Research misconduct and research data

There is a presumption that researchers’ keep their raw data in order, that there are lab journals and notes so that someone else can test the results by duplicating the research. This is not always the case. Sweden and most other countries do not have an adequate system to detect or expose research irregularities. The structure in place in Sweden today does not protect the one reporting of the irregularities or the one who has been suspected of misconduct, particularly well. A doctoral student might not dare to cast suspicion on his/her supervisor in the fear of damaging his/her own career or university does not want to investigate into allegations because it might mean losing research funding.

Often when irregularities in research are uncovered the research publications will be retracted. This means that results from the articles are not to be used in other research. Most of the retractions are done due to plagiarism, serious errors in interpretation of research data, fabricated research data or self plagiarism meaning that big part of text for one’s own previously published research is used without citing that work.

Brian Deer uncovered falsifications in a study into the possible connection between vaccination and autism. The so called Wakefield study had falsified number of things in the research. It took twelve years for The Lancet to retract the article. Deer means that researchers should be controlled like sportsmen: unannounced visits to labs to make sure papers and log books and notes are in order.

The Swedish Research Counsil requires a data publishing plan to be attached to an application for research funding. They would like for the research data to be made openly available for others to have the possibility to use the same data for their project and also because openly available research data might increase citations. This demand brings out another question: might there be even other reasons? Could it be that this is a first step making it easier to control research results against research data and expose research misconduct?

There are voices in Sweden asking for a new system to manage suspicions of research misconduct. One of them is Madeleine Leijonhufvud, a professor in criminal law at the Stockholm University, says that the research world in Sweden is so small, everyone knows everyone, that there is a need to call in experts from abroad when cases of misconduct are investigated.

A database where you can search for retracted articles does not exist but Retraction Watch blog writes about retracted articles. There are a some studies made on retracted articles, .e.g. The persistence of error: a study of retracted article on the Internet and in personal libraries and A Comprehensive Survey of Retracted Articles from the Scholarly Literature.  The first one studies articles which have been retracted but are still available online and the second one studied retracted articles from several disciplines, not just within medicine and Life Sciences.

Both of these studies and parts of the research community are demanding ways to educate researches on research ethics but also to discuss more openly retracted literature and also to create better and independent organizations to investigate research misconduct. Maybe we should follow Norway? There you might be sentenced to prison for research misconduct.

Text: Pieta Eklund

The University of Lund teaches on academic writing, in english

IN SWEDISH

There is an incredible amount of guides on how to write scientifically in various forms, both as printed books, such as on a shelf 001.42, 400 or 808 at the library. But also online. University Libraries usually have their own guides and also collect other online.

Now Lund University released its guide that has previously only been available to their students and staff. It’s called AWELU, Academic Writing in English and addressed to the writer of academic English. This resource is now an Open Educational Resource, OER, which means that it’s freely available for anyone to use.

This guide is very comprehensive and, although it is slightly adapted to Lund library resources it’s also most useful to others. So take the opportunity to take advantage of this and improve or learn how to write academic texts.

Text: Lisa Carlson

The reference copy

IN SWEDISH

The library aims to have a copy of all the books that appear on a literature list to any of the University’s courses. This copy is meant to be used only in the library, and can’t be borrowed home.

How do we know if a book is available as reference copy? We start as usual from Summon which is the library search service. Write the title or author in the search box and you get a list of results that looks something like this:

kursref_eng

Here you find all the information you need to know if the book is a reference copy. If you choose to click through from the results list, you get more detailed information of the book:

kat_eng

Then it’s time to visit the 1st floor of the library where there is a shelf with books labeled Course Reference. To find the book you can see the green rings in the pictures above. They indicate where on the shelf the book is. In this case the book under the letter B for Bryman, the book’s author. But the book can also be on the title so be sure to note the information on the location. If the book is not in place, the most common explanation that it is used by someone else and it usually comes in place during the day. If you can’t find the book several days in a row it’s good to contact the information desk on level 2. If you find that one of the books on your course list does not have a reference copy please also contact information desk to inform of the book’s title and to what course it belongs.

