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

(Australia) Industrial umpire lashes universities ‘obsessed’ with rankings and reputation – Sydney Morning Herald (Nick Bonyhady & Natassia Chrysanthos | March 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 15, 2020

The Fair Work Commission has ordered the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) to reinstate and backpay a dismissed business school lecturer as it criticised the higher education sector for being “obsessed” with top research rankings, reputation and attracting student money.

A timely story about an appalling obsession which is twisting and distorting academia. Universities are behaving in an awful manner in our experience the culture it engenders is horrendous.

Lucy Zhao was fired from UTS in August last year for “unsatisfactory performance” after the university decided she was not publishing enough articles in prestigious academic journals given her experience.

Dr Zhao, who worked at the university from 2005, said she had been “shocked and disappointed” when her supervisor – head of the finance department Professor David Michayluk – put her on a formal “performance improvement plan” in early 2018.

Professor Michayluk told the commission he ultimately decided to terminate Dr Zhao’s employment because he did not “see any improvement on the quality of her research”, despite her receiving support and counselling.

Read the rest of this news story and discussion piece

(China) Chinese scientist Li Ning gets 12 years in prison for embezzling US$4.3 million of government funds – South China Morning Post (Stephen Chen | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 14, 2020

  • Cloning expert and his colleague Zhang Lei from China Agricultural University in Beijing found guilty of moving funds to private firms the pair controlled
  • Court rejects claims money was moved to prevent a funding gap
A Chinese scientist arrested in 2014 for embezzling more than 34 million yuan (US$4.3 million) of research funds has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Another case that highlights how seriously China is taking research misconduct.

Dr Li Ning, an expert in cloning and former director of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology, was found guilty of illegally transferring the funds in the form of “investments” to several companies he controlled, though there was no evidence he spent any of the money on himself, the Intermediate People’s Court of Songyuan in northeast China’s Jilin province said in its verdict.

Li was also fined 3 million yuan, while his assistant, Dr Zhang Lei, was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison and fined 200,000 yuan on the same charge.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

Friday afternoon’s funny – Paper archives0

Posted by Admin in on March 13, 2020

Cartoon by Don Mayne
Full-size image for printing (right mouse click and save file)

The amount of paperwork generated by some human research (not just clinical trials) and research ethics review is no joke.  If your institution is still on paper records you should carefully consider the shift to an electronic approach.

On the Willingness to Report and the Consequences of Reporting Research Misconduct: The Role of Power Relations (Papers: Serge P. J. M. Horbach, et al | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 11, 2020

While attention to research integrity has been growing over the past decades, the processes of signalling and denouncing cases of research misconduct remain largely unstudied. In this article, we develop a theoretically and empirically informed understanding of the causes and consequences of reporting research misconduct in terms of power relations. We study the reporting process based on a multinational survey at eight European universities (N = 1126). Using qualitative data that witnesses of research misconduct or of questionable research practices provided, we aim to examine actors’ rationales for reporting and not reporting misconduct, how they report it and the perceived consequences of reporting. In particular we study how research seniority, the temporality of work appointments, and gender could impact the likelihood of cases being reported and of reporting leading to constructive organisational changes. Our findings suggest that these aspects of power relations play a role in the reporting of research misconduct. Our analysis contributes to a better understanding of research misconduct in an academic context. Specifically, we elucidate the processes that affect researchers’ ability and willingness to report research misconduct, and the likelihood of universities taking action. Based on our findings, we outline specific propositions that future research can test as well as provide recommendations for policy improvement.

Horbach, S.P.J.M., Breit, E., Halffman, W. et al.  (2020) On the Willingness to Report and the Consequences of Reporting Research Misconduct: The Role of Power Relations. Science Engineering Ethics.
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