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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Is research integrity training a waste of time? – Nature (Gemma Conroy | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 24, 2020

Building good research practices begins before entering the lab.

More training and clear guidelines are favoured as fixes for bad research practices, but a new study suggests that these efforts are wasted if researchers are inherently dishonest.

A well-balanced view that articulates that good behaviour is bred early and can’t rely on compliance training too late in the trajectory of researcher training. There is value in professional development focussed on resourcing practice and discussing missteps+traps, but we shouldn’t deceive ourselves about their transformative powers.  Our focus must be on research practice and rewarding good practice, not volume.

The study published in BMC Medical Ethics revealed that childhood education and personality traits have a greater influence on how researchers conduct their work than formal training in research integrity.

The authors write that while it is possible to teach professional scientists the rules of rigorous research, “it might be far too late to imbue them with integrity that they do not already have.”

Institutions around the world are grappling with how to best tackle the problem of research misconduct.

But even after two decades of mandated training in responsible conduct for researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation in the US, “the evidence on effectiveness of these trainings in changing behavior of researchers remains inconsistent and weak”, according to the paper.

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(US) US biomedical agency has investigated hundreds claims of inappropriate conduct this year – Nature (Nidhi Subbaraman | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on February 22, 2020

The director of the US National Institutes of Health says the agency will begin revising its policies on harassment next year.

Nearly 40% of women trainees polled by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) between January and March 2019 reported being sexually harassed at work.

NIH is to be commended for this plan.  We need other funding bodies and institutions to make similar moves.  Sexual harassment in research is unacceptable, should be considered research misconduct and we shouldn’t be lauding the achievements of harassers.

Those are the results of a staff survey delivered to NIH director Francis Collins and a panel of his advisers on 12 December. It identified young women, people from sexual and gender minorities and those with disabilities as those most vulnerable to harassment.

The elite panel also reviewed a long-awaited report commissioned by the NIH that charged the agency to work rapidly stop sexual harassment in science labs. But agency watchers who have pressed the NIH to act for more than a year were left without a clear timeline for changes.

“It’s no longer time to consider — it’s time to act,” says Scout, deputy director of the US National LGBT Cancer Network and a member of the Working Group on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment, which prepared the report.

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The Intellectual and Moral Decline in Academic Research – James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal (Edward Archer | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 20, 2020

For most of the past century, the United States was the pre-eminent nation in science and technology. The evidence for that is beyond dispute: Since 1901, American researchers have won more Nobel prizes in medicine, chemistry, and physics than any other nation. Given our history of discovery, innovation, and success, it is not surprising that across the political landscape Americans consider the funding of scientific research to be both a source of pride and a worthy investment.

AHRECS highly recommends this excellent piece.  A worthy read, because it is an important reflection for anyone involved in conducting or guiding research.

Nevertheless, in his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned that the pursuit of government grants would have a corrupting influence on the scientific community. He feared that while American universities were “historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery,” the pursuit of taxpayer monies would become “a substitute for intellectual curiosity” and lead to “domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment…and the power of money.”

Eisenhower’s fears were well-founded and prescient.

My experiences at four research universities and as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) research fellow taught me that the relentless pursuit of taxpayer funding has eliminated curiosity, basic competence, and scientific integrity in many fields.

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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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