Fact-checking research in the age of “fake news”
Congratulations to Professor Jennifer Byrne, head of the Children’s Cancer Research Unit at Kids Research, who has been successful in securing competitive grant funding from the US Office of Research Integrity.
The grant will fund continuing collaboration between Professor Byrne and Dr Cyril Labbé from the University of Grenoble Alpes in France, as they develop an algorithm, Seek & Blastn, to “fact-check” genetic reagents reportedly used in published experiments.
Dr Labbé is a computer scientist who first began collaborating on this project with Prof Byrne after she discovered a number of publications containing recurring errors in reported DNA sequences, which has since led to 15 retractions.
Their goal is to develop an automated system that journal editors could employ to check for errors in submitted papers and limit cases of academic misconduct.
“Published errors hold back research progress and translation. We are trying to reduce the source of some of these errors, particularly in the cancer research literature which is my field of expertise,” said Professor Byrne.
Her work in this area was acknowledged by Nature in their list of “10 people who mattered this year” for 2017.
You can catch Professor Jennifer Byrne speaking at the upcoming Sydney Ideas event "Is storytelling bad for science?" on Tuesday 31 July, 6pm at the University of Sydney.