Ethics training paper retracted because data couldn’t be shared
Here’s the notice for “Improving Case-Based Ethics Training: How Modeling Behaviors and Forecasting Influence Effectiveness:”
The authors have advised the Co-Editors of Science and Engineering Ethics that the article noted above must be withdrawn from publication. The University of Oklahoma’s Institutional Review Board conducted a review of the study after online publication had occurred, concluding that, for administrative reasons, the data could not be used outside of reporting to the granting agency. They deferred judgment on whether the publication should be retracted to the Provost’s office. The Provost’s office held that publication of an article requires authors to make the data publicly available and hence recommended retraction.
The paper has been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
We asked the authors for more details, and Shane Connelly responded:
This was an IRB-approved paper-pencil study investigating how certain features of ethics case studies influence knowledge and application of case study principles to new ethical scenarios. The study was part of a larger training course and participants consented to allow us to use their data from the study at the end of the course. Several administrative issues influenced our Institutional Review Board’s decision to not allow the data from this study to be used for research purposes. One of these had to do with the fact that some of the course instructors were not listed as key study personnel and they handed out and collected the study materials and informed consent forms. Even though they did not have any other involvement in the study, we recognized this oversight. Additionally, we implemented two minor changes to study materials, including dropping two items and renumbering 8 items, and did not obtain re-approval for these changes. Lastly, through this review process, we became aware that roughly half of the informed consent forms (ICFs) were not on file. Although we kept a clear record of who consented and who did not through the use of a training checklist, we recognized this was a data storage lapse. We worked with our IRB to fix these problems and have better processes in place to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future. Although the senior editor for the journal did not think that these issues warranted retraction of our paper, our university’s decision that we could not share the data publicly influenced our decision to voluntarily retract the article.
This is a subtle case, as the disagreement between the editor and the university demonstrates. We’d be curious to hear what Retraction Watch readers think.
Hat tip: Ken Pimple