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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Historicizing the crisis of scientific misconduct in Indian science (Papers: Mahendra Shahare & Lissa Roberts | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on July 11, 2020


The Indian experience and recent approach is worth emulating.  National approaches should focus on institutions, structural incentives and only after that research culture.

A flurry of discussions about plagiarism and predatory publications in recent times has brought the issue of scientific misconduct in India to the fore. The debate has framed scientific misconduct in India as a recent phenomenon. This article questions that framing, which rests on the current tendency to define and police scientific misconduct as a matter of individual behavior. Without ignoring the role of individuals, this article contextualizes their actions by calling attention to the conduct of the institutions, as well as social and political structures that are historically responsible for governing the practice of science in India since the colonial period. Scientific (mis)conduct, in other words, is here examined as a historical phenomenon borne of the interaction between individuals’ aspirations and the systems that impose, measure, and reward scientific output in particular ways. Importantly, historicizing scientific misconduct in this way also underscores scientist-driven initiatives and regulatory interventions that have placed India at the leading edge of reform. With the formal establishment of the Society for Scientific Values in 1986, Indian scientists became the first national community worldwide to monitor research integrity in an institutionally organized way.

Scientific misconduct, fraud in science, research integrity, the Society for Scientific Values, India

Shahare, M., & Roberts, L. (2020). Historicizing the crisis of scientific misconduct in Indian science. History of Science

(Italy) There is no I in data: Former grad student has paper retracted after mentor objects – Retraction Watch (Adam Marcus | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on July 5, 2020

Just because you work in a lab doesn’t mean you get to call the data you produce your own. Ask Constantin Heil.

Problems like this can be compounded if your institution’s policy affords HDR candidates shared ownership for data generated as part of their studies.  Does your institution have resources to mitigate this?  We have included two resources from an Australia institution.

In the mid-2010s, Heil was a PhD student at La Sapienza University in Rome, where he conducted studies with his mentor, Giuseppe Giannini. That research led to Heil’s dissertation, a paper titled “One size does not fit all: Cell type specific tailoring of culture conditions permits establishment of divergent stable lines from murine cerebellum.”

Heil — who is now working in Switzerland for a company called SOPHiA Genetics — used some of those data to publish a 2019 article, “Hedgehog pathway permissive conditions allow generation of immortal cell lines from granule cells derived from cancerous and non-cancerous cerebellum,” in a peer-reviewed journal, Open Biology, which belongs to the Royal Society.

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Research ethics courses as a vaccination against a toxic research environment or culture (Papers: Nicole Ling Yeo-Teh & Bor Tang | June 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 25, 2020


We have included 17 links to other items about promoting a positive research culture through HDR professional development and mentoring.

Hofmann and Holm’s (2019) recent survey on issues of research misconduct with PhD graduates culminated with a notable conclusion by the authors: ‘Scientific misconduct seems to be an environmental issue as much as a matter of personal integrity’. Here, we re-emphasise the usefulness of an education-based countermeasure against toxic research environments or cultures that promote unethical practices amongst the younger researchers. We posit that an adequately conducted course in research ethics and integrity, with a good dose of case studies and analyses, can function in a manner that is metaphorically akin to vaccination. The training would cultivate the ability to analyse and build confidence in young researchers in making decisions with sound moral reasoning as well as in speaking up or arguing against pressure and coercions into unacceptable behaviour. A sufficiently large number of young researchers exposed to research ethics trainings would essentially provide a research community some degree of lasting herd immunity at its broadest base. Beyond passive immunity, a crop of research ethics-savvy young researchers could also play active and influential roles as role models for others at their level and perhaps even help correct the wayward attitudes of some senior researchers and initiate prompt action from institutional policy makers in a bottom-up manner.

Authorship, research environment, research ethics, research misconduct, responsible conduct of research courses

Yeo-Teh, N. S. L., & Tang, B. L. (2020). Research ethics courses as a vaccination against a toxic research environment or culture. Research Ethics.
Publisher (Open Access):

Developing Grad Students’ Scientific Literacy Skills – Inside Higher Ed (David A. Sanders | February 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on April 21, 2020

Mentors can use a number of pedagogical techniques, and recent developments in the realm of scientific publication have provided new opportunities, writes David A. Sanders.

It is axiomatic that students need to learn to read and write. At first, one might assume that this task is accomplished early in their education. But, in fact, learning to read and write is a continuing, lifelong process.

Essential skills that should form a component of HDR capacity and the work of supervisors.

That is nowhere better demonstrated than in the training of a scientist. Their required reading and writing skills differ from those that a nonscientist might develop. For example, critical evaluation of experimental data presented in a number of formats is a central component of scientific reading. You have to learn how to examine each figural or tabular presentation of results and determine for yourself whether it supports the interpretation and conclusions that the authors of a published article have provided.

In most cases, budding scientists acquire the requisite capacities in graduate school. Mentors can use a number of pedagogical techniques, and recent developments in the realm of scientific publication have provided new opportunities for inculcating literacy and effective composition.

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