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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

What should you do if a paper you’ve cited is later retracted? – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | November 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on December 13, 2016

We all know that researchers continue to cite papers long after they’ve been retracted, posing concerns for the integrity of the literature. But what should you do if one of the papers you’ve cited gets retracted after you’ve already cited it?

We posed this question to some members of the board of directors of our parent non-profit organization, who offered up some valuable advice based on many years of experience working at journals and organizations such as the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

The first step: Determine whether the fact a reference has been retracted has any impact on the conclusions of your own paper. From Elizabeth Wager, publications consultant, Sideview; former chair, COPE:

Read the rest of this discussion piece

Avoiding Plagiarism, Self-plagiarism, and Other Questionable Writing Practices: A Guide to Ethical Writing (US Office of Research Integrity | February 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on December 9, 2016

The purpose of this module is to help students, as well as professionals, identify and prevent questionable practices and to develop an awareness of ethical writing. This guide was written by Miguel Roig, PhD, from St. Johns University with funding from ORI.

This module was originally created in 2003 and revised in 2006 and 2015.

* Note: Self-plagiarism is NOT considered research misconduct in accordance to 42 CFR 93. 

Read the rest of this guidance material

500+ Resources – Part Two of Nominations of best resources0

Posted by Admin in on December 8, 2016

This second nomination of favourite resources is from Associate Professor Lisa Wynn, Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. Next week we’re going to be sharing some more nominations of people’s nomination of favourite resources? Got your own favourite? Drop us a line to with your suggestion.

Beall’s list of predatory publishers: Web site | Resource Library entry – As the AHRECs site notes, “the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research direct that the results of research should only be reported once…. This underlines the importance of the selection of a quality publisher/avenue to ensure the maximum impact for your work.” In other words, if you can only publish your data once, you need to make sure that you’re publishing in the right place! Unfortunately, I’ve seen younger scholars make naive decisions about publishers that have been disastrous for their careers. For example, one recent graduate from another university proudly told me that a publishing house had sought out him to publish his completely unrevised PhD thesis! Skeptical (because if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is), I checked on Beall’s list and found that it was one of those publishing houses that publish anything, without peer review, publishing on demand at extraordinarily high prices. The outcome is a book that few will ever purchase, a publisher that looks bad on his CV, and this naive student signed over the copyright to this publisher, so now he can’t publish the content of his rich PhD thesis anywhere else. Now I make a practice of warning all my PhD students to check the Beall’s list before they make any publishing decisions.

The University of New Hampshire’s 5 case studies in research ethics: Web site | Resource Library Entry –  Each is a short (~2 pages) summary of a famous recent case of research misconduct. These would be good to teach with; there’s enough ambiguity in each case to lend itself to lively debate, and they’re all real cases featured in news headlines, not hypothetical scenarios.

The In The News section features a lot of interesting links, including a thoughtful WIRED article by Zoltan Boka (web site | Resource Library entry) about Facebook’s attempt to institute its own in-house ethics committee to review research, after the backlash of negative publicity following revelations that Facebook had manipulated its news feed algorithms to study what would happen when people received more positive or negative news items — without getting consent from any of its “research participants” or even informing them that they were being manipulated and studied. As Boka points out, having an entirely in-house ethics committee that are all Facebook employees means its committee will never be impartial and is susceptible to pressures from above to approve research projects that benefit Facebook.

Interventions to prevent misconduct and promote integrity in research and publication (Papers: Ana Marusic, et al | 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on December 7, 2016



Improper practices and unprofessional conduct in clinical research have been shown to waste a significant portion of healthcare funds and harm public health.


Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of educational or policy interventions in research integrity or responsible conduct of research on the behaviour and attitudes of researchers in health and other research areas.

Search methods

We searched the CENTRAL, MEDLINE, LILACS and CINAHL health research bibliographical databases, as well as the Academic Search Complete, AGRICOLA, GeoRef, PsycINFO, ERIC, SCOPUS and Web of Science databases. We performed the last search on 15 April 2015 and the search was limited to articles published between 1990 and 2014, inclusive. We also searched conference proceedings and abstracts from research integrity conferences and specialized websites. We handsearched 14 journals that regularly publish research integrity research.

