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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Can soil science research dig itself out from a citation stacking scandal? – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | April 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on July 2, 2018
 

Last year, the soil science community was rocked by reports that an editor, Artemi Cerdà, was accused of citation stacking — asking authors to cite particular papers — boosting his profile, and that of journals where he worked. (Cerdà has denied the allegations.) The case had some major fallout: Cerdà resigned from two journals and the editorial board of Geoderma, additional editors resigned from their posts, and a university launched an investigation. In the midst of the mess, a group of early career scientists in the field released an open letter, urging the leaders of the community “to establish a clear road map as to how this crisis will be handled and which actions will be taken to avoid future misconducts.” Today, Jan Willem van Groenigen, Chair of the Editors in Chief of Geoderma, along with other editors at the journal, published a response to those letter-writers — including a list of the 13 papers that added 83 citations the journal has deemed “unwarranted.” The editorial includes a list of “actions we have taken to prevent citation stacking from recurring and to further strengthen the transparency of the review process” — including monitoring editors and showing authors how to report suspicious conduct.

A reviewer systematically required authors to include references to his articles and/or journals. Even though the decision has been to treat the authors as not culpable this might be an opportunity to observe they could have been treated as partly responsible and so institutions should provide advice/assistance to help ECRs respond appropriately to any such pressure. Having said that, the instructions of the reviewer appeared to have the support of the editors and you have to feel for the ECRs who found themselves subject to such apparent coercion.

Retraction Watch: It’s been nine months since the young researchers released their open letter — why respond now?.

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Jan Willem van Groenigen: This is not our first response. We already responded early March 2017 to this case by online publishing a “letter to the Geoderma community” in which we stated that citation stacking had taken place in our journal. We also stated the number of affected articles and the approximate number of unwarranted citations, although we did not provide details on them like we do in our current editorial. We also announced that Prof. Cerda had withdrawn as member of our Editorial Board. I think that, after the [European Geosciences Union] journals who detected and published this misconduct first, we might have been the first journal to respond.
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Weakened code risks Australia’s reputation for research integrity – The Conversation (David Vaux, et al | June 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 29, 2018
 

In 2018, Australia still does not have appropriate measures in place to maintain research integrity. And recent changes to our code of research conduct have weakened our already inadequate position.

We agree there needs to be strong central facilitation of both good practice and oversight of the substance of review decisions. There is no clear way for issues to be shared across the sector. Within the national framework we have, institutions must establish robust arrangements that are transparent and effective – there must be an investment in the culture of research practice.

In contrast, China’s recent move to crack down on academic misconduct moves it into line with more than twenty European countries, the UK, USA, Canada and others that have national offices for research integrity.
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Australia risks its reputation by turning in the opposite direction.|
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For science to progress efficiently, and to remain credible, we need good governance structures, and as transparent and open a system as possible. Measures are needed to identify and correct errors, and to rectify misbehaviour.
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In Australia, one such measure is the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. But recently published revisions of this code allow research integrity to be handled internally by institutions, and investigations to be kept secret. This puts at risk the hundreds of millions of dollars provided by the taxpayer to fund research.

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Rules for authorship must be clarified – The Ethics Blog (Pär Segerdahl | April 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 22, 2018
 

Recently, I wrote a post on honorary authorships in the academia. When I in that post tried to render the ICMJE criteria for academic authorship, I felt dull since I could not figure out how to express in my own words the fourth criterion:

When national bodies and institutions are thinking about articulating their criteria for authorship this is a useful read. We have included links to a dozen or so other useful authorship reads.

”Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.”

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To count as an author of an academic publication, it is not sufficient to contribute to the research, to drafting or revising the intellectual content of the text, and to approve the final version. You must also satisfy this fourth criterion, which has to do with responsibility for research misconduct.
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The Dying Scientist and his Rogue Vaccine Trial – Wired (Amanda Schaffer | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on June 18, 2018
 

Bill Halford was convinced he’d found a miracle cure, but he was running out of time to prove it. So he teamed up with a Hollywood executive and recruited a band of desperate patients.

IN A PHOTO from 2009, Bill Halford, who was then 40 years old, looks like a schoolboy who hasn’t quite grown into his big ears. He wears an ill-fitting red shirt tucked into belted khakis; his jawline is square and his eyes are full of wonder. The picture was taken at Southern Illinois University, where he was a respected professor. A few years before, he had made a significant discovery—one that would determine the course of his life.

Halford, a microbiologist, had taken an interest in the peculiar nature of herpes—how it lies dormant in the nervous system and reactivates to cause disease. Herpes is one of the most pervasive viral infections in the world, sometimes causing painful genital blisters, and it has frustrated scientists attempting to find a cure. But in 2007, Halford realized that a weakened form of the virus he’d been studying might serve as a vaccine. He designed an experiment in which he inoculated mice with this variant, then exposed them to the wild-type form of the virus. In 2011 he published the results: Virtually all the mice survived. By contrast, animals that were not injected with his vaccine died in large numbers. It was promising science.

That same year, however, Halford became seriously ill. At first he thought he had a sinus infection, but it turned out to be a rare and aggressive form of cancer, sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma. Halford was 42 years old at the time, with two teenage children. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation followed by surgery, but he was told that the form of cancer he had did not usually stay at bay for long. Halford had always been determined—“a 90-hours-a-week sort of researcher,” as his wife, Melanie Halford, puts it. The cancer diagnosis only seemed to harden his focus. Others had tried, and failed, to develop a herpes vaccine, but Halford was convinced that his method—using a live, attenuated form of the virus—would succeed. He would use whatever time he had left to show he was right.

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