Research Ethics Roundup: Service Dog Safety in Labs, the Cancellation of a Basic Income Study, and more

This edition of Research Ethics Roundup covers service dog safety in lab environments, standard of care in a sepsis trial, ethical considerations of cancelling a basic income study, and the resignation of a famed researcher after high-profile retractions.

Are Service Dogs Safe for Vivariums?
Unaddressed in both the Animal Welfare Act and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, there persists some question on whether and how it is safe for service animals such as guide dogs to exist in research laboratories alongside other species.

“Many laboratory animals, such as mice or rats, are prey species. In contrast, dogs are predators and may cause stress in research animals, which can alter research results.”

Trial by Fire: Critics Demand That a Huge Sepsis Study Be Stopped
A large trial of a treatment for sepsis has a range of detractors who say it should be halted immediately. At issue is the standard of care, which study opponents say is not being met for the human subjects.

“‘The human subjects of the Clovers trial, as designed and currently conducted, are unwitting guinea pigs in a physiology experiment,’ Dr. Michael Carome and Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe [of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group] wrote in their letter.”

Cancellation of Ontario’s basic income project sparks global outrage
Politics and research ethics have become entangled as Ontario’s early cancellation of a Universal Basic Income trial has prompted an outcry from some in the research ethics community, who claim the study’s cancellation unduly burdens subjects who planned their lives in anticipation of the income.

“’People made decisions about their lives. They made decisions to go back to school, rent larger apartments, do all kinds of things on the basis of the promise they would receive this funding for three years.’”

Cornell nutrition scientist resigns after retractions and research misconduct finding
Brian Wansink was responsible for many memorable studies, including iconic research about how the size of a serving vessel impacted food consumption. After a half dozen retractions last week and a recent flurry of media attention, he resigned from his position at Cornell University.

“Wansink contested the university’s conclusion in a statement shared with Science, saying, ‘The interpretation of these four acts of misconduct can be debated, and I did so for a year without the success I expected.’ He admitted to mistaken reporting, poor documentation, and ‘some statistical mistakes,’ but maintains that there was ‘no fraud, no intentional misreporting, no plagiarism, or no misappropriation’ in his work. ‘I believe all of my findings will be either supported, extended, or modified by other research groups,’ he added.”