Research misconduct and research data

There is a presumption that researchers’ keep their raw data in order, that there are lab journals and notes so that someone else can test the results by duplicating the research. This is not always the case. Sweden and most other countries do not have an adequate system to detect or expose research irregularities. The structure in place in Sweden today does not protect the one reporting of the irregularities or the one who has been suspected of misconduct, particularly well. A doctoral student might not dare to cast suspicion on his/her supervisor in the fear of damaging his/her own career or university does not want to investigate into allegations because it might mean losing research funding.

Often when irregularities in research are uncovered the research publications will be retracted. This means that results from the articles are not to be used in other research. Most of the retractions are done due to plagiarism, serious errors in interpretation of research data, fabricated research data or self plagiarism meaning that big part of text for one’s own previously published research is used without citing that work.

Brian Deer uncovered falsifications in a study into the possible connection between vaccination and autism. The so called Wakefield study had falsified number of things in the research. It took twelve years for The Lancet to retract the article. Deer means that researchers should be controlled like sportsmen: unannounced visits to labs to make sure papers and log books and notes are in order.

The Swedish Research Counsil requires a data publishing plan to be attached to an application for research funding. They would like for the research data to be made openly available for others to have the possibility to use the same data for their project and also because openly available research data might increase citations. This demand brings out another question: might there be even other reasons? Could it be that this is a first step making it easier to control research results against research data and expose research misconduct?

There are voices in Sweden asking for a new system to manage suspicions of research misconduct. One of them is Madeleine Leijonhufvud, a professor in criminal law at the Stockholm University, says that the research world in Sweden is so small, everyone knows everyone, that there is a need to call in experts from abroad when cases of misconduct are investigated.

A database where you can search for retracted articles does not exist but Retraction Watch blog writes about retracted articles. There are a some studies made on retracted articles, .e.g. The persistence of error: a study of retracted article on the Internet and in personal libraries and A Comprehensive Survey of Retracted Articles from the Scholarly Literature.  The first one studies articles which have been retracted but are still available online and the second one studied retracted articles from several disciplines, not just within medicine and Life Sciences.

Both of these studies and parts of the research community are demanding ways to educate researches on research ethics but also to discuss more openly retracted literature and also to create better and independent organizations to investigate research misconduct. Maybe we should follow Norway? There you might be sentenced to prison for research misconduct.

First published in Biblioteksbloggen 2013-02-13

By: Pieta Eklund

Set default to Open Access

Set default to Open Access is this year’s theme for Open Access week. The idea is that Open Access should be the first choice when publishing research. Goal of Open Access week is to raise researchers’ awareness of Open Access as an alternative way to publish instead of the traditional “closed access” way of publishing and distributing research results. The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities was created and signed by many universities and libraries almost ten years ago. The declaration defines open access and states that the research process is only half finished if the results are not spread throughout the society so that the public can easily get access to the results. The declaration basically supports Open Access publishing.

During 2012 Open Access movement has reached several milestones. In April the World Bann announce that they will implement Open Access policy which in the long term means that all research funded by the World Bank will be made available with no cost to the reader. In July some British politicians suggested that the British government should make sure that all research funded by public funds should be made available online with no cost to the reader. During the same month even some American politicians recommended that all research funded by NIH (National Institute of Health) should be freely available no later than six months after publishing.

The Finch report which was published last summer stated that Open Access will be the way for the scholars to publish in the future. Finch report recommends the gold way (publishing in Open Access journals) instead of the green way (depositing publication in an institutional archive). The transition to Open Access journal will not happen immediately and it will not be without costs. At the moment the British universities pay about £200m a year for access to scientific journals. According to the Finch report it will cost about £60m a year to have all British publicly funded research freely available. Now the British government is planning to make all research available by 2014 though there will be no special funds for this reform. It is planned that a part of the existing research funds will be used to fund this change. It is an admirable goal the British goverment is working towards but there are those who criticize the chosen road to Open Access. Stevan Harnad, one of the most influential people within the movement, is of the opinion that the gold road to Open Access is not the best or most effective way to reach the goal, especially when there will be no additional funds. He advocates the green road.

One other great success for Open Access is that the EU Commission has said that all research funded by Horizon 2020, EUs new framework for research with €80 billion to allocate, has to be made open access six to twelve months after publishing. Just a couple a weeks ago the news that the whole area of particle physics will be transitioning to open access was published.

In Sweden the government has published its proposition for research politics for 2013-2016 (Forskning och innovation Prop, 2012/13:30) and in it they have commissioned The Swedish Research Council to develop forms and guidelines for open access, for both research results and research data.





First published in Biblioteksbloggen 2012-10-22

By: Pieta Eklund

ORCID – an international ID for researchers

Good news for all researchers. Open Researcher & Contributor ID (ORCID) is launched today. ORCID is a non-profit organization and they aim to create a global open register with unique IDs for researchers. You can register yourself; all you need is your and your name, and it does not cost you anything. They do not aim to collect a lot of information on researchers or your research interests, the goal is to be a register. The IDs will be used by other services to communicate and manage information.

One benefit of an international research-ID is that it will be easier for you and a publisher to communicate with each, other since there might be researchers with the same name as you. In other words it will be easier to connect a researcher with a publication.

Read more about ORCID.

First published in Biblioteksbloggen 2012-10-16

By: Pieta Eklund

Bibliometrics at the Crossroads – seminar in Gothenburg

Bibliometrics is in focus for many universities at the moment and has been for a while. This is partly due to the report about performance based resource allocation for universities by Anders Flodström and partly because scientific publishing with peer-reviewed articles is going though changes. All communication is changing and getting faster, so also scientific communication. The changes occur for instance in the way new scientific results are spread though blogs, institutional repositories, open access journals and open access monographs. How can we then measure the scientific performance?

The Swedish School of Library and Information Science and Chalmers Library arrange a half-day seminar on bibliometrics and scientific publishing on May 23rd in Gothenburg. Professor Blaise Cronin from the School of Library and Information Science, Indiana University, USA will be talking about the changing conditions of scientific communication and Gustaf Nelhans from the University of Gothenburg and the University of Borås will talk about impact and indicators in the humanities and social sciences. The seminar will end with a panel discussion where the two previously named men will be accompanied by Ulf Cronman, the coordinator for, Tore Lund, biblometrician at Chalmers and Mats Viberg, first vice president at Chalmers University of Technology.

The seminar is open for all staff and students at the University of Borås but you have to RSVP by 11 May to

Read more about the programme for Bibliometrics at the Crossroads.

First published in Biblioteksbloggen 2012-04-12

By: Pieta Eklund