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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(China) How to tackle academic misconduct among China’s top scientists – Times Higher Education (Futao Huang | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 11, 2020

Preventing unethical behaviour requires regulatory and institutional reforms, as well as lead researchers remaining close to work done in their name, says Futao Huang

Since the implementation of China’s national strategy to build world-class universities in 1998, the country has rapidly increased its output of scientific papers. According to the US National Science Foundation’s 2018 Science and Engineering Indicators report, China published more than 426,000 studies in 2016, accounting for 18.6 per cent of the publications indexed in Elsevier’s Scopus database. This means that China has surpassed the US to become the world’s largest producer of research papers.

China has grown to surpass the US and be a powerhouse of academic publishing, but its research misconduct problems have grown as well. It will be interesting to see if its recently toughened stance and approach will improve matters.

However, as early as 2002, the number of cases of academic dishonesty among top scientists in China had begun to rise. According to a 2018 report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, there were 64 cases of academic dishonesty between 2007 and 2017. In 2016, at least 10 scientists were questioned and charged. These incidents occurred at 46 universities and one national research institute. More than 65 per cent of academic misconduct cases took place at leading national universities; and 16 of the universities were included in the Project 985 national excellence initiative and 12 were participants in Project 211.

By academic rank, 38 of the accused academics were professors, and eight were associate professors. Among the more recent incidents of alleged misconduct is that of the immunologist Cao Xuetao, president of Nankai University in Tianjin, who faces questions about image manipulation in dozens of papers produced by laboratories that he leads.

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(US) Ex-Stony Brook prof pleads guilty to swiping $200K of cancer research funds – New York Post (Andrew Denney | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 4, 2020

A former Stony Brook University professor on Tuesday pleaded guilty to siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money intended for cancer research and using the cash for his own personal expenses.

What is reported here is horrifying.

Geoffrey Girnun, 49, admitted in a Long Island federal court to stealing $78,000 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and $147,000 from the college, according to federal prosecutors.

Between 2013 to 2017, the feds say Girnun had the cash wired to two shell companies under his control that he falsely claimed were providing equipment for cancer-research projects.

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Retraction: The “Other Face” of Research Collaboration? (Papers: Li Tang, et al | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 2, 2020


An excellent discussion and a useful inclusion in your institution’s resources for early career researchers.

The last two decades have witnessed the rising prevalence of both co-publishing and retraction. Focusing on research collaboration, this paper utilizes a unique dataset to investigate factors contributing to retraction probability and elapsed time between publication and retraction. Data analysis reveals that the majority of retracted papers are multi-authored and that repeat offenders are collaboration prone. Yet, all things being equal, collaboration, in and of itself, does not increase the likelihood of producing flawed or fraudulent research, at least in the form of retraction. That holds for all retractions and also retractions due to falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism (FFP). The research also finds that publications with authors from elite universities are less likely to be retracted, which is particularly true for retractions due to FFP. China stands out with the fastest retracting speed compared to other countries. Possible explanations, limitations, and policy implications are also discussed.

Tang, L., Hu, G., Sui, Y., Yang, Y. & Cao, C. (2020) Retraction: The “Other Face” of Research Collaboration? Science and Engineering Ethics.

NSF tallies 16 cases of alleged harassment by grantees in first year of new rules – Science (Jeffrey Mervis | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 25, 2020

It’s been 1 year since the National Science Foundation (NSF) implemented a new policy governing when universities must tell it about possible sexual harassment by grantees. Despite adopting a narrow definition of who is covered, agency officials say they are surprised by how many notifications—16 to date—they have received.

Let’s be clear, such harassment is completely unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.  It is also vitally important to pick up that institutions promote a culture that prevents this, but also that allegations need to substantiated as campuses could become rife with the so-called ‘cancel’ culture that could see false allegations due to competition for funding.

The rules apply only to researchers who received an award after 22 October 2018 or a recent amendment to an earlier award, and kick in only when an institution takes what is called an “administrative action.” That could range from monitoring someone’s behavior to banning the alleged perpetrator from campus. Institutions must also notify NSF of the final decision in a harassment investigation involving an NSF grantee, the end of a process that can drag on for years.

If followed by institutions, the notification rules should reduce the chances that the agency is blindsided by media reports of current grantees who are found guilty of harassment. But the rules will not create a database of all sexual harassment investigations at NSF-funded institutions, nor was that NSF’s intention. Rather, the rule addresses NSF’s obligation to ensure a “safe and secure” research environment at places where it is spending money.

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