Weekend reads: 179 researchers indicted; how to reject a rejection; breaking the law on clinical trial data

booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured more installments in the seemingly never-ending story of fake peer reviews. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

Retractions Outside of The Scientific Literature

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10 thoughts on “Weekend reads: 179 researchers indicted; how to reject a rejection; breaking the law on clinical trial data”

  1. As pressure builds on PLOS ONE to release data from a chronic fatigue syndrome study

    The PACE team have come up with a new reason to deny Prof. Coyne access to the data he requested, i.e. he hasn’t signed the agreement to preserve patient confidentiality. This being the agreement that they haven’t given him any opportunity to sign.

  2. I just fail to understand why should scientists give away their data for free, when , in other disciplines, data is bought and sold? In my opinion, the owner of data is the entity that pays for its collection.

    1. I think that’s the point in many of these instances. In the case of grants funded by NIH and similar US institutions, the taxpayer is “the entity that paid for its collection.”

      The publication of the data, methods and code is intended to allow replication, which as has been shown here and elsewhere recently has been problematic. Some of the topics — healthcare, global warming, toxicity studies — have large impacts for public policy and public spending, and attempts at replication seems eminently appropriate.

      Statistical manipulation to produce inappropriate results, whether accidental or intentional, will be exposed along with other problems.

      Now, in areas where the data or methods are commercially valuable, the solution is to go ahead and use it commercially, publishing only what can be released … and replicated.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      1. Under the Bayh-Dole Act in the USA, rights to intellectual property (which includes data) are not automatically assigned to the federal government. They are assigned to the grantee.
        In my experience, funding contracts negotiated by research institutions clearly spell out who owns the IP generated through the work. Generally it’s the research institution, not the funder.

        One possible difference is where data are patient medical records collected during routine care. Depending on the local laws, the data is owned by the patient – not the service provider and not researchers who may use the data.

    2. I think the flaw in your argument is that it isn’t their data. The data belong to the organisation that pays the scientists and when their funding comes from the the public either in the form of fundraising or taxes the public has a right to expect a return. They also have the right not to be expected to fund the same research over and over again because those they fund won’t share their data. In the field of genomics it’s generally considered very poor practice not to release most data.

    3. If the your data is valuable and you wish not to share it, don’t publish. It’s that simple.

      First, science is ill served by claims that are not supported by free access to data so they can be replicated and verified. Secondly, too often the results are deliberately promoted to invoke fear and concern. You will suffer if you eat this; you will get sick if you don’t do that; the earth will fry if we don’t change; etc. We should not publish any research that seeks to alter what others do if they hide their data. As we see daily on this site, the ethics of many researchers leave much to be desired. The potential to do grievous harm to society is too great not to demand open access of data and methodology.

      It seems to me that the primary reason to hid one’s data is fear that someone else will make better use of it. If that’s true, don’t publish. In fact, you are not worthy of being published.

  3. With reagrds to the BMJ article on rejecting rejections. The authors state under competing interests:

    “Although they have received several rejections from prestigious medical journals, at the time of writing they had not been rejected by The BMJ. Should this occur they will no doubt use the strategy outlined here.”

    But how would we ever know? If they used the strategy would BMJ have then “accepted” their paper, or would BMJ have rejected their own rejection based on the authors rejection of the rejection?

  4. The rejecting a rejection paper also features one comment (http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h6326/rr-1) that suggests that this paper is quite similar to a much earlier rejection-rejection letter a student once sent to a college after it had rejected his application. The present paper does not list this source. A case for Retraction Watch? 😉

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