Research Ethics Roundup: New Data Authorship System Proposed, San People’s New Code of Research Ethics, More Details on Proposed NIH Cuts, and Revisiting Handling of Lab Mice

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup reviews how experts think data sharing can be accelerated with data authorship attribution, how southern Africa’s San people are combatting exploitative research, the President’s plan for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, and a better way to transport laboratory mice.

Data Authorship as an Incentive to Data Sharing
In this New England Journal of Medicine piece, PRIM&R Board of Directors members Barbara E. Bierer and Heather H. Pierce propose a new form of research attribution. To incentivize data sharing but also to acknowledge the work of the original researcher’s contributions, Bierer and Pierce propose that “data authors” be listed as such in peer-reviewed articles. Currently, the research community has not systematically implemented a standard form to credit those who generate data.

The Ethics of Research: How to End the Exploitation of Vulnerable Communities
Kate Chatfield reports for The Conversation about the San people’s new code of research ethics. The community, based in southern Africa, has cited their concern about researchers’ non-transparent methods and failure to respect their culture. The new code is designed in part to address the problem of “ethics dumping,” where researchers from countries with more stringent research regulations choose to engage in ethically questionable research in countries with weaker regulations.

Trump Wants 2018 NIH Cut to Come From Overhead Payments
In this Science article, Jocelyn Kaiser finds that President Trump’s proposed budget cuts for NIH will focus on overhead costs at research institutions including universities. Tom Price, the new Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, told a U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations subcommittee that the President was interested in reducing the amount of grant money used for indirect expenses. Research institutions argue that the indirect cost payments cover people who manage the grants and that this area is already under-funded.

Handling of Lab Mice Affects Welfare, Research Results, Study Says
In this ALN Magazine article, Elizabeth Doughman reports on a recently published study that finds both the welfare of lab mice and results of research are improved when researchers use a tunnel to handle the mice rather than picking them up by their tail. A team of British researchers found that when mice were transferred through a custom-designed tunnel, the mice were more responsive during cognitive tests. The findings are in line with past research that shows there is a connection between the welfare of laboratory animals and the reliability of research data.