Weekend reads: The ethics committee member who sold grades for cash; how to spot misconduct in clinical trials; biotech cited allegedly altered data in grant application

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The week at Retraction Watch featured:

Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up to 147.

Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

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6 thoughts on “Weekend reads: The ethics committee member who sold grades for cash; how to spot misconduct in clinical trials; biotech cited allegedly altered data in grant application”

  1. The story of the missing sequences appears to be more of a political cautionary tale than a straightforward lab leak coverup. I speculate that there was some sort of decision to remove such sequences from foreign databases just in case they contained information harmful to China. Whoever made the decision does not seem to have known the implications of the sequences and may not have known anything else about the origin of the virus. In this case the Chinese anxiety was unnecessary, so the data is now restored. Regardless, databases need to be on guard against political orders to delete inconvenient scientific data.

  2. Regarding the professor who sold grades for cash, I wonder what penalties, if any, were meted out to the students who bought grades or access codes.

  3. Regarding “Reliability of researcher metric the h-index is in decline.” I find it funny that this ChemistryWorld news uses a wrong definition of the h-index: “A scientist with an h-index of 30 has published 30 papers that have each been cited more than 30 times”. Should read: “A scientist with an h-index of 30 has published 30 papers that have each been cited at least 30 times”.

    Anyway, I agree with the main conclusion about the poor reliability of the h-index as a metric measuring individual scientists’ impact in their fields. In my humble opinion, something barely relevant would be to compute h’ = log(log(h)). Scientists with h’ 0 are consolidated researchers. Now, comparing h’ = 0.18 and h’ = 0.20 really makes no sense whatsoever.

    Unfortunately, the current h-index is fine for academic bodies and their obsessive mantra (rank, rank, rank!): 1) It’s an integer. 2) The full scale is approximately 0-100, omitting marginal cases, like Didier Raoult (h = 193), Sigmund Freund (h > 250), etc. 3) It’s available free of charge using Google Scholar or simple tools like “publish or perish”. 4) It’s a monotonically increasing function over time; your h-index will never decline, giving the false impression that any scientist improves over and over, which, obviously, is not true.

    1. Sorry, something went wrong with one sentence in my previous comment, paragraph 2. Please read:

      “Scientists with h’ 0 are consolidated researchers”

      1. “Scientists with negative h’ have still to prove themselves, while those with positive h’ are consolidated researchers”.

    2. What base logarithm for h’?

      Wow, Dider Raoult has a really high h-index. He must be an excellent researcher! /s

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