Journal editor’s conclusion: Hauser fabricated data

From Carolyn Johnson at the Globe. This is quite a blow.

Gerry Altmann, the editor of the journal Cognition, which is retracting a 2002 article in which Hauser is the lead author, said that he had been given access to information from an internal Harvard investigation related to that paper. That investigation found that the paper reported data that was not present in the videotape record that researchers make of the experiment.

“The paper reports data … but there was no such data existing on the videotape. These data are depicted in the paper in a graph,” Altmann said. “The graph is effectively a fiction and the statistic that is supplied in the main text is effectively a fiction.”

Jeff Neal, a spokesman for Harvard, said in an e-mail, “We are pleased that we have worked directly and effectively with the editors of the effected journals, including Cognition, to ensure that the scientific record is fully corrected. We will continue to be available to work with journal editors to accomplish this important goal.”

Hauser did not immediately respond to an e-mail.

Last week, the university’s dean of arts and sciences confirmed that Hauser was found solely responsible for eight instances of scientific misconduct, involving three published papers and five additional experiments. The letter did not specify the issues for each experiment.

“There were problems involving data acquisition, data analysis, data retention, and the reporting of research methodologies and results,” dean Michael D. Smith wrote in a letter.

“If it’s the case the data have in fact been fabricated, which is what I as the editor infer, that is as serious as it gets,” Altmann said.

Altmann’s right. It doesn’t really get any worse than data fabrication. And short of court or the university, it can hardly get worse than to have that conclusion reached by the editor of a major journal — someone with cred to protect, a lot of experience, and a privileged look at the data in question. This is an electrifying indictment.

See also (in order they appeared here):

Marc Hauser, monkey business, and the sine waves of science

Hauser update: Report done since JANUARY

Updated: This Hauser thing is getting hard to watch

Hauser & Harvard speak; labmates & collaborators cleared

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