ACN - 101321555 Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Resource Library

Research Ethics MonthlyAbout Us

ResourcesResearch Misconduct

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(Australian QLD case) Research problems at Australian university hit the news – Retraction Watch (Victoria Stern | April 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on April 19, 2018

A university in Australia that’s made headlines before over allegations of research misconduct has found itself in the news once again.

Last week, the University of Queensland (UQ) announced some of its authors were retracting a paper after discovering data were missing. Just days later, the university made headlines over an investigation into three papers about controversial therapies that were OK’d by UQ ethics committees.

The university announced the retraction via a press release, a practice it says it has maintained since 2013. The other story was revealed by a report in ABC News Australia, in which the university confirmed it is investigating alleged “undeclared conflicts of interest” in at least three papers. The research, which explores unproven therapies promoted by a controversial group called Universal Medicine, was approved by UQ’s ethics committees and led by Christoph Schnelle, who listed UQ as his affiliation; however, Schnelle and his coauthors failed to disclose their affiliations with Universal Medicine.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

A real-life Lord of the Flies: the troubling legacy of the Robbers Cave experiment – The Guardian (David Shariatmadari | April 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 17, 2018

In the early 1950s, the psychologist Muzafer Sherif brought together a group of boys at a US summer camp – and tried to make them fight each other. Does his work teach us anything about our age of resurgent tribalism?
……Read an extract from The Lost Boys

July 1953: late one evening in the woods outside Middle Grove, New York state, three men are having a furious argument. One of them, drunk, draws back his fist, ready to smash it into his opponent’s face. Seeing what is about to happen, the third grabs a block of wood from a nearby pile. “Dr Sherif! If you do it, I’m gonna hit you,” he shouts.

A useful example of the degree to which such work not only fails modern ethical standards, its results were cherry-picked and stage managed. We note again our caution about using such cases to justify current human research ethics/research integrity arrangements. Also see James Kehoe recent post.

The man with the raised fist isn’t just anybody. He is one of the world’s foremost social psychologists, Muzafer Sherif. The two others are his research assistants. Sherif is angry because the experiment he has spent months preparing for has just fallen apart.
Born in the summer of 1905 and raised in İzmir province, Turkey, during the dying days of the Ottoman empire, Sherif won a place at Harvard to study psychology. But he found himself frustrated by the narrowness of the discipline, which mainly involved tedious observation of lab rats. He was drawn instead to the emerging field of social psychology, which looks at the way human behaviour is influenced by others. In particular, he became obsessed by group dynamics: how individuals band together to form cohesive units and how these units can find themselves at each other’s throats.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

‘Cult’ Universal medicine practices promoted by researchers, UQ launches investigation – ABC News (Josh Robertson | Apr 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on April 17, 2018

Researchers who promoted an alleged cult and showcased its bizarre healing claims in published studies have embroiled one of Australia’s top universities in an academic misconduct probe.

The University of Queensland (UQ) and two international medical journals are investigating alleged ethical violations in research around Universal Medicine (UM), an organisation based in Lismore in New South Wales, which touts the healing power of “esoteric breast massage” and other unproven treatments.

Founded by Serge Benhayon — a former bankrupt tennis coach with no medical qualifications who claims to be the reincarnation of Leonardo Da Vinci — UM is a multi-million-dollar enterprise with 700 mostly female followers in 15 countries.

Read the rest of this news story

Costly Collaborations: The Impact of Scientific Fraud on Co‐Authors’ Careers (Papers: Philippe Mongeona and Vincent Larivièreb | January 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on April 14, 2018


Fascinating, albeit technical and limited in scope to biomedicine, analysis of the impact on coauthors of forced retraction. #SpoilerAlert There is a serious and long-term impact on the careers of coauthors (even if apparently innocent of the infraction) when the infraction was due to fraud. There was a smaller but still significant impact on coauthors when the retraction was due to an error. There may be a positive impact of self-retraction, but the sample size is too small to be sure. Once the number of  retractions in other disciplines increases it would be interesting to replicate the work and reflect on any differences

Over the last few years, several major scientific fraud cases have shocked the scientific community. The number of retractions each year has also increased tremendously, especially in the biomedical field, and scientific misconduct accounts for approximately more than half of those retractions. It is assumed that co-authors of retracted papers are affected by their colleagues’ misconduct, and the aim of this study is to provide empirical evidence of the effect of retractions in biomedical research on co-authors’ research careers. Using data from the Web of Science (WOS), we measured the productivity, impact and collaboration of 1,123 co-authors of 293 retracted articles for a period of five years before and after the retraction. We found clear evidence that collaborators do suffer consequences of their colleagues’ misconduct, and that a retraction for fraud has higher consequences than a retraction for error. Our results also suggest that the extent of these consequences is closely linked with the ranking of co-authors on the retracted paper, being felt most strongly by first authors, followed by the last authors, while the impact is less important for middle authors.
Scientific misconduct, retractions, collaboration, bibliometrics

Mongeon, P. and Larivière, V. (2016), Costly Collaborations: The Impact of Scientific Fraud on Co‐Authors’ Careers. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67: 535-542. doi:10.1002/asi.23421
Wiley One Library: