Weekly digest, July 23

Some interesting articles I came across in the past couple of weeks.

How a data detective exposed suspicious medical trials – David Adam – Nature
Anaesthetist John Carlisle has spotted problems in hundreds of research papers — and spurred a leading medical journal to change its practice.

‘Bad science’: Australian studies found to be unreliable, compromised – Liam Mannix – The Age
Hundreds of scientific research papers published by Australian scientists have been found to be unreliable or compromised, fuelling calls for a national science watchdog. For the first time, a team of science writers behind Retraction Watch has put together a database of compromised scientific research in Australia.

UF responds to death of graduate student – Tori Whidden – Alligator
UF has responded to the recent death of a graduate student amid calls for an investigation. (…) In the statement, the university said Chen left behind a note suggesting possible research misconduct by his faculty adviser, Tao Li.

Gravitational fields, silkworm excrement, and “putor” programs: How did this “pure, utter nonsense” get into in a peer-reviewed journal? – Ivan Oransky – Retraction Watch
Sometimes, a paper comes along that is so revolutionary, it defies description. So rather than try to do justice to a recent paper in Parasitology Research, we’ll reproduce a few paragraphs here.

International students in Australia are being targeted by ghostwriting scams – Study International
Ghostwriting services that offer to write students’ essays for them are becoming more aggressive in targeting international students in Australia, ABC reported. These services are specifically targeting international students, mainly from China, who do not have high levels of proficiency in English.

OSU cancer researcher Carlo Croce loses appeal of New York Times libel suit – Ivan Oransky – Retraction Watch
Carlo Croce, a prolific cancer researcher at The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus who was the subject of a 2017 front page story in The New York Times about allegations of misconduct against him, has lost a libel suit that he filed against the newspaper.
(Of personal interest to me, because I was quoted in that NYT article)

From misplaced reasons to shoddy effort, research at the cost of merit – Swati Shinde Gole & Ardhra Nair – The Times of India
The falling standards of research in India, frauds, plagiarism and high number of bogus journals have sparked off concern and debate among academics and a challenge to the University Grants Commission.

The rise of ‘fake’ conferences – and how we can fight them – Paul Killoran – Conference & Meetings World
The rise of predatory conferences jeopardises the future of legitimate research events. But could conference IDs be the solution? Paul Killoran, CEO of Ex Ordo, investigates.

What International Students Should Know About Academic Integrity – Anayat Durrani – U.S.News & World Report
For prospective international students planning to attend a U.S. university, having an understanding of academic integrity is important in order to become a successful college student, experts say. Academic integrity refers to the honesty and respect with which students approach their studies.

Exclusive: Russian site says it has brokered authorships for more than 10,000 researchers – Adam Marcus – Retraction Watch
Want to be a first author on a scholarly paper? A Russian company has you covered — starting at about $500.

Sweden Passes Law For National Research Misconduct Agency – Chia-Yi Hou – The Scientist
After several high-profile cases, the country’s government is creating a board to oversee and investigate all serious allegations of scientific misconduct.

Research misconduct claim upheld against former head of UCL lab – Ian Sample – The Guardian
University Releases Reports from Investigation of Prominent Geneticist – Chia-Yi Hou – The Scientist
A lab run by one of Britain’s foremost academics published fraudulent scientific papers for more than a decade, according to investigators. Work at Prof David Latchman’s laboratory at UCL Institute of Child Health came under scrutiny from senior academics after an anonymous whistleblower alleged that dozens of papers from the lab were doctored.

17% of 331 retracted papers in chemistry, materials science are from India – R. Prasad – The Hindu
Nearly 17% of 331 papers retracted in 2017 and 2018 were from India, published papers stood at around 7% of total.

Can Anything Really Stop the Science Spin Snowball? – Hilda Bastian – PLOS Blogs
With each set of hands study results pass through, there is a chance for another layer of spin to be added or chipped away. Adding is awfully common, though. By the time it gets to the press release stage, the spin can be snowballing fast. The narrative that takes hold can be awfully far removed from what the data bears out.

Deepfake videos pose a threat, but ‘dumbfakes’ may be worse – Beatric Dupuy and Barbara Ortutay – AP News
Sophisticated phony videos called deepfakes have attracted plenty of attention as a possible threat to election integrity. But a bigger problem for the 2020 U.S. presidential contest may be “dumbfakes” — simpler and more easily unmasked bogus videos that are easy and often cheap to produce.

New grant-funded educator misconduct database to aid in research and prevention – University of Texas at San Antonio Today
A researcher and an alumna at UTSA have teamed up to document a disturbing phenomenon in Texas, the seemingly increasing number of investigations into allegations of educator misconduct that make headlines across the state.

Allegations of Bullying and Gender Bias Surface in Swiss Academic Science – Thomas Lewton and Alice McCool – The Wire
Astrophysicist Marcella Carollo and others argue that women in the sciences — and in Switzerland in particular — are held to an impossible double-standard.

Manipulation within a photo should always result in a retraction: Elisabeth Bik – R. Prasad – The Hindu
Scrutinising images for tell-tale signs of manipulation is no longer a hobby for Dr. Elisabeth Bik; it has become a passion. The passion has become so overpowering that she has taken a “year off from paid work to focus more on science misconduct volunteer work”. She has voluminous papers to report on and a mountain of them to follow up.

EPA Clashes With House Panel Over Science Integrity Testimony – Stephen Lee – Bloomberg Environment
The EPA denied allegations from the Democratic chair of a House committee that it blocked its science watchdog from appearing before the panel in a July 17 hearing.

Trump administration’s ‘scientific oppression’ threatens US safety and innovation – Paul Tonko and Brian Schatz – USA Today
Every time there is delay, suppression or manipulation of government science, Americans pay the price in their daily lives. Congress must act.

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