Research Ethics Roundup: Scientific misconduct, reporting science, and more!

Is it October already? Time to break out those scarves and mittens! As you’re digging through the attic this weekend, be sure to take a break to catch up on some recent headlines. From investigations into scientific integrity, to using crowdsourcing for drug development, you won’t want to miss the articles featured in this week’s Research Ethics Roundup. 

Reporting science: Journalistic deficit disorder: A recent study has found that, of articles written in English-language newspapers during the 1990s relating to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the vast majority focused on only a handful of studies. Further studies examining the validity of these papers were rarely published, despite the fact that 80% were later proven to be “wrong or questionable.” These findings suggest that news sources may be contributing to a distorted perception of progress in scientific research.

New cures sought from old drugs: After Ionafarnib failed to effectively fight head and neck cancer—the disease it was originally designed to treat—researchers have found it to be successful at treating progeria, an unrelated illness. This success has inspired drug manufacturers to utilize crowdsourcing to search for alternative uses of failed drug compounds.

Seeking cures, patients enlist mice stand-ins: A new technique is allowing doctors to test the efficacy of several different drugs or doses simultaneously on a specific patient’s disease or immune system. The process involves transplanting the individual’s disease or immune system into several different mice, and then using the animals to test treatments before attempting them on the human subject.

Misconduct widespread in retracted science papers, study finds:
A new study has found that in 2011—a year that saw an unprecedented
rise in the number of retracted scientific papers—roughly three quarters
of the retractions analyzed could be attributed to misconduct.
According to one of the researchers, “the rising rate of retractions
reflects perverse incentives that drive scientists to make sloppy
mistakes or even knowingly publish false data.”