Text & pictures: Lisa Carlson

Peerage of Science

A couple of weeks ago BioMed Central wrote in one of their blogs that they are now accepting manuscripts which have gone through a peer review by Peerage of Science community. I think this is very interesting because this initiative makes the research world and peer review process more open and transparent compared to the traditional peer review process. This means also that journals do not have to put as much of their energy into finding reviewers which might lead to faster publishing process.

Peerage of Science was started about a year ago Peerage-of-Science1
by a couple of Finnish researcher. With this initiative the review process in itself becomes more important. You are able to build your research career and reputation by giving high quality reviews. You have the possibility to review rather than weed out all requests to review from journals. The idea with the service is simple: create a group of peers who all have signed up for making the review process more transparent.

As a researcher you may send a manuscript to Peerage of Science without being a member but you may become a member. There are two ways for this: either you already have a track record of published articles or your manuscript receives favorable reviews.

Read also BMC series blog on how Peerage of Science works.

Text: Pieta Eklund

Nobel Prize Controversy

When the Nobel Prize Laureates are announces it sometimes creates controversy. Most often it is The Nobel Peace Prize that creates the most controversy and there are a couple of reasons for this. We are reminded of all existing conflicts and inequalities. There is also different ideas about what Alfred Nobel meant with his will and how it should be interpreted. There is also controversy regarding who chooses the Laureates.  According to the will Nobel wanted the prize to be given to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind” and “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. Read full text of Alfred Nobel’s will.

Some of the Peace Prize Laureates from the couple of last years’ are Liu Xiaobo (2010), Barack Obama (2009) and Al Gore (2008) have been critized. Xiaobo for being oscure and unknown among the Chinese youth, Obama for getting too soon and not yet deserving of the Prize and Gore for his work with environmental questions cannot be related to a conflict.

Even the other Nobel Prizes create controversy. Just a couple of days ago a stem cell pioneer sued the Nobel committee for its statement why the Nobel Medicine Prizes is awarded Shinya Yamanaka of Japan and John Gurdon of Britain. There are even some Laureates who have declined the prize more or less because of their own will. In 1937 Adolf Hitler forbade German nationals to accept any Nobel Prizes because the Peace Prize was awarded Carl von Ossietzky, a German writer who openly critized Adolf Hitler. The ban affected three other German researchers. They did receive their certificate and medal later. You could also do what Jean Paul Sartre says has done: decline the prize because an author should not allow himself/herself become an institution. Nevertheless, he wanted to get the prize money. Or you could do what most of the Nobel laureates do: accept the prize as a recogonition of a lifetime achievement.

Text: Pieta Eklund

The nobelprizes 2012 and our collection.

In the University Library in Borås, you can find articles in Summon by all this year’s prizewinners in:

Physics:  Serge Haroche  and David J. Wineland

Chemistry: Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka

Fysiology or Medicine: Shinya Yamanaka and John B. Gurdon

Economics: Alvin E. Roth and Lloyd S. Shapley

The articles featured here are all available in full text. You may need to identify yourself with your log on credentials to get access to the articles. Please contact the library if you are having trouble.

You can also search for free articles by the scientist in Wiley Online Library (this is just one place to look for free materials). Just search for the author and then identify the ones that are freely avaible with this symbol:

free_wiley

Or take a look at this page from ScienceDirect, they’ve listed their articles with free access of this years nobelprize winners.

There are also a lot of youtube lectures and other materials about the prizewinners.

For example a physics tv-show with David J. Wineland titled Physics for the 21st Century: David Wineland: The Quantum World Single Ion Clocks.

Two lectures by Robert J. Lefkowitz titeled Seven Transmembrane Receptors and  Beta arrestines.  

A lecture by Shinya Yamanaka from 2011.

Alvin E. Roths lecture with the title What Have We Learned from Market Design

There are also interviews like this one with John B. Gurdon.

You can read a lot more on the official Nobelprize website.

Text: Lisa Carlson