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How Much Editorial Misconduct Goes Unreported? – Scholarly Kitchen (Phil Davis | June 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on October 20, 2018

COPE Case #18-03, “Editors and reviewers requiring authors to cite their own work”  reads like a political thriller:

Working alone late one night, a staffer stumbles upon a decision letter in which a handling editor instructs an author to cite some of his papers. Intrigued, the staffer digs deeper and finds a pattern of systematic abuse that involves a gang of crony reviewers willing to do the handling editor’s misdeeds and evidence of strong-arming authors who put up any resistance. The staffer brings the ream of evidence to the Editor-in-Chief, who goes to the editorial board. Confronted by questions to explain himself, the handling editor resigns out of haughty indignation. Case closed. Or is it?

The issue of editorial coercion is a topic that deserves coverage in professional development for early career researchers and higher degree research candidates (and probably new supervisors as well).

All COPE cases are public, however, the texts are carefully edited to preserve anonymity. COPE is an industry advisory group, not a court of law. The purpose of publicizing cases is to educate, not adjudicate. We can only hope that the summary of actions provides a clear path of action for future staffers and editors dealing with similar cases of misconduct. Still, it makes me wonder just how common is editorial misconduct and whether the vast majority of cases, like similar power-abuse misconduct, goes unreported.

A 2012 survey of social sciences authors published in the journal Science, reported that one-in-five respondents said they were coerced by journal editors to add more citations to papers published in their journal. Not surprisingly, lower-ranked faculty were more likely to acquiesce to this type of coercion. A follow-up study in PLOS ONE confirmed that the practice of requesting additional citations to the journal was prevelant across disciplines, although much more frequent in marketing, information systems, finance, and management than it was in math, physics, political science, and chemistry. In these studies, the researchers limit coercive citation to the journal itself, assuming that its purpose was to inflate the journal’s Impact Factor. But what if its purpose was also to inflate citations to the editor himself or to a cartel of other participating journals?

Read the rest of this discussion piece

Davis, P. (2018) How Much Editorial Misconduct Goes Unreported? The Scholarly Kitchen, 21 June.

The Rise of Peer Review: Melinda Baldwin on the History of Refereeing at Scientific Journals and Funding Bodies – Scholarly Kitchen (Robert Harington | September 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on October 17, 2018

I  was recently given the opportunity to read a fascinating paper by Melinda Baldwin, (Books Editor at Physics Today magazine, published by the American Institute of Physics), entitled “Scientific Autonomy, Public Accountability, and the Rise of “Peer Review” in the Cold War United States” (Isis, volume 109, number 3, September 2018). Melinda is an accomplished historian of science, with a special emphasis on the cultural and intellectual history of science and scientific communication. Not only is her writing infectiously entertaining, the story itself is new, or at least it is new to me. It turns out that peer reviewing in scientific journals is a relatively recent construct, first emerging in the nineteenth century and not seen as a central part of science until the late twentieth century.

A great piece reflecting on the history of peer review that nicely contextualises current frustrations and future directions. A worthy inclusion in ‘further reading’ lists when speaking about peer review.

Melinda paints a picture of constant change in peer review, which perhaps provides a lesson for us all. Maybe this should be obvious, but there is no status quo in academic publishing, and while we may feel our moment is more important than those that have gone before, or those ahead of us, expectations and models are fluid, be you author, reviewer, publisher, institution, or funder.
In this interview I ask Melinda to talk about her article, and provide some more personal views on peer review topics of the moment.

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(US) Mount Sinai multiple sclerosis researcher admits to misconduct – Retraction Watch (Ivan Oransky | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on October 14, 2018

A researcher who has received millions in funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and who runs a lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York has confessed to falsifying data in a 2014 paper.

Gareth John, who studies multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases, “has expressed remorse for his actions,” according to a report released last week from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity.

John falsified data in two different figures in a 2014 paper in Development, “Combinatorial actions of Tgfβ and Activin ligands promote oligodendrocyte development and CNS myelination,” according to the report. In one figure, a Western blot, he “removed the lower set of bands, reordered the remaining bands and used those bands to represent the actin control,” among other falsifications, and in another, he cut and pasted bands “onto a blank background and used those false bands to create a graph.”

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The Limits of Dual Use – Issues in Science & Technology (Tara Mahfoud, et al | September 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on October 12, 2018

Distinguishing between military and civilian applications of scientific research and technology development has become increasingly difficult. A more nuanced framework is needed to guide research.

Research and technologies designed to generate benefits for civilians that can also be used for military purposes are termed “dual use.” The concept of dual use frames and informs debates about how such research and technologies should be understood and regulated. But the emergence of neuroscience-based technologies, combined with the dissolution of any simple distinction between civilian and military domains, requires us to reconsider this binary concept.

Not only has neuroscience research contributed to the development and use of technology and weapons for national security, but a variety of factors have blurred the very issue of whether a technological application is military or civilian. These factors include the rise of asymmetric warfare, the erosion of clear differentiation between states of war abroad and defense against threats “at home,” and the use of military forces for homeland security. It is increasingly difficult to disentangle the relative contributions made by researchers undertaking basic studies in traditional universities from those made by researchers working in projects specifically organized or funded by military or defense sources. Amid such complexity, the binary world implied by “dual use” can often obscure rather than clarify which particular uses of science and technology are potentially problematic or objectionable.

To help in clarifying matters, we argue that policy makers and regulators need to identify and focus on specific harmful or undesirable uses in the following four domains: political, security, intelligence, and military (PSIM). We consider the ways that research justified in terms of socially constructive applications—in the European Human Brain Project, the US BRAIN initiative, and other brain projects and related areas of neuroscience—can also provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be applied in these four domains. If those who fund, develop, or regulate research and development (R&D) in neuroscience, neurotechnology, and neurorobotics fail to move away from the dual-use framework, they may be unable to govern its diffusion.

Mahfoud, Tara, Christine Aicardi, Saheli Datta, and Nikolas Rose. “The Limits of Dual Use.” Issues in Science and Technology 34, no. 4 (Summer 2018).

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