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On Retraction in Philosophy – Digression&Impressions (Eric Schliesser | September 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 20, 2018

Hypatia is published by Wiley and so falls under Wiley’s policy on retraction, which reads, in relevant part: “On occasion, it is necessary to retract articles. This may be due to major scientific error which would invalidate the conclusions of the article, or in cases of ethical issues, such as duplicate publication, plagiarism, inappropriate authorship, etc.” Wiley also subscribes to the Code of Publishing Ethics (COPE), which give further guidance on dealing with direct and social-media reports of problems with papers, including a requirement to contact the author and get a response from them, and an instruction to separate complaints that “contain specific and detailed evidence” from those which do not.

At least on the basis of what’s in the public domain, there seems to be no case at all for retraction…

2) If (1) is set aside and the open letter is interpreted as a list of problems meriting retraction, it seems pretty clear that it falls wildly short of Wiley’s retraction policy. There is no suggestion that there are any ethical problems with Professor Tuvel *in the sense meant by Wiley’s policy* : she does not fabricate data nor plagiarise; she conducts no formal research with subjects and so cannot have failed to get research permission; she has not published the article elsewhere. (Her alleged failure to “seek out and sufficiently engage with scholarly work by those who are most vulnerable to the intersection of racial and gender oppressions” would fall ridiculously short of counting as an ethical failing in this sense, even if the open letter provided specifics.)

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Dark past of deep-brain stimulation – Nature (Christian Lüscher | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 1, 2018

Christian Lüscher considers an alarming career from the early days of psychiatry.

Many people consider deep-brain stimulation (DBS) to have begun in 1987 in Grenoble, France, when Pierre Pollak and Alim Benabid stopped a person’s tremor by delivering high-frequency pulses of electricity to her thalamus. In fact, more than three decades earlier, a psychiatrist called Robert G. Heath at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, had experimented with this approach. Now, science writer Lone Frank pulls Heath (1915–99) from obscurity for her exploration of DBS, The Pleasure Shock.

As AHRECS readers know, we believe there is a trap in using egregious ethical lapses/scandals in human research ethics professional development activities, but this awful story is a less commonly known example and a chance to talk about the ends not justifying the means.

Frank has traced and interviewed surviving patients, former collaborators, family members and current DBS scientists. The result is a rarity: a thrilling, well-researched read. Above all, it is a chilling reminder of how early neurosurgical experimentation knew few ethical boundaries — even firmly within the medical and academic establishment. Heath was chair of Tulane’s psychiatry and neurology department for 31 years, from 1949 to 1980.
Today, DBS is an approved treatment for Parkinson’s disease, dystonia (uncontrollable muscle contractions) and essential tremor. Other indications, such as therapy for obsessive–compulsive disorder, depression and addiction, are the focus of intensive research. Just a few patients are treated ‘off label’, with mixed results.

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Identifying and Mitigating Risk of Violence in the Scientific Workplace (Papers: Renée Binder, et al | 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on February 13, 2018

 Forensic psychiatrists can have an important role in helping to improve safety in the scientific workplace by evaluating the potential for violence and develop- ing strategies to mitigate the risk. Forensic psychiatrists engage in violence risk assessment in both criminal and civil settings.1 In fact, core competencies of forensic psychiatry fellowships include being able to opine about risks of reoffending and making decisions about hospitalization and release. In addition, forensic psychiatrists develop skills in protecting their personal safety as they work with potentially dangerous evaluees and work in correctional settings.

Valuable, but scary, discussion. A salient reminder that being a psychologist doesn’t necessarily mean a person will spot the warning signs of impending violence.

In contrast to psychiatrists’ experience and expertise, of psychiatrists within the academic setting, scientists rarely, if ever, have the proper skills to identify or mitigate risk in the workplace. There may be a lack of awareness that warning signs occur and often precede violent acts.2 Similarly, non–mental health clinicians are typically not trained in assessing and mitigating risk of violence.
The authors of this article work as Deans and Director of Academic Affairs at a large research university. They are often consulted by leaders, faculty, staff, and trainees about problematic behaviors exhibited in the clinical and scientific workplace. One of the authors (R.B.) is also a forensic psychiatrist and has been able to develop training and consultation for the dean’s office about recognizing and mitigating risk. As violence in the scientific workplace receives more attention, forensic psychiatrists should expect to be called on for their expertise on this matter…

 Binder, R., Garcia, P., Johnson, B. and Fuentes-Afflick, E. (2017). “Identifying and Mitigating Risk of Violence in the Scientific Workplace.” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online 45(4): 400-403.
Publisher (Open Access):

Seven Costs of the Money Chase: How Academia’s Focus on Funding Influences Scientific Progress – APS (James McKeen | September 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on January 13, 2018

This essay is adapted from the article “Psychology’s Replication Crisis and the Grant Culture: Righting the Ship,” published as part of the Special Symposium on the Future of Psychological Science in the July 2017 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.

You may recall Willie Sutton, the thief who, when asked by a reporter why he robbed banks, purportedly replied, “because that’s where the money is.” Whether or not Sutton actually said this (he denied it), the Willie Sutton Principle makes a point self-evident to those familiar with the matching law: When organisms, including academicians, are confronted with two or more choices that differ substantially in reinforcement value (read: grant dollars), they will apportion more of their efforts to the alternative possessing the highest reinforcement value. This pattern of behavior is amplified when administrators impose incentives (e.g., tenure, promotions, awards, salary increases, resources) and penalties (e.g., threats of being denied tenure, loss of laboratory space) tied to the acquisition of grant dollars.

As our field gradually rights the ship — addressing questionable research practices (QRPs) that have contributed to the replication crisis — we have been insufficiently proactive in confronting institutional obstacles that stand in the way of our scientific progress.

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