Another Victim of Suspicious Data

The researcher who raised questions about the studies by social psychologist Dirk Smeesters flags dodgy data from another scientist.

By | July 13, 2012

image: Another Victim of Suspicious Data stock.xchng, sachyn

Uri Simonsohn, a social psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has devised a statistical method that he says can detect scientific fraud by looking at the effect of removing extreme data from published analyses. He first raised questions about the work of the Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Dirk Smeesters, who resigned after an investigation found evidence of misconduct in two of his published papers. Now, Simonsohn has called out another researcher whose data raised red flags—this time for being too perfect: social psychologist Lawrence Sanna, formerly of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Sanna, who studied the psychological aspects of judgment, decision-making, and morality, resigned his professorship at the end of May following Simonsohn’s questions and a subsequent enquiry by the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where Sanna was previously employed, Nature reported. And according to a Journal of Experimental Social Psychology editor, Sanna recently requested the retraction of three of his papers.

Simonsohn told Nature he plans to submit the statistical techniques he used to identify the suspicious data in Smeesters’s and Sanna’s papers for publication next week. “Some people are concerned that this will damage psychology as a whole and the public will perceive an epidemic of fraud,” Simonsohn said. “I think that’s unfounded…. We in psychology are actually trying to fix things. It would be ironic if that led to the perception that we are less credible than other sciences are.”


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Avatar of: Ellen Hunt Phd

Ellen Hunt Phd

Posts: 1457

July 13, 2012

Trust me Dr. 
Simonsohn, your science is not less trustworthy than others. You should turn your fraud-o-scope on bioscience papers. Many have long remarked that gel images are just too good to be true. Etc. 

Of course, ORI has a 6 year statute of limitations. 

Avatar of: renuka


Posts: 1457

July 14, 2012

Guilty aor scapegoat?
Its rather queer how no one in the lab noticed that someting was amiss! Not even the mentor. We check and recheck, write and rewrite a paper so many times...must have been the same here, esp if they were submitting to such high profile journals. And to think that NO ONE noticed anything wrong ...not even once. Thats a bit too far-fetched.


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