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Contract cheating will erode trust in science – Nature (Tracey Bretag | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 13, 2019
 

To combat academic dishonesty, focus on educational systems and not just individual offenders, says Tracey Bretag.

Stories of students paying others to do their work come from all around the world. In the 2015 MyMaster scandal in Australia, hundreds of students who were enrolled in more than a dozen universities paid a total of at least Aus$160,000 (US$108,000) to a ‘service’ that provided ghost-written essays and responses to online tests. In 2018, YouTube stars on more than 250 channels received money for promoting a cheating service called EduBirdie. Similar companies have been uncovered in the United States and elsewhere. Scientists should not deceive themselves: they are not immune.

Part of a series that we call “KPI=Key Perverse Incentives”. Our current system aids and abets the worst behaviour rather than promoting scholarship for improving the world.

Academics call this ‘contract cheating’. My colleagues and I have assembled what is, to our knowledge, the largest data set on the topic — with responses from some 14,000 students and 1,000 teachers across 8 Australian universities. We found that roughly 6% of students have engaged in the practice; that most who cheat do so more than once; and that both post- and undergraduate students engage in it. Cheating is not new, but the proliferation of commercial, online services in the past 5–10 years has made it easier than ever.
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And cheating is becoming increasingly normal. Since the 1990s, universities around the world have reimagined themselves as commercial enterprises that promote educational ‘products’ to student ‘consumers’. In 2017, a commentator likened the brash marketing strategies of some UK universities to the advertising of shampoo, and hundreds of academic papers have openly criticized the ‘marketization’ of higher education. It’s no wonder students opt to take the most convenient route to an academic credential — just as they would shop around for any other deal. In our survey, more than one-third of teachers specifically blamed contract cheating on the commercialization of higher education.
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Highlight negative results to improve science – Nature (Devang Mehta | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 10, 2019
 

Publishers, reviewers and other members of the scientific community must fight science’s preference for positive results — for the benefit of all, says Devang Mehta.

Near the end of April, my colleagues and I published an unusual scientific paper — one reporting a failed experiment — in Genome Biology. Publishing my work in a well-regarded peer-reviewed journal should’ve been a joyous, celebratory event for a newly minted PhD holder like me. Instead, trying to navigate through three other journals and countless revisions before finding it a home at Genome Biology has revealed to me one of the worst aspects of science today: its toxic definitions of ‘success’.

Our work started as an attempt to use the much-hyped CRISPR gene-editing tool to make cassava (Manihot esculenta) resistant to an incredibly damaging viral disease, cassava mosaic disease. (Cassava is a tropical root crop that is a staple food for almost one billion people.) However, despite previous reports that CRISPR could provide viral immunity to plants by disrupting viral DNA, our experiments consistently showed the opposite result.

In fact, our paper also showed that using CRISPR as an ‘immune system’ in plants probably led to the evolution of viruses that were more resistant to CRISPR. And although this result was scientifically interesting, it wasn’t the ‘positive’ result that applied scientists like me are taught to value. I had set off on my PhD trying to engineer plants to be resistant to viral diseases, and instead, four years later, I had good news for only the virus.

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Advancing research integrity: a programme to embed good practice in Africa (Papers: Anke Rohwer, et al | 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 18, 2019
 

Abstract
In Africa, training programmes as well as institutional policies on research integrity are lacking. Institutions have a responsibility to oversee research integrity through various efforts, including policies and training. We developed, implemented and evaluated an institutional approach to promote research integrity at African institutions, comprising a workshop for researchers (“bottom-up”) and discussions with senior faculty on institutional policies (“top-down”). During the first day, we facilitated a workshop to introduce research integrity and promote best practices with regards to authorship, plagiarism, redundant publication and conflicts of interest. We used a variety of interactive teaching approaches to facilitate learning, including individual and group activities, small group discussions and case-based learning. We met with senior faculty on the following day to provide feedback and insights from the workshop, review current institutional policies and provide examples of what other research groups are doing. We evaluated the process. Participants actively engaged in discussions, recognised the importance of the topic and acknowledged that poor practices occurred at their institution. Discussions with senior researchers resulted in the establishment of a working group tasked with developing a publication policy for the institution. Our approach kick-started conversations on research integrity at institutions. There is a need for continued discussions, integrated training programmes and implementation of institutional policies and guidelines to promote good practices.

Keywords:
Research integrity, Africa, institution, publication policy, workshop

Rohwer, A., Wager, E. & Young, T. (2019). Advancing research integrity: a programme to embed good practice in Africa. Pan African Medical Journal. 33. 10.11604/pamj.2019.33.298.17008.
Publisher (Open Access): http://www.panafrican-med-journal.com/content/article/33/298/full/

The Publishing Trap (A game by UK Copyright Literacy | October 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on September 22, 2019
 

Introduction
The Publishing Trap is a board game from the UK Copyright Literacy team that allows participants to explore the impact of scholarly communications choices and discuss the role of open access in research by following the lives of four researchers – from doctoral research to their academic legacies. It is a full functioning, prototype game first developed in 2016 when it won a runner’s up prize at the LILAC Lagadothon. However, the game has evolved considerably since then.

A great research outputs/academic career game, produced by UK Copyright Literacy that is an engaging and informative alternative to ‘chalk and talk’ workshops.

Aim of the Game
The Publishing Trap is a game about research dissemination and scholarly communication in Higher Education. The game follows the academic career of four characters who at each stage in their career, from PhD submission, through to Professorship, are presented with a series of scenarios about which they have to make choices. The characters make decisions about how to disseminate their research at conferences, in academic journals and in monographs or textbooks. Ultimately the game helps researchers to understand how money, intellectual property rights, and both open and closed publishing models affect the dissemination and impact of their research. Through playing the game in teams, players get to discuss the impact of each character’s choices. The game ends at the end of the character’s life, when players sees the consequences of the choices they have made in terms of money, knowledge and impact.
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The Audience
The Publishing Trap is aimed at early career researchers and academics, as well as anyone who has a vested interested in understanding how access to information works and how the whole scholarly communication system in higher education operates. Although it is not intended to promote any particular ideological position, it should be valuable to staff who are advocating for a greater acceptance of open access publishing models and trying to encourage academic staff to make informed choices when they sign publishing contracts and submit their work to the institutional repository.
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Access the game’s web site

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