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Peter Ridd’s sacking pushes the limit of academic freedom – The Guardian (Gay Alcorn | June 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on July 20, 2018

James Cook University may have damaged its reputation with a heavy-handed approach to the academic with minority views on climate change and the reef

I hate to say it, but the sacking of professor Peter Ridd by James Cook University does raise issues of academic freedom. Not simple issues, and ones that can be refuted as the university is doing, but ones that matter nonetheless.

While we (Colin, Gary and Mark)  disagree with his position on the science and how he allegedly categorises the activists/commentators working in the area, we absolutely support the idea that academic freedom must extend to opinions we don’t agree with – otherwise the concept is rendered meaningless

I hate to say it because we know what this is really about. The cause of Ridd has been championed by those parts of the media and certain institutes – well, the Institute of Public Affairs – that have done all they humanly can to stop serious action in this country against climate change.

They have no interest in fair-minded coverage of the weight of scientific evidence, now overwhelming, that human action is causing global warming, and that urgent action is required globally to limit its dangerous impacts. Their interest is ideological, with an endearing lack of self-awareness in their charge that the “warmists” are the ideologues. They leap on the 3% or so of scientists who argue their colleagues have got it all wrong, and would risk everything on those odds.

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Alcorn, G. (2018) Peter Ridd’s sacking pushes the limit of academic freedom. The Guardian. 5 June.

China gets serious about research integrity – NatureIndex (Hepeng Jia | June)0

Posted by Admin in on July 11, 2018

The country’s highest executive body issues clear guidelines for dealing with scientific misconduct.

China has escalated efforts to police scientific integrity with new regulations coming from the highest echelons introducing potential criminal punishments for serious academic misconduct, such as fraud.

While the PRC might face larger issues around RI than Australia, some of its responses might be worth considering.

Government research agencies already have tough rules claiming a zero-tolerance policy against severe academic dishonesty, including the stipulation that scientists’ integrity records are checked when reviewing their grant applications, but sanctions are seldom enforced, scientists in the country say.
The regulations released on 30 May by the Communist Party of China and the State Council, the highest executive branch of government, have made it the direct responsibility of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to investigate, punish and regulate cases of misconduct in the natural sciences. In the social science, the same onus will be on the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

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“Ethical shades of gray:” 90% of researchers in new health field admit to questionable practices – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on July 9, 2018

It’s always interesting to know how many researchers in any given field engage in so-called questionable research practices that don’t rise to the level of out-and-out fraud: honorary authorship, citing articles they don’t read, choosing reference lists that would please editors or reviewers, for instance. And when the researchers work in a field with potential health implications, the findings are even more compelling. Lauren Maggio and Anthony R. Artino, Jr. from the Uniformed Services University spoke to us recently about the findings from their survey (posted in bioarXiv) of health professions education researchers, a relatively new field that studies how future health professionals are trained.

This interview reflects on survey data that will be quite sobering for research office staff, health research leaders and publishers/editors. We have added a trove of related news, commentaries and other resource items.

Retraction Watch: You note that 90% of the people who volunteered to complete the survey admitted to at least one questionable research practice. Was that surprising?

Lauren Maggio and Anthony R. Artino, Jr.: Yes, we were quite surprised! We had an idea that many of these practices were happening, but we didn’t know the extent of the problem and weren’t sure if respondents would be honest about their practices. For example, one of our survey respondents said he was happy we were doing the survey, but he cautioned that respondents would not admit to these practices, even if they were doing them. It seems he was wrong, and we suspect that he too would be quite surprised by our findings.

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The pros and cons of publishing peer reviews – Crosstalk (Deborah Sweet | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on July 4, 2018

At the ASAPBio/HHMI meeting on peer review in February, the topic of “open peer review” came up several times, and it’s been aired recently on social media as well. We’ve been mulling this subject at Cell Press for a while now too, and we’d like add our thoughts to the overall discussion.

This thought-provoking piece discusses open peer review (e.g. publishing reviews) and it raises some considerations that may not have occurred to you. One of the pros that isn’t discussed is that it would more readily expose illegitimate/predatory/vanity publishers.

Openness in peer review can take various forms, and some people at the ASAPBio/HHMI meeting argued strongly that all peer review should take place entirely in the open, with names attached, at all times. However, given the various legitimate concerns about requiring everyone to review non-anonymously, most people took a more pragmatic view by focusing on the idea of journals posting the reviews they obtain for published papers, retaining reviewer anonymity, in a way that some journals already do. This is the type of approach that we have also been discussing.
We can see arguments in favor of publishing reviews but also a number of caveats and questions that give us pause. Some of these points have already come up in other coverage about the meeting, posts about the overall topic, and even pilots, but for completeness we are including them here as well, as they have formed part of our discussion. Some are also fairly clear, while others are more hypothetical, but we think they all merit consideration and airing, along with broader points related to defining the underlying goal.

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