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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The Repetition Compulsion – Inside Higher Ed (Scott McLemee | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 16, 2020

Scott McLemee explores various scholars’ rationales for self-plagiarism.

Last spring the American Society for Engineering Education’s magazine Prism ran an opinion piece titled “Plagiarism Is Not a Victimless Crime” by Adrian Bejan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University. It ended with an admonishment to scholarly editors and publishers: “Exposing plagiarists without implementing an unforgiving policy (punishment) that terminates the practice is to do nothing.” So far, so punitive. But in an interesting detour, Bejan threw down the gauntlet at publishers who “playact as enemies of plagiarism” by accusing authors of “self-plagiarism” when they recycle portions of their own work.

“The term is nonsense,” Bejan wrote. “One does not steal from oneself; one owns what one creates. Accusing the creative author of self-plagiarism is like accusing Picasso, Matisse and Brancusi of thievery because they sold many pieces of art that looked like their own art from a few years back.” The first part of his complaint — what we might call the argument from oxymoronicism — is sure to be raised whenever the concept of self-plagiarism comes up.

Less familiar, perhaps, is the notion of self-copying as one of the privileges of creativity. Bejan may be responding to an essay by David Goldblatt called “Self-Plagiarism” (the top JSTOR search result on the topic by relevance) that appeared in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism in 1984. Goldblatt’s understanding of originality is stringent, almost punishing. Artists who “ride on the coattails of their previous successes” — who “mak[e] no aesthetic progress” and resort to “insignificantly repeating features that have been created at some other time, even if those features were created by the artist him or herself” — are guilty of “enjoying the status of ‘artist’ when that status has expired.” Aesthetic progress, it seems, is a jealous god, and vengeful in his wrath. Bejan’s remarks on Picasso et al. seem a lot more generous.

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Opinion: Exorcising Ghostwriting from Peer Review – TheScientist (James L. Sherley | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 15, 2020

Training young scientists to review submitted manuscripts should be an academic exercise, not a facet of professional scientific publishing.

On November 4, 2019, The Scientist ran a revealing Q&A highlighting a recent survey published in eLife. Responses from early career researchers (ECRs) and other scientists drew attention to a widespread, unethical practice to which academic scientists have too long resigned themselves—peer review ghostwriting (8:e48425, 2019).

A member of the AHRECS team has the experience of being told, as an RA, to do this.  We won’t identify who did the asking, but they should be ashamed of themselves.

As defined in that paper, peer review ghostwriting occurs when scientists hand over manuscripts that they have agreed to review for journal editors to graduate students or postdocs in their research groups. The involvement of the junior scientists is not typically disclosed to the journal, so editors work under the impression that the invited reviewer developed and wrote the resulting manuscript review themselves.

Survey results reported in the eLife paper provided the first quantitative evidence for the prevalence of this practice, as well as for the practice the study authors refer to as co-reviewing. In a strict sense, co-reviewing happens when a trainee is involved in developing and writing the review and their contribution is disclosed to journal editors. Some consider this transparent form of collaborative peer review a valuable part of scientific training, and the eLife study authors even argue that journals should codify co-review. But in my experience, the involvement of co-reviewers is sometimes not disclosed to the journals, just as is the case with ghostwriters.

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Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (Guidelines | 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on February 13, 2020

The earliest codes of ethics in Estonia were formulated during the first period of independence (1918-1940). For instance, the first code of ethics for veterinarians was approved by the Council of the Chamber of Veterinarians on 6 March 1938. The Union of Estonian Veterinarians has now adopted a new Code of Ethics (available in Estonian only), stating general principles, veterinarians’ responsibilities toward the client, rules of professional conduct and collegial relationships. Several codes of ethics and mission statements can be found in various fields, regulating professional conduct and ethical rules in professional unions, non-governmental organisations, and private corporations. According to The Handbook of Codes of Conduct (2007), published by the Tartu University Centre for Ethics, there were approximately 90 codes of conduct in different fields in 2007.

An essential resource if your institution conducts research in Estonia.

For example, there are codes of ethics (available in Estonian only) for teachers, doctors, psychologists, engineers, and so on. The Estonian Medical Association has formulated the Estonian Code of Medical Ethics which states general principles, doctors’ responsibilities toward patients and in practice, and principles in collegial relationships. TheUnion of Estonian Psychologists has articulated Union of Estonian Psychologists for its members. A Code of Conduct for members of the Estonian Association of Engineers was approved in 1996 by its General Assembly.

The Code of Ethics of Estonian Scientists was approved in 2002 by the General Assembly of the Estonian Academy of Sciences.

Access the Codes’ web site

‘Avalanche’ of spider-paper retractions shakes behavioural-ecology community – Nature (Giuliana Viglione | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 12, 2020

Allegations of fabricated data have prompted a university investigation and some soul-searching.

A complex web is unravelling in the field of spider research. On 5 February, McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, confirmed that it was investigating allegations that behavioural ecologist Jonathan Pruitt fabricated data in at least 17 papers on which he was a co-author.

An earlier report of a single retraction leads to an avalanche and research misconduct investigations.

Since concerns about his work became public in late January, scientists have rushed to uncover the extent of questionable data in Pruitt’s studies. Publishers are now trying to keep up with requests for retractions and investigations. According to a publicly available spreadsheet maintained by Daniel Bolnick, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, seven papers have been retracted or are in the process of being retracted; five further retractions have been requested by Pruitt’s co-authors; and researchers have flagged at least five more studies as containing possible data anomalies.

Pruitt, who is reportedly doing field research in Australia and the South Pacific, told Science last week that he had not fabricated or manipulated data in any way. He did not respond to multiple requests from Nature for comment on the mounting list of retractions, or the accusation that he fabricated data.

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