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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Friday afternoon’s funny – Catching participants with trickery0

Posted by Admin in on June 19, 2020
 

Cartoon by Don Mayne www.researchcartoons.com
Full-size image for printing (right mouse click and save file)

Tricking participants into exposing themselves to serious harm is a serious ethical breach.  Any use of overt deception should only be used with considerable justification.  In Australia this is reflected in the National Statement (2007 updated 2018)

Zombie papers: Why do papers by the most prolific fraudster in history keep getting cited? – Retraction Watch (Adam Marcus | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 9, 2020
 

It’s a bit like a slugger crediting Barry Bonds for help with his homerun swing. An anesthesiology journal has retracted a 2018 paper that cited three retracted papers by Yoshitaka Fujii, the record-holder for most retractions by a single author.

It is interesting that some are calling for full cancellation. While we generally support the work of Retraction Watch, in this case we think what’s proposed here is a bad idea. It is better to have the work marked for what it is, flawed and with a detailed retraction notice, in the public record so others may learn.

As we’ve written before, journals had a spotty record in reacting to the Fujii scandal, which peaked in 2012. And the latest case involves a bit of that indifference — but other negligence, as well.
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The article in question, “Priming with different doses of Metoclopramide preceded by tourniquet alleviates propofol induced pain: a comparative study with lidocaine,” appeared in 2018 in the Egyptian Journal of Anaesthesia (EJA). Three of the citations were of papers by Fujii, although the article had other failings, too.
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Those citations caught the attention of a reader, who wrote letter to the editor in 2019. The author duly noted that one of the Fujii references — which we’ll call zombie papers — had been retracted in 2013, while the other two had been retracted in 2018, but after the authors had submitted their manuscript to the EJA.
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Read the rest of this discussion piece

The Lancet has made one of the biggest retractions in modern history. How could this happen? – The Guardian (James Heathers | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 8, 2020
 

The now retracted paper halted hydroxychloroquine trials. Studies like this determine how people live or die tomorrow

The Lancet is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world. Recently, they published an article on Covid patients receiving hydroxychloroquine with a dire conclusion: the drug increases heartbeat irregularities and decreases hospital survival rates. This result was treated as authoritative, and major drug trials were immediately halted – because why treat anyone with an unsafe drug?

Now, that Lancet study has been retracted, withdrawn from the literature entirely, at the request of three of its authors who “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources”. Given the seriousness of the topic and the consequences of the paper, this is one of the most consequential retractions in modern history.

It is natural to ask how this is possible. How did a paper of such consequence get discarded like a used tissue by some of its authors only days after publication? If the authors don’t trust it now, how did it get published in the first place?

Read the rest of this discussion piece

When Your Supervisor Is Accused of Research Misconduct – The Scientist (Katarina Zimmer | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 7, 2020
 

Early career researchers face unique challenges when a senior collaborator becomes embroiled in allegations of scientific malpractice.

Evolutionary ecologist Kate Laskowski didn’t have a good start to her new faculty position at the University of California, Davis. She was just a few months in when, late last year, she received an email from a researcher who had some concerns about a study she had coauthored in 2016 with the prolific McMaster University spider biologist Jonathan Pruitt.

To avoid costly consequences, researchers should always carefully scrutinise data provided by collaborators – even if they are more experienced researchers.  We included links to 13 other useful reads.

As a graduate student at the University of Illinois, and later a postdoc at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Germany, Laskowski had collaborated with Pruitt on a study of spider social behavior. The email noted that the raw data collected in Pruitt’s lab, then at the University of California, Santa Barbara, contained odd duplicate values in the columns of a spreadsheet that documented behavioral differences among individual spiders. After combing through the data herself, Laskowski ultimately came to the conclusion that the data, and the study based on them, weren’t trustworthy, and requested earlier this year that the American Naturalist retract the paper. She’d go on to retract another two, both of which she’d coauthored with Pruitt.
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These studies—which supported the hypothesis that the behaviors of individual spiders are influenced by social interactions—would be the first of several of Pruitt’s papers to come under scrutiny from scientific journals, in a series of retractions and expressions of concern that has rattled the animal behavior research community and affected numerous collaborators, including many students and early-career researchers. “I’m in my first year of . . . my dream job,” Laskowski tells The Scientist. “I’ve been so excited to set up new projects, and then I’ve had to spend the past four months dealing with all of these old papers that I thought I was over and done with.”

Read the rest of this discussion piece

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