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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Make reports of research misconduct public – Nature (C. K. Gunsalus | June 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on June 30, 2019
 

Confronted with bad behaviour, institutions will keep asking the wrong questions until they have to show their working, says C. K. Gunsalus.

During decades as a research-integrity officer, expert witness for misconduct investigations and consultant, I have been inspired — and I have seen inexcusable conduct. Even when investigations are exemplary and findings clear, universities rarely report them publicly. That secrecy perpetuates misbehaviour and breeds mistrust — as evidenced by the ongoing revelations of universities that failed to respond appropriately, sometimes for years, to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Science is fast becoming more transparent. So, too, should institutional practice. Open misconduct reports would create a virtuous circle. Institutions would learn from their own and others’ investigations. Leaders would be more likely to pay attention to reports that are subject to scrutiny. Honest researchers could see that although groundbreaking science is often uncertain, it is qualitatively different from the conduct that leads to misconduct reviews.

We are already seeing such a shift in health care. Last month, a study showed that mortality is lower in UK hospitals in which medical professionals feel that they can talk openly about problems without worrying about repercussions to their careers (V. Toffolutti and D. Stuckler Health Affair. http://doi.org/c6df; 2019). I often find that institutional investigators ask the wrong questions, such as: ‘We don’t have to report this, do we?’, ‘How could anyone think Dr X would do such a thing?’ or (to whistle-blowers) ‘Why would you want to cause trouble for your own research project?’ Investigators pin all the blame on one actor without examining the contributions of co-authors or supervisors of the flawed work. An investigation might stop abruptly if the subject of it resigns. A 2019 paper examining investigations by institutions after the retraction of 12 clinical-trial papers by one research group stated that although investigations lasted for between 8 and 17 months, they did not examine preclinical papers from this group even after receiving detailed, serious concerns about them (A. Grey et al. Res. Integr. Peer Rev. 4, 3; 2019).

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Fake news about the past is a crime against history – University World News (Antoon De Baets | May 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on June 29, 2019
 

Historians observing the current debate on fake news are tempted to make comments from a long-term perspective. First, fake news, as a type of lie that constitutes disinformation, has an ancient pedigree.

Indeed, among the plethora of primary sources used by historians to study the past, some are forged, many distorted and all are biased. To filter truth from such sources, historians have developed a severe method of source criticism over the ages, first in East Asia and Europe.

Although an old phenomenon, fake news in its recent guises also has some strikingly new features because it spreads on the internet nowadays, mainly via social media platforms.

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Junior researchers are losing out by ghostwriting peer reviews – Nature (Virginia Gewin | May 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on June 26, 2019
 

Graduate students and postdocs who produce reviews under a senior colleague’s name receive no credit or acknowledgement for their work, and miss a chance to become acquainted with journal editors.

A large proportion of graduate students and postdocs ghostwrite peer reviews for senior colleagues and supervisors, receiving no professional credit for their work, finds a study1.

Co-authors of the article, which was posted on the preprint server bioRxiv on 26 April, surveyed 498 early-career researchers at institutions in the United States (74%), Europe (17%), Asia (4%) and elsewhere to assess how often junior scientists contribute to such reports and how they feel about them. Half of survey respondents said that they had ghostwritten a peer review, but 80% of those said that they felt the practice was unethical, according to the article.

The survey took pains to distinguish ghostwriting from co-reviewing, a well-established form of training in which an invited reviewer shares a manuscript with junior researchers to solicit their assessment of the paper’s quality; those researchers can expect to receive some type of credit for their efforts. With ghostwriting, by contrast, a principal investigator (PI) uses part or all of a junior researcher’s review contributions and provides no credit. Roughly 75% of survey respondents said that they had co-reviewed; 95% found it to be a beneficial practice and 73% deemed it ethical.

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(CAN) Pharmacy School Dean Withdraws From New Role After Retracted Book Review – Medscape (Ellie Kincaid | June 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on June 24, 2019
 

The incoming dean of a leading Canadian pharmacy school has “voluntarily withdrawn” from the new position after a book review he wrote was retracted from The Lancet in May.

The journal retracted a review of Danielle Martin’s Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for All Canadians by Kishor Wasan and two coauthors because “substantial passages…match parts of a review of the same book by [journalist] André Picard,” the journal wrote in a retraction notice previously reported by Medscape Medical News. Wasan and his coauthors Ellen Wasan and Jawahar Kalra were all at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, at the time of publication.

Kishor Wasan was the corresponding author of the review and had been appointed dean of the University of Toronto’s pharmacy school for a 5-year term. Wasan “has voluntarily withdrawn from his upcoming appointment as dean and professor of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, which had been scheduled to begin July 1, 2019,” University of Toronto spokesperson Elizabeth Church told Medscape Medical News.

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