons et al 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on April 4, 2016


Ethical review processes have become increasingly complex. We have examined how 8 collaborating diabetes peer-support clinical trials were assessed by ethics committees.

The ethical reviews from the 8 peer-support studies were collated and subjected to a thematic analysis. We mapped the recommendations of local Institutional Review Boards and ethics committees onto the “4+1 ethical framework” (autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice, along with concern for their scope of application).

Ethics committees did not consistently focus on tasks within the 4+1 framework: many conducted reviews of scientific, organizational, and administrative activities. Of the 20 themes identified across the ethical reviews, only 4 fell within the scope of the 4+1 framework. Variation in processes and requirements for ethics committees were particularly evident between study countries. Some of the consent processes mandated by ethical review boards were disproportionate for peer support, increased participant burden, and reduced the practicality of testing an ethical intervention. Across the 8 studies, ethics committees’ reviews included the required elements to ensure participant safety; however, they created a range of hurdles that in some cases delayed the research and required consent processes that could hinder the spontaneity and/or empathy of peer support.

Ethics committees should avoid repeating the work of other trusted agencies and consider the ethical validity of “light touch” consent procedures for peer-support interventions. The investigators propose an ethical framework for research on peer support.

Simmons D, Bunn C, Nakwagala F, Safford MM, Ayala GX, Riddell M, Graffy J, Fisher EB (2015) Challenges in the Ethical Review of Peer Support Interventions. Annals of Family Medicine;13 Suppl 1:S79-86. doi: 10.1370/afm.1803.

Denmark and Sweden take another look at how they investigate scientific misconduct – ScienceNordic (Catherine Jex 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on March 31, 2016

“A series of scandals in Nordic science in recent years has forced Denmark and Sweden to rethink how they investigate allegations of research misconduct–often referred to as academic fraud.

In November last year, the Swedish Ministry of Education and Research launched an inquiry into how other countries are handling academic fraud, and to assess the role of the independent board of reviewers who currently investigate such allegations.

Simultaneously with the launch of the Swedish inquiry, the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science published 12 recommendations to improve the handling of such allegations in Denmark–first by refining their definition on what actually constitutes scientific misconduct.”

Catherine Jex. Denmark and Sweden take another look at how they investigate scientific misconduct. ScienceNordic, 27 March 2016,