lawsuits settled (#16-43
- November 20, 2016)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced that Donald J. Trump has agreed to pay $25 million to settle three lawsuits which charged that he had misrepresented the nature and value of real estate courses offered by Trump University. The settlement includes payment of $21 million to settle two California class-action suits and $4 million to New York State to be used to (a) reimburse former students who were not parties to the class-action suits and (b) if funds remain, to pay up to $1 million for costs and/or penalties for Trump University's failure to obtain a license from the New York's Education Department. Trump admitted no liability, but Schneiderman's press release minced no words:
In 2013, my office sued Donald Trump for swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of millions of dollars through a scheme known as Trump University. Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeals and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university. Today, that all changes. Today's $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university. Credential Watch has additional details and links to the documents in all three lawsuits.
NAS report addresses
concerns about research integrity (#17-24 - June 18, 2017)
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has published a report that expresses concern about research integrity and proposed measures that would protect it. The report states:
- A growing body of evidence indicates that substantial percentages of published results in some fields are not reproducible.
- While a certain level of irreproducibility due to unknown variables or errors is a normal part of research, data falsification and detrimental research practices, such as inappropriate use of statistics or after-the-fact fitting of hypotheses to previously collected data, also play a role.
- New forms of detrimental research practices are appearing, such as predatory journals that do little or no editorial review or quality control of papers while charging authors substantial fees.
- The number of retractions of journal articles has increased, with a significant percentage due to research misconduct.
- Practices that have until now been categorized as "questionable"-for example, misleading use of statistics that falls short of falsification, and failure to retain research data-should be recognized as "detrimental" practices.
- Detrimental practices should be understood to include not only actions of individual researchers but also irresponsible or abusive actions by research institutions and journals.
- Research institutions and federal agencies should ensure that good faith whistleblowers-those who raise concerns about the integrity of research - are protected and that their concerns are addressed in a fair, thorough, and timely manner.
- Research sponsors, publishers, and federal funding agencies should ensure that the information needed for knowledgeable persons to reproduce the reported results is made available at the time of publication or as soon as possible after that.
- Researchers should routinely disclose all statistical tests carried out, including negative findings. Available evidence indicates that scientific publications are biased against presenting negative results and that the publication of negative results is on the decline. But routine reporting of negative findings will help avoid unproductive duplication of research and make research spending more productive.
- Scientific societies and journals should develop clear disciplinary authorship standards based on the principle that those who have made a significant intellectual contribution are authors. Universal condemnation by all disciplines of gift or honorary authorship, coercive authorship, and ghost authorship would also contribute to changing the culture of research environments where these practices are still accepted.
To bring a unified focus to addressing challenges in fostering research integrity across all disciplines and sectors, the report urges the establishment of a nonprofit, independent Research Integrity Advisory Board. The RIAB could facilitate the exchange of information on approaches to assessing and creating environments of the highest integrity and to handling allegations of misconduct and investigations. The report - Fostering Research Integrity - can be accessed online free of charge or ordered from the Academies Web site, which also has a video of the briefing that announced the report.
journal" critic speaks out again (#17-24 - June 18, 2017)
Jeffrey Beall, who was the first person to study what he called "predatory journals," has emerged from a 5-month silence. Predatory publishers use an author-pay open-access model and aim to generate as much revenue as possible, often foregoing proper peer review. In 2012, Beall launched a blog titled Scholarly Open Access that listed predatory publishers and journals and offered critical commentary on scholarly open-access publishing. In January 2017, facing intense pressure from his employer (University of Colorado Denver) and fearing for his job, he removed the content from his Web site. [Beall J. What I learned from predatory publishers. Biochemia Medica 27:273-279, 2017] His recent article traces the history of open access publication, the rise of predatory journals, and the opposition he received from authors, publishers, and-to his surprise-academic librarians. It also warns:
I think predatory publishers pose the biggest threat to science since the Inquisition. They threaten research by failing to demarcate authentic science from methodologically unsound science, by allowing for counterfeit science, such as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to parade as if it were authentic science, and by enabling the publication of activist science. . . .
CAM is really taking off, and it's being largely fueled by pay-to-publish journals, though a few subscription journals have gotten in on the action as well. Predatory journals and even journals from legitimate publishers are legitimatizing this unscientific medical research in the public's eye. Acupuncture and homeopathy are thriving, and numerous "studies" are being published each year to back up their effectiveness claims. In medicine, demarcation is failing, and there's no longer a clear line where legitimate medical research ends and unsound medical research begins. More questionable medical research is being published now than ever before in history, including bogus research promoting fake medicines and nutraceuticals. There's no longer a clear separation between the authentic and counterfeit medical research, even though medical research is the most important research for humankind today. Indeed, of all human endeavors, what surpasses medical research in importance, value, and universal benefit?
Although the Scholarly Open Access Web site no longer contains Beall's lists, the Internet Archive has preserved them.