Selection criteria

We included studies that measured the effects of one or more interventions, i.e. any direct or indirect procedure that may have an impact on research integrity and responsible conduct of research in its broadest sense, where participants were any stakeholders in research and publication processes, from students to policy makers. We included randomized and non-randomized controlled trials, such as controlled before-and-after studies, with comparisons of outcomes in the intervention versus non-intervention group or before versus after the intervention. Studies without a control group were not included in the review.

Data collection and analysis

We used the standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane. To assess the risk of bias in non-randomized studies, we used a modified Cochrane tool, in which we used four out of six original domains (blinding, incomplete outcome data, selective outcome reporting, other sources of bias) and two additional domains (comparability of groups and confounding factors). We categorized our primary outcome into the following levels: 1) organizational change attributable to intervention, 2) behavioural change, 3) acquisition of knowledge/skills and 4) modification of attitudes/perceptions. The secondary outcome was participants’ reaction to the intervention.

Main results

Thirty-one studies involving 9571 participants, described in 33 articles, met the inclusion criteria. All were published in English. Fifteen studies were randomized controlled trials, nine were controlled before-and-after studies, four were non-equivalent controlled studies with a historical control, one was a non-equivalent controlled study with a post-test only and two were non-equivalent controlled studies with pre- and post-test findings for the intervention group and post-test for the control group. Twenty-one studies assessed the effects of interventions related to plagiarism and 10 studies assessed interventions in research integrity/ethics. Participants included undergraduates, postgraduates and academics from a range of research disciplines and countries, and the studies assessed different types of outcomes.

We judged most of the included randomized controlled trials to have a high risk of bias in at least one of the assessed domains, and in the case of non-randomized trials there were no attempts to alleviate the potential biases inherent in the non-randomized designs.

We identified a range of interventions aimed at reducing research misconduct. Most interventions involved some kind of training, but methods and content varied greatly and included face-to-face and online lectures, interactive online modules, discussion groups, homework and practical exercises. Most studies did not use standardized or validated outcome measures and it was impossible to synthesize findings from studies with such diverse interventions, outcomes and participants. Overall, there is very low quality evidence that various methods of training in research integrity had some effects on participants’ attitudes to ethical issues but minimal (or short-lived) effects on their knowledge. Training about plagiarism and paraphrasing had varying effects on participants’ attitudes towards plagiarism and their confidence in avoiding it, but training that included practical exercises appeared to be more effective. Training on plagiarism had inconsistent effects on participants’ knowledge about and ability to recognize plagiarism. Active training, particularly if it involved practical exercises or use of text-matching software, generally decreased the occurrence of plagiarism although results were not consistent. The design of a journal’s author contribution form affected the truthfulness of information supplied about individuals’ contributions and the proportion of listed contributors who met authorship criteria. We identified no studies testing interventions for outcomes at the organizational level. The numbers of events and the magnitude of intervention effects were generally small, so the evidence is likely to be imprecise. No adverse effects were reported.

Authors’ conclusions

The evidence base relating to interventions to improve research integrity is incomplete and the studies that have been done are heterogeneous, inappropriate for meta-analyses and their applicability to other settings and population is uncertain. Many studies had a high risk of bias because of the choice of study design and interventions were often inadequately reported. Even when randomized designs were used, findings were difficult to generalize. Due to the very low quality of evidence, the effects of training in responsible conduct of research on reducing research misconduct are uncertain. Low quality evidence indicates that training about plagiarism, especially if it involves practical exercises and use of text-matching software, may reduce the occurrence of plagiarism.

Marusic A, Wager E, Utrobicic A, Rothstein HR, Sambunjak D (2016) Interventions to prevent misconduct and promote integrity in research and publication. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Number 4 DOI: 10.1002/14651858.MR000038.pub2