I have a couple of personal policies that are kind of an FYI on my positions on specific professional matters and acts as a way for me to signpost people to an explanation for my expectations and beliefs related to my own profession conduct and that of fellow researchers. So far, these include:
1. “Fair Dealing” policy
It has come to my attention that previous research that I have conducted has been included in systematic reviews and meta-analyses. I fully support efforts to improve professional practice through the aggregation of prior relevant findings. I do, however, believe that such use should be proportionate, warranted, and defensible.
“Bad faith” meta-analyses – those with a questionably small n or k, with no discernible benefit to the literature, operations, or practice, that disproportionately replicate the conclusions of the original studies, and/or engage in unjustifiable salami-slicing of broader concepts – are unfair and unethical. Having watched citation counts for my own papers drop dramatically after being included in meta-analyses, I have decided to take action.
I no longer consider the use of data in meta-analysis by academic researchers to be an axiomatically “non-commercial” activity, since academia has woven metrics of “influence” (citations, h-indexes, altmetrics, etc) into the fabric of faculty hiring and promotion. The career prospects and earning potential of early- and mid-career academics are at least to some extent linked to their ability to demonstrate individual “impact” in their field of choice via these types of metrics.
In light of this, I have decided to take legal action in the future against what I believe to be unfair use of original data in which I have a stake being used in systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
The U.K. Copyright Office’s explanation of “fair dealing” under current copyright and intellectual property law provides the following overview of some factors that have been previously taken into account in fair use cases in the U.K.:
- Does using the work affect the market for the original work?
- If a use of a work acts as a substitute for it, causing the owner to lose revenue, then it is not likely to be fair
- Is the amount of the work taken reasonable and appropriate?
- Was it necessary to use the amount that was taken?
- Usually only part of a work may be used
- Does using the work affect the market for the original work?
The relative importance of any one factor will vary according to the case in hand and the type of dealing in question.”
Based on the explanation above, I will decide whether the meta-analysis of published original data in which I have a professional stake is “fair dealing” using the following criteria:
- That there has been a sufficient increase in published research activity between a proposed new analysis and any previous analyses or reviews to warrant that new analysis;
- That the original data has been in circulation for a minimum of 5 years before the new analysis is published and thus its influence in the academic “marketplace” is likely to have diminished;
- That the original data does not contribute greater than 10% of the total sample of the new analysis to ensure that the conclusions of the new analysis do not disproportionately replicate, and consequently act as a substitute for, the conclusions of the original data;
- That the researchers proposing the new study have themselves contributed an original study to the literature eligible for the new analysis and will therefore experience the same professional impact as a result of the new analysis as all other researchers concerned;
- That the new analysis is not part of a “cumulative” programme of analyses that is likely to concentrate influence towards one or more related researchers or labs and create a monopoly on intellectual authority;
- That the researchers conducting the new analysis contact me to explain the rationale for their analysis, their aims and objectives, and how the data will be used in their work.
If these criteria are not met I think it is defensible to suggest that the use of the original data is not reasonable or appropriate and is likely to act as a substitute for the original data, affecting the academic market for it. In those instances, I will contact the publisher to serve a “cease and desist” notice.
I might not be successful, but I’m 100% committed to taking action because I believe the status quo is unfair and untenable to researchers who spend the effort producing original research. I also believe if more academics take a stand against this form of research malpractice, it will encourage better research and incentivise original research rather than an endless stream of secondary analysis and review.
Last updated: January 1, 2019.
2. Social media policy
It has become clear to me, since I use social media as a professional tool, that I should clarify my policy on the way I use social media.
All of my social media accounts are personal. Nonetheless, I also use social media to discuss my professional work.
I encourage ALL and ANY thoughtful, respectful, commensurate, and amiable responses to anything I post to social media and do not consider any individuals or groups of individuals excluded from responding to my posts on social media.
I consider my personal and professional views to be open to constructive criticism.
I believe that social media is an open, transparent, wide-ranging – and ultimately an entirely appropriate – platform for debate on professional matters.
All of my social media accounts are personal. What I say on social media does not necessarily represent the views of the various individuals and organizations I am connected to. They speak for themselves, as do I. Also, not everything I post on social media is about my work either as a researcher or a psychologist. Contrary to opinion, I do have a personal life! And so my use is a balance of personal and professional sharing.
Nonetheless, I am a professional researcher. I do use social media as a way of disseminating my work and my professional views to those who appear to interested to engage with it (e.g., by following me on Twitter). My professional credentials and contact details are publicly available. I encourage ALL and ANY thoughtful, respectful, commensurate, and amiable responses to anything I post to social media. I do not consider any individuals or groups of individuals excluded from contacting me or responding to my posts on social media, especially where it relates to my work.
My current role as a researcher and psychologist involves the study of criminal behaviour. I have no prior or current criminal convictions and little interest in breaking any of the laws of the lands that I inhabit, now or in the future. This, however, does not mean that I unquestioningly agree with all laws and/or criminal justice processes and am unwilling to think or speak critically of those with which I disagree. This does mean that my professional views therefore do not stem from personal experience. They are a result of a combination of: (a) my personal interpretation of the existing evidence in that area or topic; (b) my personal interpretation of data of which I have been involved in the collection and/or analysis; or (c) practical knowledge gleaned from working directly with individuals who have personal experience of those behaviours and processes. Consequently, they are open to constructive criticism.
Thus, it is my belief that any individual who has personal experience of those behaviours, the consequences of those behaviours, and those criminal justice systems and processes, has every right to debate me – thoughtfully, respectfully, and amiably – on my work and on my views. I firmly believe in human rights for all – including for those whose behaviours or beliefs I find objectionable. To exclude or disregard the opinions of individuals who do not share my beliefs or who have engaged in the types of behaviour that form the basis of my professional work, or to expect those individuals to simply accept and agree with my interpretations of their behaviour, views, or experiences, would be the epitome of academic conceit. Silencing debate, or elements of a debate, is the antithesis of intellectual inquiry.
I believe that social media is an open, transparent, wide-ranging – and ultimately an entirely appropriate – platform for such debate; if that debate is thoughtful, respectful, and amiable. If it is possible for me to do so, I will happily engage in debate and defend my positions on statements that I make and views that I hold. I hope that those who do engage will find me approachable, tolerant, reflective, open-minded, if maybe a little opinionated and self-assured.
Last updated: July 18, 2014.