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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

A real-life Lord of the Flies: the troubling legacy of the Robbers Cave experiment – The Guardian (David Shariatmadari | April 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 17, 2018

In the early 1950s, the psychologist Muzafer Sherif brought together a group of boys at a US summer camp – and tried to make them fight each other. Does his work teach us anything about our age of resurgent tribalism?
……Read an extract from The Lost Boys

July 1953: late one evening in the woods outside Middle Grove, New York state, three men are having a furious argument. One of them, drunk, draws back his fist, ready to smash it into his opponent’s face. Seeing what is about to happen, the third grabs a block of wood from a nearby pile. “Dr Sherif! If you do it, I’m gonna hit you,” he shouts.

A useful example of the degree to which such work not only fails modern ethical standards, its results were cherry-picked and stage managed. We note again our caution about using such cases to justify current human research ethics/research integrity arrangements. Also see James Kehoe recent post.

The man with the raised fist isn’t just anybody. He is one of the world’s foremost social psychologists, Muzafer Sherif. The two others are his research assistants. Sherif is angry because the experiment he has spent months preparing for has just fallen apart.
Born in the summer of 1905 and raised in İzmir province, Turkey, during the dying days of the Ottoman empire, Sherif won a place at Harvard to study psychology. But he found himself frustrated by the narrowness of the discipline, which mainly involved tedious observation of lab rats. He was drawn instead to the emerging field of social psychology, which looks at the way human behaviour is influenced by others. In particular, he became obsessed by group dynamics: how individuals band together to form cohesive units and how these units can find themselves at each other’s throats.

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Been scooped? A discussion on data stewardship – Musings on Quantitative Palaeoecology (Richard Telford | February 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 17, 2018

At Climate of the Past, there is a pre-print by Darrell Kaufman and others on the data stewardship policies adopted by the PAGES 2k special issue.

This is perhaps an early reaction to a likely trend as more bodies encourage researcher to adopt an ‘open science’ approach to their work.

Abstract. Data stewardship is an essential element of the publication process. Knowing how to enact generally described data policies can be difficult, however. Examples are needed to model the implementation of open-data polices in actual studies. Here we explain the procedure used to attain a high and consistent level of data stewardship across a special issue of the journal, Climate of the Past. We discuss the challenges related to (1) determining which data are essential for public archival, (2) using previously published data, and (3) understanding how to cite data. We anticipate that open-data sharing in paleo sciences will accelerate as the advantages become more evident and the practice becomes a standard part of publication.

The policy was closely aligned to the regular Climate of the Past policies (which are among the better policies in palaeo journals), but with more “must”. The discussion/review is ongoing, with a co-editor-in-chief encouraging further contributions to the discussion.

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Responsible Conduct of Research & Scholarly Activity (Guidance: University of New Hampshire | April 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 11, 2018


“Integrity in research is essential for maintaining scientific excellence and for keeping the public’s trust. Integrity characterizes both individual researchers and the institutions in which they work….For a scientist, integrity embodies above all the individual’s commitment to intellectual honesty and personal responsibility….For an institution, it is a commitment to creating an environment that promotes responsible conduct by embracing standards of excellence, trustworthiness, and lawfulness….”

~ (Institute of Medicine, Integrity in Scientific Research, 2002, p. 4)

This Research Guide provides access to a host of resources on responsible conduct of research and scholarly activity (RCR) topics listed in the menu on the lefthand side of the page, and below in the tabbed pages. For a general overview of RCR, read David Resnik’s essay, What is Ethics in Research & Why is it Important?

Integrity is the essence of everything successful ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

Access the website

Make reviews public, says peer review expert – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | November 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 9, 2018

After more than 30 years working with scholarly journals, Irene Hameshas some thoughts on how to improve peer review. She even wrote a book about it. As the first recipient of the Publons Sentinel Award, Hames spoke to us about the most pressing issues she believes are facing the peer review system — and what should be done about them.

Retraction Watch: At a recent event held as part of this year’s Peer Review Week, you suggested that journals publish their reviews, along with the final paper. Why?

Irene Hames: I don’t think that saying something is ‘peer reviewed’ can any longer be considered a badge of quality or rigour. The quality of peer review varies enormously, ranging from excellent through poor/inadequate to non-existent. But if reviewers’ reports were routinely published alongside articles – ideally with the authors’ responses and editorial decision correspondence – this would provide not only information on the standards of peer review and editorial handling, but also insight into why the decision to publish has been made, the strengths and weaknesses of the work, whether readers should bear reservations in mind, and so on. As I’ve said before, I can’t understand why this can’t become the norm. I haven’t heard any reasons why it shouldn’t, and I’d love the Retraction Watch audience to make suggestions in the comments here. I’m not advocating that the reviewers’ names should appear – I think that’s a decision that should be left to journals and their communities.

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