Category: Research Ethics

University students are buying assignments – what could, or should, be done about it?

‘Contract cheating’, whereby students pay companies to complete assignments on their behalf, threatens to seriously undermine higher education standards. Philip M. Newton and Michael J. Draper consider what might be done to tackle this issue, including the Quality Assurance Agency’s suggestion of deploying the UK Fraud Act (2006). While questions remains as to whether the Fraud Act is likely to […]

Manipulating the peer review process: why it happens and how it might be prevented

Peer review continues to be upheld as the best way to evaluate academic research ahead of publication. Yet the peer review process has been consistently targeted and manipulated by authors, reviewers and even editors. Sneha Kulkarni reveals how this is happening and what might be done to prevent it, considering the merits of different peer review models but also the […]

“Tenure can withstand Twitter”: We need policies that promote science communication and protect those who engage.

In the age of social media, the professor’s podium has expanded. Cassidy R. Sugimoto argues, so too must our policies on science communication and academic freedom. Academic freedom is a right for unfettered freedom to research, but also with an obligation to disseminate that research. Twitter and other social media can be used to fulfill this obligation. What we need now […]

Political History in the Digital Age: The challenges of archiving and analysing born digital sources.

The vast bulk of source material for historical research is still paper-based. But this is bound to change. Dr Helen McCarthy considers the lessons from the Mile End Institute’s conference on Contemporary Political History in the Digital Age. The specific challenges of using a ‘born digital source’ is an area that requires considerable attention. For political historians, the advent of ‘e-government’ […]

Credit where credit is due: Research parasites and tackling misconceptions about academic data sharing

Benedikt Fecher and Gert G. Wagner look at a recent editorial which faced considerable criticism for typecasting researchers who use or build on previous datasets as “research parasites”. They argue that the authors appear to miss the point, not only of data sharing, but of scientific research more broadly. But as problematic as the editorial may be, it points to a […]

High prices to access scholarly research could drive developing country researchers to use pirate websites like SciHub.

Developing countries are investing more in research and higher education and it should be no surprise that publishers are building commercial relationships to expand access and services. But prices are often still too high. Jonathan Harle argues now is a good time for the research community to reflect on what we can do to bring the cost of access down. If we don’t, […]

Write As If You Don’t Have the Data: The benefits of a free-writing phase.

When researchers reach the point of actually writing up their analyses, the writing can often centre around the data itself. Howard Aldrich argues this kind of “data first” strategy to writing goes against the spirit of disciplined inquiry and also severely limits creativity and imagination. Literature reviews and conceptual planning phases in particular would benefit if researchers explored the range of ideas associated […]

The Next Decade of Data Science: Rethinking key challenges faced by big data researchers

The vast availability of digital traces of unprecedented form and scale has led many to believe that we are entering a new data revolution. Will these new data sources and tools allow us to improve business processes in transformative ways? Vyacheslav Polonski argues that the more data is available, the more theory is needed to know what to look for and how […]

Book Review: Research Justice: Methodologies for Social Change

In the collection Research Justice: Methodologies for Social Change, edited by Andrew J. Jolivette in collaboration with the US non-profit organisation DataCenter: Research for Justice, a number of authors consider how researchers can contribute to the struggle for social justice through their research methodologies. While Helen Kara would have welcomed more reflection on the possible limitations of methodologies designed to […]

Research in the age of mass surveillance: Finding an ethical consensus over new digital visual research methods.

With digital recording devices now widely available, the power and functionality of these tools may far outstrip what is strictly required for research purposes. Tze Ming Mok looks at some of the specific ethical research conundrums emerging with the use of first-person visual recording devices. Researchers cannot afford to ignore these ethical challenges. The fundamental principles of research ethics frameworks still stand, and are becoming ever more […]