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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Journal Publishes Concern About Study Using Forced Organ Donation – Medscape (Diana Swift | June 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on July 21, 2019
 

The Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN) recently issued an “Expression of Concern” regarding a 2008 article on renal allograft recipients written by Chinese researchers.

The Expression of Concern stems from an Australian report published online in February in BMJ Open, which urged the repudiation by English-language journals of more than 445 studies involving 85,477 organ transplants done in China. The reason? Many of the organs used were likely forcibly harvested from Chinese prisoners of conscience, such as practitioners of Falun Gong, Uyghurs, Tibetans, and underground Christians.

“We reached out for clarification of the organ source to the senior authors, but one was deceased and the other had left the institution where the research was done,” said CJASN Editor-in-Chief Rajnish Mehrotra, MD, MBBS, a professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles.

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On the use of blockchain-based mechanisms to tackle academic misconduct (Vijay Mohan | June 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on July 18, 2019
 

Highlights

  • There exists a Prisoners’ Dilemma in academia, where researchers engage in misconduct in equilibrium.
  • Conventional “centralized” solutions under the current system may not work.
  • New advances in distributed ledger technology, like blockchain, provide a decentralized alternative.
  • The incentive structures in academia may necessitate a solution involving a permissioned blockchain.
  • Open Science is necessary to fight misconduct.

Abstract
Current incentives for publishing in academic journals result in a “winner-take-all” contest-like situation, with significant benefits for publishing research in quality journals. At the same time, empirically, we observe a greater incidence of research misconduct. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the nature and extent of the misconduct problem, to show why it may persist in the absence of conscious remedial action, and to discuss solutions that help lower the likelihood of spurious research escaping undetected. A simple model is constructed to emphasize that there exists the potential for a Prisoners’ Dilemma in academia, where scholars engage in misconduct at equilibrium (the Academic Dilemma). The paper then examines why conventional “centralized” regulatory solutions under the current system are not likely to succeed in resolving the problem, analyzes the properties of a decentralized solution utilizing blockchains, and argues that once incentive structures in academia are factored in, a permissioned blockchain may emerge as an effective middle-ground solution for mitigating scientific misconduct. In doing so, the paper highlights the importance of new technologies and recent advancements in Open Science for battling misconduct, and takes stock of the evolving nature of academic publishing.

Keywords
Academic misconduct, Prisoners’ dilemma, Blockchain, Open science, Decentralized cooperation

Mohan, V. (2019) On the use of blockchain-based mechanisms to tackle academic misconduct. Research Policy. 48(9), November 2019, 103805
Publisher: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0048733319301258

Knowledge and attitudes among life scientists towards reproducibility within journal articles (Papers: Evanthia Kaimaklioti Samota and Robert P. Davey | June 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on July 16, 2019
 

Abstract

We constructed a survey to understand how authors and scientists view the issues around reproducibility, and how solutions such as interactive figures could enable the reproducibility of experiments from within a research article. This manuscript reports the results of this survey on the views of 251 researchers, including authors who have published in eLIFE Sciences, and those who work at the Norwich Biosciences Institutes (NBI). The survey also outlines to what extent researchers are occupied with reproducing experiments themselves and what are their desirable features of an interactive figure. Respondents considered various features for an interactive figure within a research article that would allow for them to better understand and reproduce in situ the experiment presented in the figure. Respondents said that the most important element that would enable the better reproducibility of published research would be that authors describe methods and analyses in detail. The respondents believe that having interactive figures in published papers is a beneficial element. Whilst interactive figures are potential solutions for demonstrating technical reproducibility, we find that there are equally pressing cultural demands on researchers that need to be addressed to achieve greater success in reproducibility in the life sciences.

Samota, E. K. and R. P. Davey (2019). Knowledge and attitudes among life scientists towards reproducibility within journal articles. bioRxiv: 581033. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/581033
Publisher: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/581033v2
This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed

Tell the World – Exposing how China is creating the world’s largest prison – ABC Four Corners (July 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on July 16, 2019
 

On 15th July, ABC 4Corners ran a documentary examining develop the use of AI to profile and track activities non-Han populations in China. One Australian commentator argued that, in providing technical assistance, Australian universities were being ‘complicit in the human rights abuses’ (Assoc Prof James Leibold, La Trobe University). UTS told 4Corners that it was reviewing its relationships with a Chinese state-owned military tech company while Curtin is reviewing its research approval procedures.

Other universities may want to consider the mechanisms that they have that allow them to explore the ethics of the end use of technology that they develop and the degree to which it might be intended for or repurposed for the use of state security or military purposes. The biomedical literature has explored the dangers of dual use, but the 4Corners investigation pointed to problems that are much easier to anticipate, in this case work contracted directly with Australian university partners by Chinese state enterprises with military connections.

ASSOC PROF. JAMES LEIBOLD, ethnic policy in China, La Trobe University: I think… universities here in Australia that have connections with any Party State company, particularly in the military or security sector, needs to end those contracts, and to pull out of those collaborative arrangement. I mean, essentially by doing that, we’re being complicit in the human rights abuses that are occurring in Xinjiang and in China more widely.

EXCERPT FROM THE ITEM

“People started to literally disappear, communities were being emptied of adult men and women.” China researcher

It’s a remote corner of the world, but what is taking place there is nothing short of breathtaking.

“My older brother, younger brothers and two younger sisters, five siblings were all taken by… masked police. Heavily armed Special Forces police raided their home and taken (sic) them by covering their face and shackling them in front of the kids.” Australian Uyghur

Xinjiang province is a vast area of deserts and mountains where the ancient Silk Road once ran. Today its Uyghur population is being systematically rounded up with estimates of as many as a million citizens being held in detention.

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(Includes audio and transcript)

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