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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Meta-analysis study indicates we publish more positive results – ARS Technica (John Timmer | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 13, 2020
 

Meta-analyses will only produce more reliable results if the studies are good.

While science as a whole has produced remarkably reliable answers to a lot of questions, it does so despite the fact that any individual study may not be reliable. Issues like small errors on the part of researchers, unidentified problems with materials or equipment, or the tendency to publish positive answers can alter the results of a single paper. But collectively, through multiple studies, science as a whole inches towards an understanding of the underlying reality.

Similar findings have been found before, but it’s important to rearticulate the value of negative results to science and practice.  This speaks to poor research culture and training. University education, and even high and primary school, do not acknowledge that failure is part of discovery. The rewards for ‘success’ are high and it is very tempting for students that can lead to research misconduct.

A meta-analysis is a way to formalize that process. It takes the results of multiple studies and combines them, increasing the statistical power of the analysis. This may cause exciting results seen in a few small studies to vanish into statistical noise, or it can tease out a weak effect that’s completely lost in more limited studies.
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But a meta-analysis only works its magic if the underlying data is solid. And a new study that looks at multiple meta-analyses (a meta-meta-analysis?) suggests that one of those factors—our tendency to publish results that support hypotheses—is making the underlying data less solid than we like.

Publication bias

It’s possible for publication bias to be a form of research misconduct. If a researcher is convinced of their hypothesis, they might actively avoid publishing any results that would undercut their own ideas. But there’s plenty of other ways for publication bias to set in. Researchers who find a weak effect might hold off on publishing in the hope that further research would be more convincing. Journals also have a tendency to favor publishing positive results—one where a hypothesis is confirmed—and avoid publishing studies that don’t see any effect at all. Researchers, being aware of this, might adjust the publications they submit accordingly.

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(Queensland, Australia) Analysis challenges slew of studies claiming ocean acidification alters fish behavior – Scienced0

Posted by Admin in on January 11, 2020
 

Over the past decade, marine scientists published a series of studies warning that humanity’s burgeoning carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could cause yet another devastating problem. They reported that seawater acidified by rising CO2—already known to threaten organisms with carbonate shells and skeletons, such as corals—could also cause profound, alarming changes in the behavior of fish on tropical reefs. The studies, some of which made headlines, found that acidification can disorient fish, make them hyperactive or bolder, alter their vision, and lead them to become attracted to, rather than repelled by, the smell of predators. Such changes, researchers noted, could cause populations to plummet.

But in a Nature paper published today, researchers from Australia, Canada, Norway, and Sweden challenge a number of those findings. In a major, 3-year effort that studied six fish species, they could not replicate three widely reported behavioral effects of ocean acidification. The replication team notes that many of the original studies came from the same relatively small group of researchers and involved small sample sizes. That and other “methodological or analytical weaknesses” may have led the original studies astray, they argue.

“It’s an exceptionally thorough replication effort,” says Tim Parker, a biologist and an advocate for replication studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. Marine scientist Andrew Esbaugh of the University of Texas, Austin, agrees that it’s “excellent, excellent work.”

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(India) PhD students to mandatorily learn about research and publication ethics – The Times of India (Sheetal Banchariya | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 7, 2020
 

UGC has made a two-credit course compulsory at the PhD level looking at the increasing cases of plagiarism and publication misconducts.

This is a great initiative, which is worthy of adoption across Australasia.  Such a tangible institutional investment in research integrity will yield excellent results and should be seen as an essential component of an institution’s research training agenda.

With an increase in researches, maintaining quality remains a concern for Indian universities. To introduce students to the basics of research, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved a two-credit course on research ethics and publication misconducts.
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All the PhD students will have to mandatorily pursue the 30-hour course from the academic session 2020-21. The course is divided into six units focussing on the basics of philosophy of science and ethics, research integrity, publication ethics and hands-on sessions to identify research misconducts and predatory publishers.

“In the last 15 years, the number of cases related to unethical practices such as plagiarism, pay and publish have increased. The course follows the management principle known as Corrective and Prevention Actions (CAPA), which will help students identify and stay away from the predatory publishers and dubious journals,” says Bhushan Patwardhan, vice chairman, UGC.

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(China) Academic misconduct standards to be tightened – China Daily Global (Li Yan | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 2, 2020
 

China has strengthened its fight against academic misconduct by publishing new standards defining plagiarism, fabrication, falsification and other violations of research integrity. Experts believe the clarity will make it easier to discipline researchers who violate the rules.

The document, issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology, has been adopted by 20 government agencies ranging from China’s Supreme People’s Court to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Depending on the severity of the offense, punishments can range from canceling a project’s funding to revoking the offender’s titles and permanently banning them from promotion or other research positions. Institutes that connive with or shield violators will also be punished with budget cuts or judicial action.

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