Links

Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets

Link recommended by Srujana Lam

Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new “science-based” solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories. The beverage giant has teamed up with influential scientists who are advancing this message in medical journals, at conferences and through social media. To help the scientists get the word out, Coke has provided financial and logistical support to a new nonprofit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network, which promotes the argument that weight-conscious Americans are overly fixated on how much they eat and drink while not paying enough attention to exercise. Read more ...

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Controversial research: Good science bad science

Link recommended by Haley Nicole Smith

It sounds like a great idea: experimentally mutate a rare but deadly virus so that scientists can do a better job of recognizing dangerous emerging strains. But it also sounds like a terrible idea — the studies could create a virus that is easier to transmit and produce findings that are useful to bioterrorists. Last year's news that two research teams had done exactly that with the H5N1 bird flu virus was enough to spread fear around the globe and prompt a temporary moratorium on the work. A US biosecurity panel has since lifted its restrictions on publication of the teams' findings in Nature and Science, arguing that the work has clear potential benefits, that the modified virus seems to be less lethal than the original and that the data are already circulating in the community. But the episode has highlighted how thin the line can be between research that's a blessing and research that's a threat. Read more...

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Research integrity: Don't let transparency damage science

Link recommended by Eugene A Osae

Stephan Lewandowsky and Dorothy Bishop explain how the research community should protect its members from harassment, while encouraging the openness that has become essential to science Transparency has hit the headlines. In the wake of evidence that many research findings are not reproducible, the scientific community has launched initiatives to increase data sharing, transparency and open critique. As with any new development, there are unintended consequences. Many measures that can improve science — shared data, post-publication peer review and public engagement on social media — can be turned against scientists. Read more...

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Mental capacity to consent to research? Experiences of consenting adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autism to research

Link recommended by Madeleine Lu

Adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autism are often excluded from participating in health and healthcare research. Understanding study information, which is an important aspect of demonstrating capacity to give informed consent, can be a particular challenge. This study surveyed clinical researchers to discover: (i) their experiences of assessing mental capacity for research; (ii) what methods they used to facilitate the inclusion of adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autism; and (iii) their views about a proposal to develop new resources to facilitate mental capacity judgements with adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autism for informed consent for research.

Clinical researchers in North East England who conduct research with NHS patients with intellectual disabilities and/or autism were invited to participate in a 22-item self-completed semi-structured questionnaire survey, either online or on paper. Results: Twenty-one clinicians completed the survey (response rate 30.4%). Participants reported on 18 research studies which included people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism. In many studies people who lacked capacity to give informed consent were excluded, and often shortcuts were taken in judging capacity. Limited adaptations to support capacity were used. Respondents welcomed the proposal of developing assistive resources that could support capacity judgements and informed consent to research. Read more...

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