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

Is research integrity training a waste of time? – Nature (Gemma Conroy | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 24, 2020

Building good research practices begins before entering the lab.

More training and clear guidelines are favoured as fixes for bad research practices, but a new study suggests that these efforts are wasted if researchers are inherently dishonest.

A well-balanced view that articulates that good behaviour is bred early and can’t rely on compliance training too late in the trajectory of researcher training. There is value in professional development focussed on resourcing practice and discussing missteps+traps, but we shouldn’t deceive ourselves about their transformative powers.  Our focus must be on research practice and rewarding good practice, not volume.

The study published in BMC Medical Ethics revealed that childhood education and personality traits have a greater influence on how researchers conduct their work than formal training in research integrity.

The authors write that while it is possible to teach professional scientists the rules of rigorous research, “it might be far too late to imbue them with integrity that they do not already have.”

Institutions around the world are grappling with how to best tackle the problem of research misconduct.

But even after two decades of mandated training in responsible conduct for researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation in the US, “the evidence on effectiveness of these trainings in changing behavior of researchers remains inconsistent and weak”, according to the paper.

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Opinion: Exorcising Ghostwriting from Peer Review – TheScientist (James L. Sherley | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on February 15, 2020

Training young scientists to review submitted manuscripts should be an academic exercise, not a facet of professional scientific publishing.

On November 4, 2019, The Scientist ran a revealing Q&A highlighting a recent survey published in eLife. Responses from early career researchers (ECRs) and other scientists drew attention to a widespread, unethical practice to which academic scientists have too long resigned themselves—peer review ghostwriting (8:e48425, 2019).

A member of the AHRECS team has the experience of being told, as an RA, to do this.  We won’t identify who did the asking, but they should be ashamed of themselves.

As defined in that paper, peer review ghostwriting occurs when scientists hand over manuscripts that they have agreed to review for journal editors to graduate students or postdocs in their research groups. The involvement of the junior scientists is not typically disclosed to the journal, so editors work under the impression that the invited reviewer developed and wrote the resulting manuscript review themselves.

Survey results reported in the eLife paper provided the first quantitative evidence for the prevalence of this practice, as well as for the practice the study authors refer to as co-reviewing. In a strict sense, co-reviewing happens when a trainee is involved in developing and writing the review and their contribution is disclosed to journal editors. Some consider this transparent form of collaborative peer review a valuable part of scientific training, and the eLife study authors even argue that journals should codify co-review. But in my experience, the involvement of co-reviewers is sometimes not disclosed to the journals, just as is the case with ghostwriters.

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Estonian Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (Guidelines | 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on February 13, 2020

The earliest codes of ethics in Estonia were formulated during the first period of independence (1918-1940). For instance, the first code of ethics for veterinarians was approved by the Council of the Chamber of Veterinarians on 6 March 1938. The Union of Estonian Veterinarians has now adopted a new Code of Ethics (available in Estonian only), stating general principles, veterinarians’ responsibilities toward the client, rules of professional conduct and collegial relationships. Several codes of ethics and mission statements can be found in various fields, regulating professional conduct and ethical rules in professional unions, non-governmental organisations, and private corporations. According to The Handbook of Codes of Conduct (2007), published by the Tartu University Centre for Ethics, there were approximately 90 codes of conduct in different fields in 2007.

An essential resource if your institution conducts research in Estonia.

For example, there are codes of ethics (available in Estonian only) for teachers, doctors, psychologists, engineers, and so on. The Estonian Medical Association has formulated the Estonian Code of Medical Ethics which states general principles, doctors’ responsibilities toward patients and in practice, and principles in collegial relationships. TheUnion of Estonian Psychologists has articulated Union of Estonian Psychologists for its members. A Code of Conduct for members of the Estonian Association of Engineers was approved in 1996 by its General Assembly.

The Code of Ethics of Estonian Scientists was approved in 2002 by the General Assembly of the Estonian Academy of Sciences.

Access the Codes’ web site

Working with research integrity – guidance for research performing organisations: The Bonn PRINTEGER Statement (Resource | February 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on January 28, 2020

About the document

Research integrity is inherently linked to the quality and excellence of research and science for policy. To further this agenda, the European PRINTEGER project (Promoting Integrity as an Integral Dimension of Excellence in Research) has conducted comprehensive studies on research integrity and misconduct. [i] The research shows that there is a need for increased focus and guidance on how organisations may address such issues. In order to develop guidance that is anchored beyond the PRINTEGER project consortium, a consensus panel was established with a broader range of members representing wide practical and theoretical understandings of how to strengthen integrity in research organisations. The panel consists of members from different European countries and organisations, with diversity in terms of gender, geography, functions, seniority and disciplinary background.2 The members discussed recommendations in two rounds by email (a Delphi process) and at a final 1-day meeting during the PRINTEGER Conference on Research Integrity, in Bonn in Germany, February 7th 2018. This document presents the outcome of the consensus process.

The authors of this contribution are the signatories of the statement. While drawing on their professional backgrounds, the panel members are signatories of the statement in their private capacity. The statement represents the agreement of all members.


Research—and thus research misconduct—mostly takes place in a professional and organisational setting, and the organisations are normally held to be co-responsible for the conduct of their staff. There are therefore clear expectations (in some countries, legally mandated) for organisations to systematically work to promote responsible conduct in research, strengthen research integrity and reduce the risk of research misconduct. This document emphasises that responsibility for ethical research lies with everyone who is active in research, but especially with leaders in research performing organisations. Researchers’ morals alone cannot ensure research integrity; good conditions for exercising integrity must also be created at the level of the organisation and the research system.

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