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Will U.S. academies expel sexual harassers? – Science (May 2018 | Meredith Wadman)0

Posted by Admin in on August 11, 2018
 

As high-profile sexual harassment cases fuel public criticism, the presidents of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced last week they may adopt new policies allowing the prestigious bodies to eject members who have committed harassment and other forms of misconduct. Members of the academies—which serve as both honorific societies and advisers to the U.S. government—are elected by existing members to life-long terms, and the bodies currently lack mechanisms for removing them for harassment.

Because scientists and the public “place much trust” in the three Washington, D.C.–based academies, their leadership councils “have begun a dialogue about the standards of professional conduct for membership,” the presidents said in a 22 May statement. “We want to be sure that we are doing everything possible to prevent sexual harassment, to instill a culture of inclusion and respect, and to reinforce that harassment is not tolerated.” The statement was signed by Marcia McNutt, head the National Academy of Sciences (NAS); C. D. Mote Jr., head of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE); and Victor Dzau, head of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

Some researchers welcomed the announcement. “This may seem small, but as someone who’s been working with them for 2 years, this is BIG for this organization,” tweeted Kate Clancy, an anthropologist who studies sexual harassment in science at the University of Illinois in Urbana. Clancy helped author an NAS report on sexual harassment in science that will be released on 12 June.

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How scientific publishers can end bullying and harassment in the sciences – Forbes (Ethan Siegel | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on August 11, 2018
 

When it comes to exploring the Universe, many young people get literally starry-eyed at the prospect. The cosmic story of what the Universe is, how it works, where it came from, what its fate is, and how it got to be this way, is a story we all have in common. Millions of children grow up wanting to be scientists; millions still pursue this dream in college and beyond. While some choose other fields or avenues for a variety of reasons, a great many people — particularly women and people of color — leave the field directly due to bullying and harassment. Enduring abuse shouldn’t be a required skill for a successful scientific career, and many people and organizations are working tirelessly to root out this systemic injustice.

Many have claimed that this is a complex problem with no easy solutions. But there is a simple solution right in front of us, for every field. If the publishers of scientific journals everywhere enforced a universal code of ethics — if you violate the code, you cannot publish your scientific work — systematic bullies and harassers would be eliminated from their fields. It’s a proposal that demands consideration.

In 2017, scientists conducted the largest, most comprehensive study ever of gendered and racial harassment in the fields of astronomy and planetary science. From the women who responded, 85% reported encountering sexist remarks, with 79% reporting sexist remarks from their peers and 44% reporting sexist remarks from their supervisors. Among all people of color, 68% experienced racist remarks, with 58% reporting racist remarks from their peers and 10% reporting it from their own supervisors. When the #astroSH hashtag trended on Twitter back in 2016, hundreds of stories emerged from people who were bullied and harassed, often to the point where they wound up leaving the field.

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Geoscience society rescinds award to top seismologist after ethics investigation – Nature (Sara Reardon | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on August 10, 2018
 

The American Geophysical Union says it received a ‘conduct-related complaint’ against Thomas Jordan.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has quietly reversed a decision it made in 2017 to award its highest honour, the William Bowie Medal, to seismologist Thomas Jordan. The action came after an AGU investigation determined that Jordan, the former director of the Southern California Earthquake Center in Los Angeles, had violated the AGU’s ethics policy — which he disputes.

“Last fall AGU received a formal ethics complaint regarding the 2017 named Bowie Medalist’s fitness for AGU’s highest honor,” chief executive Christine McEntee wrote in an e-mail to the AGU Council on 3 May. “This was a conduct-related complaint.” According to the e-mail, obtained by Nature, the AGU Ethics Committee investigated the complaint and recommended that the organization’s board of directors not award the medal to Jordan; the board agreed.

Jordan appealed against the decision, as allowed by the AGU ethics policy, but the board ultimately decided in late April not to give him the award.

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Repeat Offenders: When Scientific Fraudsters Slip Through the Cracks – Undark (Alison McCook | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on August 6, 2018
 

Balancing due process with the academic community’s right to know is no easy task, but critics say more could be done to weed out bad actors.

SOMETIME AFTER 2010 — he isn’t exactly sure when — Richard Miller, a professor of pathology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, looked up a former faculty member who had worked in his lab on the popular government research database, Medline. When he saw that the researcher, Ricky Malhotra, was publishing new work out of the University of Chicago, Miller said he was “surprised and upset.” That’s because he knew something about Malhotra that he bet Malhotra’s new employers didn’t.

The issues at play here are far from easy, especially during an active investigation where the guilt of a person hasn’t been determined, but the damage (and for some areas of research the very real peril to the community) should prompt a discussion of what to do when a cheat/bad researcher changes institution.

If someone had called Miller to discuss his former mentee, he could have told them Malhotra left his lab — which focuses on the genetics of aging — after confessing to fabricating data. It wasn’t a minor case: In 2007, Malhotra admitted to performing 60 percent or less of the approximately 80 experiments expected from him, among other infractions.

But no one called Miller, and now that he knew Malhotra was conducting research at another institution, he was torn. On the one hand, he thought “it would be good for the scientific community to call the University of Chicago and tell them what was going on,” Miller said. At the same time, the University of Michigan was still conducting an investigation of Malhotra’s misdeeds there, and that investigation was confidential. “I wasn’t sure,” Miller said, “how to reconcile those two separate obligations.”

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