Afraid of Scooping – Case Study on Researcher Strategies against Fear of Scooping in the Context of Open Science

Author : Heidi Laine

The risk of scooping is often used as a counter argument for open science, especially open data. In this case study I have examined openness strategies, practices and attitudes in two open collaboration research projects created by Finnish researchers, in order to understand what made them resistant to the fear of scooping.

The radically open approach of the projects includes open by default funding proposals, co-authorship and community membership. Primary sources used are interviews of the projects’ founding members.

The analysis indicates that openness requires trust in close peers, but not necessarily in research community or society at large. Based on the case study evidence, focusing on intrinsic goals, like new knowledge and bringing about ethical reform, instead of external goals such as publications, supports openness.

Understanding fundaments of science, philosophy of science and research ethics, can also have a beneficial effect on willingness to share. Whether there are aspects in open sharing that makes it seem riskier from the point of view of certain demographical groups within research community, such as women, could be worth closer inspection.

URL : Afraid of Scooping – Case Study on Researcher Strategies against Fear of Scooping in the Context of Open Science


Open Access, Privacy, and Human Rights : A Case Study on Ethics in Library and Information Sciences Education

Author : Joachim Schöpfel


How do students comment on ethical principles, which principles are important for their awareness of librarianship, how do they understand the relevance of human rights for their future work?


The case study presents the results of a lecture on information rights and ethics with 50 Master students in library and information sciences (LIS) at the University of Lille (France) in 2014–2015. Students were asked to comment on the core principles of the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA) Code of Ethics.


The students see the library as a privileged space of access to information, where the librarian takes on the function of a guardian of this specific individual freedom—a highly political role and task.

This opinion is part of a general commitment to open access and free flowing resources on Internet. They emphasize the social responsibility toward the society as a whole but most of all toward the individual patron as a real person, member of a cultural community, a social class or an ethnic group.

With regard to Human Rights, the students interpret the IFLA Code mainly as a code of civil, political, and critical responsibility to endorse the universal right of freedom of expression.

They see a major conflict between ethics and policy. The findings are followed by some recommendations for further development of LIS education, including internship, transversality, focus on conflicts and the students’ cognitive dissonance and teaching of social skills, in terms of work-based solidarity and collective choices.


The chapter is qualitative research based on empirical data from a French LIS Master program.


The Natural Selection of Bad Science

Authors : Paul E. Smaldino, Richard McElreath

Poor research design and data analysis encourage false-positive findings. Such poor methods persist despite perennial calls for improvement, suggesting that they result from something more than just misunderstanding.

The persistence of poor methods results partly from incentives that favor them, leading to the natural selection of bad science. This dynamic requires no conscious strategizing—no deliberate cheating nor loafing—by scientists, only that publication is a principle factor for career advancement.

Some normative methods of analysis have almost certainly been selected to further publication instead of discovery. In order to improve the culture of science, a shift must be made away from correcting misunderstandings and towards rewarding understanding. We support this argument with empirical evidence and computational modeling.

We first present a 60-year meta-analysis of statistical power in the behavioral sciences and show that power has not improved despite repeated demonstrations of the necessity of increasing power.

To demonstrate the logical consequences of structural incentives, we then present a dynamic model of scientific communities in which competing laboratories investigate novel or previously published hypotheses using culturally transmitted research methods.

As in the real world, successful labs produce more « progeny », such that their methods are more often copied and their students are more likely to start labs of their own.

Selection for high output leads to poorer methods and increasingly high false discovery rates. We additionally show that replication slows but does not stop the process of methodological deterioration. Improving the quality of research requires change at the institutional level.

URL : The Natural Selection of Bad Science


Ethical Research Primer for the Novice Researcher

As the research process is embarked upon, it is important that a novice researcher become well versed in ethical standards. Maintaining the highest level of ethical conduct is of paramount importance at all stages of the endeavor. Unethical behavior compromises research quality, slows the advancement of knowledge, and undermines societal trust. Thus, development of familiarity and expertise surrounding ethical complexities will enhance the chances of a successful and worthwhile research project. The purpose of this article is to create awareness of the ethical dilemmas novice researchers are faced with in maintaining the academic integrity of published works. The article explores the literature related to ethics in research, and provides a discussion of a number of ethical issues which threaten research quality.

URL : Ethical Research Primer for the Novice Researcher

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Sharing Public Health Research Data: Toward the Development of Ethical Data-Sharing Practice in Low- and Middle-Income Settings

It is increasingly recognized that effective and appropriate data sharing requires the development of models of good datasharing practice capable of taking seriously both the potential benefits to be gained and the importance of ensuring that the rights and interests of participants are respected and that risk of harms is minimized. Calls for the greater sharing of individual-level data from biomedical and public health research are receiving support among researchers and research funders. Despite its potential importance, data sharing presents important ethical, social, and institutional challenges in low-income settings.

In this article, we report on qualitative research conducted in five low- and middle-income countries exploring the experiences of key research stakeholders and their views about what constitutes good data-sharing practice.

URL : Sharing Public Health Research Data

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Retraction policies of top scientific journals ranked by impact factor


This study gathered information about the retraction policies of the top 200 scientific journals, ranked by impact factor.


Editors of the top 200 science journals for the year 2012 were contacted by email.


One hundred forty-seven journals (74%) responded to a request for information. Of these, 95 (65%) had a retraction policy. Of journals with a retraction policy, 94% had a policy that allows the editors to retract articles without authors’ consent.


The majority of journals in this sample had a retraction policy, and almost all of them would retract an article without the authors’ permission.


Publishing Ethics and Predatory Practices: A Dilemma for All Stakeholders of Science Communication

Publishing scholarly articles in traditional and newly-launched journals is a responsible task, requiring diligence from authors, reviewers, editors, and publishers. The current generation of scientific authors has ample opportunities for publicizing their research. However, they have to selectively target journals and publish in compliance with the established norms of publishing ethics. Over the past few years, numerous illegitimate or predatory journals have emerged in most fields of science. By exploiting gold Open Access publishing, these journals paved the way for low-quality articles that threatened to change the landscape of evidence-based science.

Authors, reviewers, editors, established publishers, and learned associations should be informed about predatory publishing practices and contribute to the trustworthiness of scholarly publications. In line with this, there have been several attempts to distinguish legitimate and illegitimate journals by blacklisting unethical journals (the Jeffrey Beall’s list), issuing a statement on transparency and best publishing practices (the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association’s and other global organizations’ draft document), and tightening the indexing criteria by the Directory of Open Access Journals. None of these measures alone turned to be sufficient. All stakeholders of science communication should be aware of multiple facets of unethical practices and publish well-checked and evidence-based articles.