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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Publish AND perish: how the commodification of scientific publishing is undermining both science and the public good – Learning for Sustainability (Arjen Wals | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 19, 2018
 

“Everybody is writing, nobody is reading, everybody is writing for nobody.”

Academics are spending hundreds of hours a year, getting their work published, in peer-reviewed journals, providing free labor to commercial publishing companies.

The pressure to ‘produce’ and grow is huge, both in academia and in the publishing industry; this undermines quality and the university’s ability to serve the public good and, indeed, public trust in science.

Open access journal Sustainability publishes over 4000 contributions in its current Volume 10 – where most contributors will have to pay 1400 US Dollars* to have their work published. Its publisher MDPI has close to 200 journals working in a similar vein.’

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Oh, What A Tangled Web! Citation Network Underscores Editorial Conflicts of Interest – Scholarly Kitchen (Phil Davis | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 18, 2018
 

The separation of powers is as important in academic publishing as it is in government.

If readers are to trust the integrity of the editorial and peer review process, editors need to be insulated from the business of publishing, which often means keeping them away from their colleagues in marketing, sales, and advertising.

So important is the separation of powers that some publishers physically separate editorial offices from business operations and place them in different cities. If they can’t separate these divisions physically, they will often develop strong internal policies to minimize influence. For example, PLOS does not disclose to the editor whether a submitting author has applied for article processing fee assistance when reviewing a manuscript.

Similarly, many publishers have explicit rules that prevent editors from handling their own paper or the papers of authors very closely associated with them. None of these separations of roles and powers guarantee that the decision to publish is entirely free of bias, but they do demonstrate a seriousness in building an institution, a process, and a product that can be trusted.

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Funder open access platforms – a welcome innovation? – LSE Impact Blog (Tony Ross-Hellauer, et al | July 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 15, 2018
 

Funding organisations commissioning their own open access publishing platforms is a relatively recent development in the OA environment, with the European Commission following the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation in financing such an initiative. But in what ways, for better or worse, do these new platforms disrupt or complement the scholarly communications landscape? Tony Ross-Hellauer, Birgit Schmidt and Bianca Kramer examine the ethical, organisational, and economic strengths and weaknesses of funder OA platforms to scope the opportunities and threats they present in the transition to OA. While they may help to increase OA uptake, control costs, and lower the administrative burden on researchers, possible unintended consequences include conflicts of interest, difficulties of scale, or potential vendor lock-in.

The link here to research integrity may not be obvious, but we are fans of open access, believe publically funded research should be accessible to the public not locked behind a paywall and the Plan S talk is a bit of hot topic globally in academia (albeit less so than CRISPR and the birth of modified babies).

In the age of open access (OA), research funding organisations have taken a more active interest in academic publishing. They are increasingly mandating their beneficiaries to publish OA, supporting infrastructures and directly funding publishing (via article processing charges).
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A step-change in this engagement is the recent phenomenon of OA publishing platforms commissioned by funding organisations. Examples include those of the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation, as well as recently announced initiatives from public funders like the Irish Health Research Board and the European Commission. As the number of such platforms increases, it becomes critical to assess in which ways, for better or worse, this emergent phenomenon complements or disrupts the scholarly communication landscape.

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Recognizing Contributions and Giving Credit – EOS Editors’ Vox (Brooks Hanson and Susan Webb | August 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on December 6, 2018
 

AGU is working with other leading publishers to implement common standards for authorship and recognize and value specific contributions across cultures.

Problematic practices

Authorship standards in scholarly publishing can vary across disciplines. For example, in many biology papers, the last author is traditionally assumed to be the one that has organized and led the research project. In contrast, in the physical sciences, including the Earth and space sciences, the last author is considered to have contributed the least, unless the list is alphabetical. Readers are simply expected to know these distinctions.

Authorship practices are also evolving as research papers become more complex, bringing together multiple techniques and data sets, interdisciplinary approaches, international teams, and ever-longer lists of co-authors. Authors are expected to navigate the conventions and expectations of different disciplines.

Authorship issues are also at the core of many of the ethical and other difficult issues that publishers see. One problem is including honorary authors (Zen, 1988, p. 202). Another is ghost authors, who are often from industry partners or services and were involved in framing interpretations but are not recognized. This hides relevant information about influence or conflict of interest from readers. Finally, legitimate authors may be omitted because of perceived mores around funding and collaboration, or for other reasons.

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Hanson, B., and S. Webb (2018), Recognizing contributions and giving credit, Eos, 99, https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EO104827. Published on 27 August 2018.

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