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Australian junior scientists report damaging lack of support at work – Nature (Chris Woolston | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 31, 2020

System built on short-term contracts and grants causes many to consider leaving.

Four out of five early-career researchers in Australia have considered leaving science or their jobs because of factors including questionable research practices and an absence of institutional support, suggests a survey of 658 postdocs and junior faculty members.

What does your institution do to support early career researchers?  This story suggests Australian institutions aren’t doing enough

The study was led by Katherine Christian, a social scientist at Federation University Australia in Ballarat, who is collecting data for her PhD thesis on the challenges faced by early-career researchers in the country. “I found everything I expected, but more so,” she says.

The national survey ran online from March to June 2019; it targeted people who had earned a PhD or equivalent degree within the past ten years and were working at research institutions or universities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine. The results were posted on the preprint server bioRxiv last month (K. Christian et al. Preprint at bioRxiv; 2020).

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“I was shocked. I felt physically ill.” And still, she corrected the record – Retraction Watch (Adam Marcus | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 30, 2020

Two years ago, Julia Strand, an assistant professor of psychology at Carleton College, published a paper in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review about how people strain to listen in crowded spaces (think: when they’re doing the opposite of social distancing).

Finding a mistake in your lauded research can be devastating.  But as this case demonstrates, responding well and publicly can enhance not damage your reputation.

The article, titled “Talking points: A modulating circle reduces listening effort without improving speech recognition,” was a young scientist’s fantasy — splashy, fascinating findings in a well-known journal — and, according to Strand, it gave her fledgling career a jolt.

The data were “gorgeous,” she said, initially replicable and well-received:

‘We planned follow-up studies, started designing an app … for use in clinical settings, and I wrote and was awarded a National Institute of Health grant (my first!) to fund the work.”

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APA chief publishing officer: Ignore paper removal request – Eiko blog (January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 28, 2020

On December 24th 2019, I received a legal threat by the American Psychological Association to remove one of my papers from my personal website. Similar requests have been received by other colleagues recently.

This paper highlights again the conflict between journals as commercial versus them being academic entities.

I appealed the request, and have now heard back from APA’s Chief Publishing Officer that I can ignore the request because “it is not intended to limit researchers in highlighting their works on their personal sites”. At least to me, this appears to constitute a radical change of policy with pretty sweeping implications for psychological researchers, and I therefore describe this issue in some detail below.

2017: APA starts the removal request initiative
To the best of my knowledge, the APA started this initiative in 2017, in emails had the same content and were sent by the same authority (see here for a 2017 example email received by a colleague at Princeton). As I discussed in a blog post about the broken publishing system before, APA additionally asked webhosters such as WordPress to force-edit researchers’ websites, leaving this image on the webpage…

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(US) Nobel Prize-winning scientist Frances Arnold retracts paper – BBC News (January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 27, 2020

American scientist Frances Arnold, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry, has retracted her latest paper.

This story highlights why lab heads need to be vigilant, rather than just adding their names to papers from their labs. We suspect there are a lot of papers out there that the senior author has not even read them.

Prof Arnold shared the award with George P Smith and Gregory Winter for their research on enzymes in 2018.

A subsequent paper on enzymatic synthesis of beta-lactams was published in the journal Science in May 2019.

It has been retracted because the results were not reproducible, and the authors found data missing from a lab notebook.

Reproduction is an essential part of validating scientific experiments. If an experiment is a success, one would expect to get the same results every time it was conducted.

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