Here is a weekly digest of science integrity related articles. Also, check out Retraction Watch‘s Weekend Reads!
Rock Paper CSIR-IITR
In an article at Science Chronicle, Prasad Ravindranath, Science Editor at The Hindu, writes about extensive image problems in papers authored by scientists at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (CSIR-IITR), in Lucknow, India. In his post “With 73 problematic papers listed on Pubpeer, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research has a serious problem” Prasad points out that 40 of these Pubpeer-flagged papers have Yogeshwer Shukla’s name on them.
In addition to the Science Chronicle post, Smut Clyde has written a guest post on Leonid Schneider’s blog For Better Science about Yogeshwer Shukla’s oevre, which appears to contain a lot of repetitive features.
In chemistry, misconduct more often reason for retraction than honest errors
Emma Stoye at Chemistry World writes about a recent study by François-Xavier Coudert, who analyzed 331 retracted papers in chemistry or material science journals. Over 40% of the retraction notices listed plagiarism (including self-plagiarism) as the cause. Assuming most of those are actually referring to textual similarities to other papers, this is surprising, because textual similarities are one of the easiest types of problems to screen for, and so could be caught before publishing a manuscript.
The threshold for plagiarism
At RetractionWatch, Adam Marcus reports on a researcher who received an invitation to submit papers to the Punjab University Journal of Mathematics, which stated that “plagiarism must be less than or equal to 19%“.
Peer review? No way, Huawei.
Jeffrey Mervis reports for Science that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has banned Huawei employees from peer review. IEEE publishes about 200 journals, such as IEEE Spectrum, and Computer. Huawei is a large Chinese company that makes cell phones and data networks. It is unclear why IEEE has specifically ruled Huawei employees out as peer reviewers.
Angela Abitua and Joanne Kamens from Addgene wrote a blog post at PLOS.org about the advances of reagent repositories, such as for cell lines, plasmids, or plant materials. Ensuring that reagents and materials are well documented and available for others is a big step towards reproducibility of research.
Academics in trouble for undisclosed foreign funding
Several outlets (Endpoint, Science, The Scientist) reported on senior scientists at US universities funded by US money, who were fired or even arrested, because they failed to disclose they also received money from Chinese funds. Neuroscientists Li Xiao-Jiang and Li Shihua were dismissed from Emory University, and four post-docs in their lab were told to leave the US within 30 days. In an article at the South China Morning Post website, the couple disputed that decision, stating that they disclosed their research activities in China yearly to Emory University. The president of Jinan University in China was quick to offer the complete research team jobs, according to this article in University World News.
India scraps publication requirement to get PhD
At Nature, Gayathri Vaidyanathan writes about new regulations in India, where graduate students no longer need to publish scientific papers to get their Phs. India is one of the few countries where PhD requirements are not regulated on the institutional level but country-wide. The new rule’s purpose is to speed up the PhD process, have candidates find jobs quicker, and to decrease the amount of low-quality publications. Others disagree.
VA doctors studied patient samples without consent
An internal report by the Veterans Administration (VA) found violations of research practices. Yet, as inewsource reports, a study using blood, stool, and liver biopsy samples obtained without patients’ consent was published a couple of weeks ago in Digestive Diseases and Sciences. Samples were obtained for a study by UC San Diego / San Diego VA Hospital researchers Bernd Schnabl and Samuel Ho. Although the VA report came out in November 2018, the paper using the un-consented samples was published on May 18, 2019. The journal is now looking into these concerns.
A genetic test for PTSD – with a potential conflict of interest
Neuroskeptic has some critical words about a paper that suggests that a genetic test should be offered to military recruits to test for their risk of PTSD. The main author did not disclose his patents on this test nor his board position on the company that sells the test.
Antibody company publishes paper with allegations
Authors working at Adimab, an antibody discovery company, have published a paper last week in which they claim that antibodies described by a MIT research group are very similar to those developed by other researchers. STAT reported about this story on May 21, followed by The Scientist, The Wall Street Journal, and others.
6th World Conference on Research Integrity
The 6th World Conference on Research Integrity will take place this coming week (June 2-5) in Hong Kong. The conference theme this year is “New Challenges for Research Integrity”. I wish I could be there! (waiting for an invitation hahaha). Follow the conference on Twitter with #WCRI2019.
Large number of ethics violations in Japanese research center
The Japanese National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center has found 158 violations of research conduct, JapanTimes reports. Patient information was used without proper consent. The institution will retract the papers involved. It was not clear from the article if the 158 number referred to the number of patients or papers involved.
Misconduct among police officers might be contagious
Not really science misconduct, but some lessons to be learned: Nova Next reporter Katherine J. Wu writes about a new study in Nature Human Behavior that describes that misbehavior by police officers might actually make other people on their team misbehave too. Misconduct appeared to spread to their peers, even if officers were reassigned to new teems.
Published in a predatory journal? You might lose grant money #InSouthAfrica
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in South Africa has been withholding subsidies money to researchers who published in predatory journals, according to a report on University World News. DHET currently defines predatory journals as those not included in 6 indices, such as Web of Science and Scopus.
Half of international students in New Zealand pay others to write their essays
An 1NEWS investigation earlier this month revealed that about half of international students at Auckland University do not write their own essays, but rather pay others to write them for them. This practice is called “ghostwriting”.
- June 2-5, 2019: The 6th World Conference on Research Integrity in Hong Kong (see above)
- July 8, 2019: Live Seminar on “Current regulatory thinking on Data Integrity” , Boston, MA