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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The ethics of authorship and preparation of research publications – World Aquaculture Society (Carole R. Engle | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 7, 2020

Graduate students around the world are commonly required to take classes on research ethics that include content related to the ethics of authorship. Scientific journals have established formal policies on the ethics of authorship that are often readily accessible to authors on journal websites.


Part of a journal editor’s responsibility relates to ethical issues associated with the articles published in the journal. While the majority of authors who submit articles to the Journal of the World Aquaculture Society (JWAS) adhere routinely to high ethical standards of authorship, there always are a few exceptions. In some cases, the behavior in question appears unintentional, caused by either a lack of understanding of the issues involved or students and young scientists who lack understanding of publishing ethics. In other cases, however, the unethical behavior is deliberate. Whether deliberate or unintentional, however, the consequences for research misconduct from unethical behavior are intolerable and can be severe. This editorial is written to provide clarity about what constitutes ethical and unethical practices related to publishing in scientific journals and to encourage authors to adhere to them when submitting to JWAS.

Quite useful but is it terribly original (the irony)?  We’ve included links to 22 related reads.

Graduate students around the world are commonly required to take classes on research ethics that include content related to the ethics of authorship. Scientific journals have established formal policies on the ethics of authorship that are often readily accessible to authors on journal websites. In attempting to avoid ethical problems, the manuscript submission process of many journals requires the submitting author to check boxes in response to a series of statements that attest to adherence to key ethical considerations. Authors of articles with decisions to accept must also sign a copyright agreement, a legally binding agreement with the publisher designed to clarify publishing rights and prevent ethical mishaps. Given the stated precautions, it is frankly difficult as an editor to understand why there continues to be so many instances of unethical behavior on the part of authors who submit manuscripts to scientific journals.

The issue of the pressures today on young scientists to focus on the number of articles published and not necessarily the quality is a longstanding topic (Arlinghaus, 2014; Siegel & Baveye, 2010). There is no question that systems which evaluate research scientists exclusively on the number of articles published fuel the competition to publish as many articles as possible, regardless of how small a contribution an individual article makes to the scientific literature (Engle, 2018). Ultimately, however, each scientist is responsible for his/her own actions in response to such existing pressures, and each scientist must personally reflect on whether his/her actions are right or wrong and whether they violate ethical standards. Unethical behavior by research scientists is a form of misconduct that can lead to serious consequences that may include termination of employment. The following issues describe several types of unethical behaviors related to publishing. The final section provides guidelines designed to consistently adhere to high ethical standards when publishing scientific articles.

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Testing of Support Tools for Plagiarism Detection (Papers: Tomáš Foltýnek, et al | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 6, 2020

There is a general belief that software must be able to easily do things that humans find difficult. Since finding sources for plagiarism in a text is not an easy task, there is a wide-spread expectation that it must be simple for software to determine if a text is plagiarized or not. Software cannot determine plagiarism, but it can work as a support tool for identifying some text similarity that may constitute plagiarism. But how well do the various systems work? This paper reports on a collaborative test of 15 web-based text-matching systems that can be used when plagiarism is suspected. It was conducted by researchers from seven countries using test material in eight different languages, evaluating the effectiveness of the systems on single-source and multi-source documents. A usability examination was also performed. The sobering results show that although some systems can indeed help identify some plagiarized content, they clearly do not find all plagiarism and at times also identify non-plagiarized material as problematic.

text-matching software, software testing, plagiarism, plagiarism detection tools, usability testing

Foltýnek, T., Dlabolová, D., Anohina-Naumeca, A., Razı, S., Kravjar, J., Kamzola, L., Guerrero-Dib, J., Çelik, O. & Weber-Wulff}, D. (2020) Testing of Support Tools for Plagiarism Detection. arXiv
Publisher (Open Access):

(China) Chinese state censorship of COVID-19 research represents a looming crisis for academic publishers – London School of Economics Impact Blog (George Cooper | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 4, 2020

Issues of censorship surrounding the publication of scholarly research in China have been prominent since a series of press reports and publisher statements revealed that works had been removed from circulation that were deemed sensitive by Chinese buyers. As George Cooper observes, evidence that Chinese authorities are conducting pre-publication vetting of COVID-19 related research, raises new challenges for publishers seeking to distribute open access research papers on this subject, as there is little ground for publishers to remove these papers from their platforms. As publisher commitments to openness collide with their obligations to operate within the legal frameworks of the countries they operate in, it is argued that COVID-19 presages an overdue discussion on the limits of openness in publishing.

Earlier this month, the websites of Fudan University and the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan briefly revealed a system of pre-publication vetting of COVID-19 research. If accurate, these regulations could have far-reaching consequences, both for research communities in China, and for the global scholarly communications industry. The university notices, now removed, revealed requirements for China-based researchers to seek approval from China’s Ministry of Science and Technology before publishing research on the novel coronavirus, with a special emphasis on articles that pinpoint its origins. Publications will be vetted by government officials, who will assess both their ‘academic value’ and whether the ‘timing for publishing is right,’ raising the spectre of scholarly censorship that routinely shrouds research activities in China. 

For now, China’s restrictions on COVID-19 research apply only to domestic scholarship. But research in China on COVID-19 is published widely, often in high-impact, English-language journals. Given recent precedents, pre-publication restrictions could signal a shift in focus regarding the post-publication distribution of journal articles by non-Chinese scholarly publishers. In recent years, journal articles on topics such as persecution of the Uighur Muslim ethnic group in Xinjiang, civil unrest in Hong Kong, and the ‘three Ts’ – Tiananmen, Tibet and Taiwan – have come under intense scrutiny by Chinese state authorities. Cambridge University Press, Springer Nature, Sage and Taylor & Francis, in 2017 and 2018, were forced to navigate the demands of the General Administration of Press and Publications, rendering the distribution of research containing sensitive keywords, such as ‘Xinjiang’ and ‘Cultural Revolution’, illegal in China. These events led to accusations of censorship complicity, as some publishers took steps to remove or restrict access to sensitive articles on their Chinese-language platforms; whilst others had entire journals removed from circulation by Chinese research importers for refusing to ‘bowdlerize’ their online collections.

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Pseudoscience and COVID-19 — we’ve had enough already – Nature (Timothy Caulfield | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 3, 2020

The scientific community must take up cudgels in the battle against bunk.

Cow urine, bleach and cocaine have all been recommended as COVID-19 cures — all guff. The pandemic has been cast as a leaked bioweapon, a byproduct of 5G wireless technology and a political hoax — all poppycock. And countless wellness gurus and alternative-medicine practitioners have pushed unproven potions, pills and practices as ways to ‘boost’ the immune system.

Thankfully, this explosion of misinformation — or, as the World Health Organization has called it, the “infodemic” — has triggered an army of fact-checkers and debunkers. Regulators have taken aggressive steps to hold marketers of unproven therapies to account. Funders are supporting researchers (myself included) to explore how best to counter the spread of COVID-19 claptrap.

I have studied the spread and impact of health misinformation for decades, and have never seen the topic being taken as seriously as it is right now. Perhaps that is because of the scale of the crisis and the ubiquity of the nonsensical misinformation, including advice from some very prominent politicians. If this pro-science response is to endure, all scientists — not just a few of us — must stand up for quality information.

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