Scientific misconduct and accountability in teams

Authors : Katrin Hussinger, Maikel Pellens

Increasing complexity and multidisciplinarity make collaboration essential for modern science. This, however, raises the question of how to assign accountability for scientific misconduct among larger teams of authors. Biomedical societies and science associations have put forward various sets of guidelines. Some state that all authors are jointly accountable for the integrity of the work.

Others stipulate that authors are only accountable for their own contribution. Alternatively, there are guarantor type models that assign accountability to a single author. We contribute to this debate by analyzing the outcomes of 80 scientific misconduct investigations of biomedical scholars conducted by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

We show that the position of authors on the byline of 184 publications involved in misconduct cases correlates with responsibility for the misconduct. Based on a series of binary regression models, we show that first authors are 38% more likely to be responsible for scientific misconduct than authors listed in the middle of the byline (p<0.01). Corresponding authors are 14% more likely (p<0.05).

These findings suggest that a guarantor-like model where first authors are ex-ante accountable for misconduct is highly likely to not miss catching the author responsible, while not afflicting too many bystanders.

URL : Scientific misconduct and accountability in teams


How to avoid borrowed plumes in academia

Authors : Margit Osterloh, Bruno S. Frey

Publications in top journals today have a powerful influence on academic careers although there is much criticism of using journal rankings to evaluate individual articles.

We ask why this practice of performance evaluation is still so influential. We suggest this is the case because a majority of authors benefit from the present system due to the extreme skewness of citation distributions. “Performance paradox” effects aggravate the problem.

Three extant suggestions for reforming performance management are critically discussed. We advance a new proposal based on the insight that fundamental uncertainty is symptomatic for scholarly work. It suggests focal randomization using a rationally founded and well-orchestrated procedure.

URL : How to avoid borrowed plumes in academia

Access to Top-Cited Emergency Care Articles (Published Between 2012 and 2016) Without Subscription

Authors : Murad Al Hamzy, Dominique de Villiers, Megan Banner, Hein Lamprecht, Stevan R. Bruijns


Unrestricted access to journal publications speeds research progress, productivity, and knowledge translation, which in turn develops and promotes the efficient dissemination of content.

We describe access to the 500 most-cited emergency medicine (EM) articles (published between 2012 and 2016) in terms of publisher-based access (open access or subscription), alternate access routes (self-archived or author provided), and relative cost of access.


We used the Scopus database to identify the 500 most-cited EM articles published between 2012 and 2016. Access status was collected from the journal publisher. For studies not available via open access, we searched on Google, Google Scholar, Researchgate,, and the Unpaywall and Open Access Button browser plugins to locate self archived copies.

We contacted corresponding authors of the remaining inaccessible studies for a copy of each of their articles. We collected article processing and access costs from the journal publishers, and then calculated relative cost differences using the World Bank purchasing power parity index for the United States (U.S.), Germany, Turkey, China, Brazil, South Africa, and Australia.

This allows costs to be understood relative to the economic context of the countries from which they originated.


We identified 500 articles for inclusion in the study. Of these, 167 (33%) were published in an open access format. Of the remaining 333 (67%), 204 (61%) were available elsewhere on the internet, 18 (4%) were provided by the authors, and 111 (22%) were accessible by subscription only.

The mean article processing and access charges were $2,518.62 and $44.78, respectively. These costs were 2.24, 1.75, 2.28 and 1.56 times more expensive for South African, Chinese, Turkish, and Brazilian authors, respectively, than for U.S. authors (p<0.001 all).


Despite the advantage of open access publication for knowledge translation, social responsibility, and increased citation, one in five of the 500 EM articles were accessible only via subscription. Access for scientists from upper-middle income countries was significantly hampered by cost.

It is important to acknowledge the value this has for authors from low- and middle-income countries. Authors should also consider the citation advantage afforded by open access publishing when deciding where to publish.

