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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Establishing Rules for Ethicists and Ethics Organizations in Academic Publishing to Avoid Conflicts of Interest, Favoritism, Cronyism and Nepotism (Papers: Dr. János Tóth, et al | May 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on June 19, 2019
 

Abstract: A proliferation of publication venues, scholarly journals, use of social media to disseminate knowledge and research results, scientific information, increased international scientific collaboration, a move towards open knowledge and data sharing, recent scandals such as journal editors’ coercive citations, fake peer review, peer review rings, data fabrication, research spin, and retraction of articles, several of the latter within the emergence of a post publication peer review movement, are some of the many reasons why publishing ethics are constantly evolving. These challenges have led to the birth of an increasing number of guidelines and recommendations being issued by multiple organizations and committees around the world in light of the recognized need to salvage peer review, and in an attempt to restore eroding trust in science, scientists and their publications. The principal objective of these guidelines and recommendations is supposedly to provide guidance for editors, reviewers and authors to conduct honest and ethical research and publishing practices, including responsible authorship and editorship, conflict of interest management, maintaining the confidentiality of peer review, and other ethical issues that arise in conducting and reporting research. Despite the fact that scholarly publishing is an international enterprise with global impact, current guidelines and recommendations appear to fall very short on imposing any obligations on their parent members, i.e., committee members who issue guidelines and recommend solutions for ethical dilemmas especially when such organizations are dependent on commercial publishers who may be paying members. Obviously, financial incentives indicate that ethical organizations or ethicists are not in a power position compared to editors or publishers. Imbalanced guidelines risk that hidden conflicts of interest, cronyism, or nepotism may corrupt the decision-making process or the ethical hierarchy that has been put into place to safe-guard research and publishing ethics. Therefore, the ethics gate-keepers to the integrity of scholarly publishing should also be carefully scrutinized, and strict ethical guidelines have to be imposed on them as equally as their rules are imposed on global academia to avoid the risk of further corrupting the scientific process as a result of the absence of strong exterior regulation or oversight. This theoretical paper highlights signs of favoritism and cronyism in ethics. It also offers proposals for rules (limitations and consequences) to avoid them in science publishing. Our guidelines should be used by academics in the position of authors or editors who may sense, perceive or detect abuses of power among ethicists.

Keywords: organization ethics; ethical dilemmas; corruption; conflict of interest

Teixeira da Silva, J. A., Katavić, V., Dobránszki, J., Al-Khatib, A. and Bornemann-Cimenti, Hel (2019) Establishing Rules for Ethicists and Ethics Organizations in Academic Publishing to Avoid Conflicts of Interest, Favoritism, Cronyism and Nepotism. KOME: An International Journal of Pure Communication Inquiry. ISSN 2063-7330
Publisher (Open Access): http://komejournal.com/files/KOME_MS_rulesethicists.pdf
ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333311739_Establishing_Rules_for_Ethicists_and_Ethics…

SPEECH: Actions to advance research integrity – Dr Alan Finkel AO (6th World Conference on Research Integrity | June 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on June 17, 2019
 

Looking around the room today, I’m reminded that research truly is a human pursuit: it thrives on face-to-face connections.

It’s easy to forget that, when you’re a student, and it’s late at night, and you’re the last person left in the lab – again.

So, every so often, it’s worth pausing to remember just how many people are out there, working hard, gathering data – just like you.

Worldwide, there are more than eight million researchers.

Every year, we produce well over a quarter of a million new PhDs.

China alone has added more than a million people to its research workforce since 2011.

Not all of these researchers will work in academia – but those who do are highly productive.

They publish in the order of four million academic journal articles every year, spread across more than 40,000 journals.

Read the rest of this speech

How Do You Publish the Work of a Scientific Villain? – WIRED (Megan Molteni | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 11, 2019
 

HOW DO YOU handle the data of a scientist who violates all the norms of his field? Who breaches the trust of a community that spans the entire globe? Who shows a casual disregard for the fate of the whole human species?

On the one hand, you might want to learn from such a person’s work; to have a full and open dissection of everything that went wrong. Because, spoiler, there was a lot that went wrong in the case in question. But rewarding such “abhorrent” behavior, as one scientist put it, with a publication—the currency of the scientific world—would send a message that ethical rules only exist to be broken.

This is the precarious situation in which we find ourselves today, as scientists hash out the next chapter of the human gene-editing scandal that erupted two weeks ago, when the Chinese scientist He Jiankui revealed that for the last two years he has been working in secret to produce the world’s first Crispr-edited babies. Scientists denounced the work with near-unanimous condemnation, citing its technical failures as well as its deep breaches of ethical (and possibly legal) lines. What’s much less certain is what should happen to the work, now that it’s been done.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

“Always read the small print”: a case study of commercial research funding, disclosure and agreements with Coca-Cola (Papers: Sarah Steele| May 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on May 27, 2019
 

Abstract
Concerns about conflicts of interest in commercially funded research have generated increasing disclosure requirements, but are these enough to assess influence? Using the Coca-Cola Company as an example, we explore its research agreements to understand influence. Freedom of Information requests identified 87,013 pages of documents, including five agreements between Coca-Cola and public institutions in the United States, and Canada. We assess whether they allowed Coca-Cola to exercise control or influence. Provisions gave Coca-Cola the right to review research in advance of publication as well as control over (1) study data, (2) disclosure of results and (3) acknowledgement of Coca-Cola funding. Some agreements specified that Coca-Cola has the ultimate decision about any publication of peer-reviewed papers prior to its approval of the researchers’ final report. If so desired, Coca-Cola can thus prevent publication of unfavourable research, but we found no evidence of this to date in the emails we received. The documents also reveal researchers can negotiate with funders successfully to remove restrictive clauses on their research. We recommend journals supplement funding disclosures and conflict-of-interest statements by requiring authors to attach funder agreements.

Keywords
Coca-Cola Research funding Transparency Industry funding Conflicts of interest

Steele, S., Ruski, G,. McKee, M. & Stuckler, D. (2019). “Always read the small print”: a case study of commercial research funding, disclosure and agreements with Coca-Cola. Journal of Public Health Policy.
Publisher (Open Access): https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057%2Fs41271-019-00170-9

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