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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

University Under Fire For Off-The-Grid Herpes Vaccine Experiments – Kaiser Health News (Marisa Taylor | January 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on March 1, 2018
 

WASHINGTON — Southern Illinois University’s medical school has halted all herpes research, one of its most high-profile projects, amid growing controversy over a researcher’s unauthorized methods offshore and in the U.S.

This update doesn’t add much new to this shocking story (and we have included earlier reporting in the Resource Library), but this report offers an opportunity to reflect on the importance of institutions taking proportionate, firm but fair action when confronted with dangerous lone-wolf misdeeds.

SIU’s ethics panel launched a “full” investigation Dec. 5 of the herpes vaccine experiments by university professor William Halford, according to a memo obtained by Kaiser Health News.
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Halford, who died in June, had injected Americans with his experimental herpes vaccine in St. Kitts and Nevis in 2016 and in Illinois hotel rooms in 2013 without routine safety oversight from the Food and Drug Administration or an institutional review board, according to ongoing reporting by KHN. Some of the participants say they are experiencing side effects.
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The panel, known as the Misconduct in Science Committee, told SIU’s medical school dean that the inquiry should not only investigate the extent of Halford’s alleged wrongdoing, but also scrutinize “members of his research team,” according to the Dec. 5 memo obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
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(Australian case) Images used in biomedical articles suspected of manipulation – The Australian (John Ross | February 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on February 27, 2018
 

New claims of image manipulation have cast a cloud over the work of three Deakin Univer­sity biomedical researchers.

The Australian has obtained evidence suggesting that seven images published in three journal articles, all co-authored by the three researchers, may have come from an unrelated PhD thesis by the team’s junior member.

In some cases, the images ­appear identical. In others, they seem to have been reversed or cut and then reversed.

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Science Suffers from Harassment – Scientific American (The Editors | January 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on February 26, 2018
 

Last fall, as the horrific allegations of sexual misconduct and assault against entertainment titan Harvey Weinstein started to emerge, details of another alleged case came to light, not from a Hollywood casting couch but from remote scientific research stations in Antarctica. Two former graduate students of prominent Boston University geologist David Marchant lodged formal complaints against their onetime mentor, saying that he had sexually harassed them during research expeditions nearly 20 years ago. One complainant alleged that Marchant called her a “slut” and a “whore,” threw rocks at her when she went to the bathroom in the field and goaded her to have sex with his brother, who was also on the expedition. After a 13-month investigation, the university concluded that Marchant had indeed engaged in sexual harassment. Marchant has appealed the finding.

Most national research integrity codes and international guidance don’t include harassment as research misconduct but they should. Research institutions need to take more seriously the risk of sexual abuse during fieldwork because there’s a Weinstein-level problem brewing

The case is one in a string of allegations leveled against high-profile scientists in recent years that add to a growing body of evidence that science, like Hollywood, is rotten with sexual misconduct. In a survey published in 2014, 71 percent of female respondents said they had been sexually harassed during field research, and 26 percent said they had been sexually assaulted. In a follow-up study, survey participants described psychological trauma from the encounters that compromised their ability to continue their research. Some abandoned their careers altogether.
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Science, like all human endeavors, benefits from diversity. Yet women hold just 24 percent of jobs in science, technology, engineering and medicine. If factors such as sexual misconduct are driving women out of science, then the scientific community must act. To that end, last September the nearly 60,000-member American Geophysical Union (AGU) took the bold step of revising its ethics policy to treat harassment (including sexual harassment), discrimination and bullying as scientific misconduct, with the same types of penalties for offenders. Other scientific organizations have not adopted that standard, and we think they should.
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Rebranding Retractions and the Honest Error Hypothesis – PLOS Blogs (Hilda Bastian | November 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on February 23, 2018
 

We have a serious problem with errors and irredeemably flawed studies: there’s a lot of them, and they keep leading people astray. Few errors get corrected. And it’s very rare for a paper to be retracted (less than half a percent).

A rose by any other name? This discussion piece reflects on the implications and viability of creating new labels for author-initiated retractions, honest/good faith errors and minor errors. Hilda Bastian suggests the practicalities might be harder than it might appear and the benefits more uncertain.

Fixing this isn’t going to be easy. It’s always possible to make things worse, too, in predictable and surprising ways. So we should stick to first principles when thinking about whether major interventions are desirable:
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  • Is it feasible?
  • How sure are we that it will have the intended effect?
  • What could go wrong?

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One of the ideas that’s been circulating quite a bit in the last year is to de-stigmatize retractions by rebranding. It came up again at a recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) colloquium, [PDF] reportedly advocated by the President of NAS and former editor-in-chief of the Science journals, Marcia McNutt:

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