URL : Access to Top-Cited Emergency Care Articles (Published Between 2012 and 2016) Without Subscription


Is Open Access to Research Data a Strategic Priority of Czech Universities?

Author : Jakub Novotný

Open access to research data is one of the key themes of current science development concepts and relevant R & D strategies at least in Europe. A systemic change in the modus operandi of science and research should lead to so-called Open Science.

The presented paper questions the extent to which the Open Science concept is reflected in the strategies of Czech universities. The paper first describes basic idea of Open Access to Research Data including principles of „FAIR data” as one of the key assumption of it.

After a brief characterization of the Czech university sector, the results of the empirical analysis of the inclusion of the Open Access to Research Data concept in the current strategic plans of the Czech universities are presented.

The conclusion of the paper is then an evaluation of the results, which reveal an underestimation of the Open Science concept in the current strategic plans of the Czech universities.

URL : Is Open Access to Research Data a Strategic Priority of Czech Universities?


Altruism or Self-Interest? Exploring the Motivations of Open Access Authors

Authors : Robert Heaton, Dylan Burns, Becky Thoms

More than 250 authors at Utah State University published an Open Access (OA) article in 2016. Analysis of survey results and publication data from Scopus suggests that the following factors led authors to choose OA venues: ability to pay publishing charges, disciplinary colleagues’ positive attitudes toward OA, and personal feelings such as altruism and desire to reach a wide audience.

Tenure status was not an apparent factor. This article adds to the body of literature on author motivations and can inform library outreach and marketing efforts, the creation of new publishing models, and the conversation about the larger scholarly publishing landscape.

URL : Altruism or Self-Interest? Exploring the Motivations of Open Access Authors


Impact Assessment of Non-Indexed Open Access Journals: A Case Study

Authors : Daniela Solomon, Mark Eddy

This case study assesses the impact of a small, open-access social sciences journal not included in citation tracking indexes by exploring measures of the journal’s influence beyond the established “impact factor” formula. An analysis of Google Scholar data revealed the journal’s global reach and value to researchers.

This study enabled the journal’s editors to measure the success of their publication according to its professed scope and mission, and to quantify its impact for prospective contributors.

The impact assessment strategies outlined here can be leveraged effectively by academic librarians to provide high-value consultancy for scholar-editors of open access research journals.


Governance of a global genetic resource commons for non-commercial research: A case-study of the DNA barcode commons

Authors : Janis Geary, Tania Bubela

Life sciences research that uses genetic resources is increasingly collaborative and global, yet collective action remains a significant barrier to the creation and management of shared research resources. These resources include sequence data and associated metadata, and biological samples, and can be understood as a type of knowledge commons.

Collective action by stakeholders to create and use knowledge commons for research has potential benefits for all involved, including minimizing costs and sharing risks, but there are gaps in our understanding of how institutional arrangements may promote such collective action in the context of global genetic resources.

We address this research gap by examining the attributes of an exemplar global knowledge commons: The DNA barcode commons. DNA barcodes are short, standardized gene regions that can be used to inexpensively identify unknown specimens, and proponents have led international efforts to make DNA barcodes a standard species identification tool.

Our research examined if and how attributes of the DNA barcode commons, including governance of DNA barcode resources and management of infrastructure, facilitate global participation in DNA barcoding efforts. Our data sources included key informant interviews, organizational documents, scientific outputs of the DNA barcoding community, and DNA barcode record submissions.

Our research suggested that the goal of creating a globally inclusive DNA barcode commons is partially impeded by the assumption that scientific norms and expectations held by researchers in high income countries are universal. We found scientific norms are informed by a complex history of resource misappropriation and mistrust between stakeholders.

DNA barcode organizations can mitigate the challenges caused by its global membership through creating more inclusive governance structures, developing norms for the community are specific to the context of DNA barcoding, and through increasing awareness and knowledge of pertinent legal frameworks.

URL : Governance of a global genetic resource commons for non-commercial research: A case-study of the DNA barcode commons

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