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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

U.S. Public Health Service STD Experiments in Guatemala (1946–1948) and Their Aftermath – Ethics and Human Research (Kayte Spector‐Bagdady Paul A. Lombardo | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 22, 2019

The U.S. Public Health Service’s sexually transmitted disease (STD) experiments in Guatemala are an important case study not only in human subjects research transgressions but also in the response to serious lapses in research ethics. This case study describes how individuals in the STD experiments were tested, exposed to STDs, and exploited as the source of biological specimens—all without informed consent and often with active deceit. It also explores and evaluates governmental and professional responses that followed the public revelation of these experiments, including by academic institutions, professional organizations, and the U.S. federal government, pushing us to reconsider both how we prevent such lapses in the future and how we respond when they are first revealed.

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Hopefully most people with an interest in the history of human research ethics will be well aware of the egregious ethical breaches and misdeeds in Guatemala. (If not we’ve included links about the case).  This item appears to raise nothing new. However,  it questions whether merely reporting a breach is sufficient.  Mark Israel considers that question further in his commentary piece in the subscribers’ area.

Duke University’s huge misconduct fine is a reminder to reward rigour – Nature (Arturo Casadevall | April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 15, 2019

US$112.5-million settlement concerning fraudulent data is a casualty of a culture that prizes impact over robustness, says Arturo Casadevall.

Last week, Duke University announced it would pay the US government US$112.5 million to settle claims that fraudulent data were used in dozens of research-grant applications. This is a communal punishment for an institution where the overwhelming majority of scientists are honest, hard-working individuals seeking knowledge for the good of humanity.

The lesson is that scientific misconduct can carry severe institutional costs. (And scientific ones: more than a dozen papers connected to this case have been retracted.) Duke, in Durham, North Carolina, has promised to improve its practices and administration, including setting up an advisory panel on research integrity and excellence.

These steps are laudable. But I worry that the seeds of misconduct, although they grow in only a very few individuals, are planted in the very heart of academic biomedical sciences.

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RePAIR consensus guidelines: Responsibilities of Publishers, Agencies, Institutions, and Researchers in protecting the integrity of the research record (Papers: Collaborative Working Group from the conference “Keeping the Pool Clean… | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 14, 2019

The progression of research and scholarly inquiry does not occur in isolation and is wholly dependent on accurate reporting of methods and results, and successful replication of prior work. Without mechanisms to correct the literature, much time and money is wasted on research based on a crumbling foundation. These guidelines serve to outline the respective responsibilities of researchers, institutions, agencies, and publishers or editors in maintaining the integrity of the research record. Delineating these complementary roles and proposing solutions for common barriers provide a foundation for best practices.

Research integrity, Retractions, Researchers, Publishers, Editors, Agencies, Institutions, Research misconduct, International, Communication

Research Integrity and Peer Review – RePAIR consensus guidelines: Responsibilities of Publishers, Agencies, Institutions, and Researchers in protecting the integrity of the research record. Research Integrity and Peer Review 2018, 3:15
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Research Misconduct in East Asia’s Research Environments (Papers: Hee-Je Bak | June 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 6, 2019

High-profile cases of scientific misconduct, such as the Hwang scandal in South Korea, the Obokata scandal in Japan, and the growing number of retracted papers written by Chinese scientists have led to a new interest in research misconduct in East Asia. Since research misconduct is by no means rare in the history of science, some observers may view them merely as indicative of increased research activity in this region. From this perspective, research misconduct tends to result in blaming and punishing individual scientists. However, if we subscribe to the precept of STS that scientists’ behavior is embedded in their social and cultural contexts, we may use research misconduct to apprehend the distinctive social and cultural contexts of scientific practices. In other words, the investigation of research misconduct in East Asia is a valuable opportunity for the STS community to discuss the social and cultural environment that shapes research practices in this region. Drawing on three cases of research misconduct in Japan, South Korea, and China, this special issue highlights the social and cultural environments surrounding each case rather than the scientific misconduct itself.

Local biologicals are a promising way of capturing the influence of social and cultural environments of a specific location on scientific practices. Sarah Franklin has explained stem cell science as a global biological enterprise interwoven with local biologicals. She described a local biological as practices in stem cell science that reflect “specific national and economic priorities, moral and civic values, and technoscientific institutional cultures” (Franklin 2005, 61).

Using the concept of local and global biologicals, Koichi Mikami’s article in this issue highlights the importance of social and institutional culture to understand a case of research misconduct. She addresses the stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cell scandal, often called the Obokata scandal, in Japan where Haruko Obokata and her colleagues at RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) published two papers in Nature on a new method to reprogram differentiated somatic cells to be pluripotent, or capable of becoming any type of cell in the body, but soon these papers were retracted. Mikami focuses on how Japan’s socioinstitutional culture influences the reactions of society to Obokata’s claim of the existence of STAP cells, instead of her individual misbehavior. She notes the influence of Shinya Yamanaka’s success on stem cell science in Japan. Obokata’s work attracted media attention in Japan partly because it claimed to extend Yamanaka’s work on iPS cells. As a Nobel Prize winner, Yamanaka was a young hero in Japan and brought high expectations for stem cell research not only in the stem cell research community but also in the Japanese government and the public. According to Mikami, the initial enthusiasm for Obokata and her colleagues’ successful experiment on STAP cells reflected the high expectation for stem cell research in Japan since Yamanaka’s success in 2007, which constitutes a local biological.

Bak, HJ. (2018) Research Misconduct in East Asia’s Research Environments. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 12 (2): 117-122.
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