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In the news: January Digest

Predatory Publishing

Leading scholars and publishers from ten countries have agreed a definition of predatory publishing. It took 12 hours of discussion, 18 questions and 3 rounds to reach.

Allegations of misconduct

The Chinese education ministry, along with a number of journals, are investigating a large number of papers by the immunologist and university president Cao Xuetao, following concerns raised by Elisabeth Bik, that they contain problematic images.

Dr Tracey Bretag, COPE Council member, has been recognised in 'People of the year: who mattered in higher education in 2019' for her work with Dr Cath Ellis on addressing contract cheating in universities. Dr Bretag has said that universities detect perhaps one-sixth of cheats, and argues that institutional culture change is needed to tackle the problem in a meaningful way.

Data and reproducibility

The STM Association has designated 2020 as the “STM Research Data Year” with the goals of increasing the number of journals with data policies and that deposit the data links to the SCHOLIX framework, increasing the number of articles with data availability statements and the citations to datasets.

The UK Reproducibility Network, which formed during 2019, now has ten university members who are commited to working together to determine how their cultural practices, such as emphasizing the importance of novelty, discovery and priority, undermine the value of replication, verification and transparency.

This presentation at the Munin Conference in December, described an initiative to increase awareness within the linguistics community of the value of data citation. (include image)

The authors of this paper present a consensus-based checklist to improve and document the transparency of research reports in social and behavioural research.

Ethical oversight

ICMJE recommendations have been revised. The main changes are rephrasing COIs to relationships and activities, adding efforts for inclusion and diversity, and advising against citing predatory journals.

The number of retractions for papers published by Chinese researchers is disproportionately high. This paper reports on the challenges in research integrity, and potential strategies and solutions to address it, based on research carried out through studying global retraction data, data on revoked national grants and and surveys and interviews with researchers and major stakeholders in China.

Uta Frith, past president of the British Science Association, calls for a “slow science revolution” suggesting that it would be worth restricting the number of publications that a researcher could publish each year, to reduce the information overload which is caused by the current pressure to publish.

On 27 January, LIBER in collaboration with FIT4RR will hold a webinar on research integrity and responsible research covering trends, training approaches and implementing responsible research practices.

Research presented at the Society for Research into Higher Education conference which was based on interviews with 75 humanities and social sciences academics, senior administrators and journal editors in China, suggested that not all scholars are keen on the “cash for articles” incentive schemes within Chinese Universities.

Journal Management

As China announces a 5-year multi-million dollar plan to develop its STM journal publishing, the Scholarly Kitchen interviews two Chinese publishers to hear their views on this effort.

Peer review processes

Scholarly review is much older than we think. This paper gives examples of editorial review in ancient Rome, post-publication peer review involving in the fourth century, and pre-publication review in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

This paper presents a study of single blind versus double blind review in computer sciences, and concludes that single-blind review confers a significant advantage to papers with famous authors and authors from high-prestige institutions.

A survey of STEM fields investigated the pervasiveness and author perceptions of long-term implications of receiving unprofessional comments during peer review. They found that traditionally underrepresented groups were most likely to perceive negative impacts after receiving an unprofessional peer review, and that these are likely to perpetuate the gap for these groups in STEM fields.

Post-publication discussions

In this Scholarly Kitchen post, the authors discuss SciScoreTM, a tool which has been developed to evaluate whether the authors have addressed blinding, sex, and randomisation of subjects into groups, power analysis, as well as key resources.

Other news

An analysis of 49k manuscript submissions and 76k peer reviews showed that levels of out of hours work by researchers were high with clear differences seen between countries. Chinese researchers most often worked at weekends and at midnight, whereas researchers in Scandinavian countries were among the most likely to submit during the week and the middle of the day. The authors suggest some policy interventions which could be made in universities and by journals to reduce the expectation that this work is done outside working hours.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are widely used to inform clinical guidelines and decision making. Powerful organisations have emerged to construct a knowledge base in medicine underpinned by the results of systematic reviews. But what if systematic reviews are in fact doing more harm than good?

COPE Council member Deborah Kahn

In COPE's January Digest we launch the predatory publishing discussion document introduced by COPE Chair, Deborah Poff, in her January letter. We hear from Helena Wang on research integrity challenges in China. Upcoming events in 2020 include a March COPE workshop in Melbourne, held in conjunction with ISTME, and our March Forum with advice on new cases submitted by members and a topic discussion, editing of reviewer comments.

Read January Digest: Predatory Publishing