Wed 8th July 2020
Researchers Behaving Badly
Prof David Vaux,
Former Deputy Director Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI).
The second “Alum-inar” was well attended with more than 50 members and guests from around Australia and overseas joining via Zoom for an excellent talk by Professor Vaux which was hosted by Ruth Wraith (President of RCH Alumni) and introduced by Garry Warne (Secretary of the Alumni). The talk highlighted several significant errors in the reporting of many research studies. His efforts to point out such “mistakes” (in some cases very probably deliberate) to journal editors and authors were often met with long delays in obtaining any response and an unwillingness to acknowledge that any error had been made. Most authors were unwilling to agree that there were significant mistakes in the way that their data was presented or in the accuracy of their findings. Some of the figures in papers appeared to have been reproduced more than once (copied) as illustrations of different results – although careful examination showed them to be identical.
He strongly urged members to lobby for the establishment of a National Office for Research Integrity, which Australia does not have at this time so many cases are handled poorly and may be “swept under the carpet”.
The USA, UK, China and most European countries have Offices for Research Integrity (ORIs). ORIs collect data and provide training. They may also act as an avenue for appeal.