New case of scientific fraud

In a previous Math Drudge blog, we mentioned the increasing number of instances of scientific fraud. We also noted how in many cases, mathematical and statistical methods have been utilized to uncover this fraud.

In November 2011, Netherlands psychologist Diederik Stapel was accused of publishing “several dozen” articles with falsified data. For example, one article claimed that disordered environments such as littered streets make people more prone to stereotyping and discrimination. After being accused of massive fraud in Science, Stapel confessed that the allegations were largely correct.

Now another Netherlands social scientist is in hot water. Some clever statistical analysis by “an anonymous fraud hunter in the United States” has led to the resignation of a marketing researcher at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

As Science Now reports, Professor Dirk Smeesters conceded that he had “massaged” the data in some of his papers to “strengthen” their outcomes, “while defending his actions as common in his field.” Among other things, the report seems certain to further shake confidence in the field of social psychology.

This case, and the fact that it was uncovered by some clever statistical analysis, bolster the need to examine even more thoroughly, using state-of-the-art analytical techniques, many results produced in scientific research. How many more cases will be uncovered?

[Added 14 Sep 2012] An article in the U.K. Guardian has drawn attention to increasing numbers of reports of scientific fraud, and also in retractions of scientific research. In one recent case highlighted in the article, a social psychologist at Erasmus University in Rotterdam has admitted “massaging” the data in some of his papers. Other cases and additional details are presented in the UK Guardian article.

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