Science 9 May 2014:
Vol. 344 no. 6184 pp. 566-567
DOI:10.1126/science.344.6184.566
News & Analysis

Fresh Misconduct Charges Hit Dutch Social Psychology

Frank van Kolfschooten | 4 Comments

Data in the research of Jens Förster were manipulated, a Dutch national scientific integrity panel concludes.

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'The calculations in the complaint, hard to follow for an average reader […]'

An easily understandable account is given here: http://datacolada.org/2014/05/08/21-fake-data-colada/

Submitted on Fri, 05/09/2014 - 11:15

It is sad to see even the circumstance again--holding any absolute final judgement aside for the moment. We have recently gone through this here in Japan with the STAP paper's primary author. I am one who wishes to encourage proper conduct in the discipline and academic settings which should--one would surely want to think--be fitting for scientific-methodology with the common good of humankind in mind.

At the same time, I tend to think that we do need to perhaps bolster proper 'checks' to help prevent, or at least greatly reduce such, as well as plagiarism. (And there are some, of course, but perhaps a more 'real time' concept is needed?)

I recall an article somewhile back in 'Nature' which tended to suggest that there can be "fair" whistleblowing. A fairly recent article in another magazine (I think 'Scientific American, but don't trust my recall on that please) suggested that whistleblowing did not pay off for the individual whistleblower directly. However, whistleblowing is not a means to gain fame, or profit, rather, it is a bit of a way to help keep things fitting for the academic and professional discipline we generally think of when we use the word 'science.'

This event is sad to learn of, but at the same time, in some paradoxical manner (perhaps), it is good to see that 'checks' are in place, and, hopefully working 'cleanly' themselves.

Submitted on Thu, 05/08/2014 - 22:31

The evidence leaves no room for other than the conclusion that fraud was conducted.

Besides the statistical evidence (some of which is nicely explained at http://datacolada.org/2014/05/08/21-fake-data-colada/) there are several methodological indicators for something highly unusual going on: - not a single case of missing data in more than 2200 questionnaires answered by undergraduates, - not a single case of dropout, - all of the participants reported they did not express awareness of the deceit used in the experiments, - almost identical patterns in several dozen experiments.

According to the accused, many research assistants were involved in collecting data in the many experiments, and most of them were blind to the hypotheses. The data supposedly were collected over several years at different universities. Thus it is impossible to explain the data by fraudulent behavior of research assistants and leaves Jens Förster as the only likely suspect.

Submitted on Thu, 05/08/2014 - 20:51

It is a crime and should be punished by prison time.

Submitted on Thu, 05/08/2014 - 15:17