Psychology: The Rise of false-positive Findings

Posted: February 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: fraud, Research Data | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Psychology: The Rise of false-positive Findings

In the November 2011 Issue of Psychological Science, Joseph P. Simmons, Leif D. Nelson and Uri Simonsohn published an interesting article about the undisclosed flexibility in data collection, analysis, and reporting that leads to an increase of actual false-positive rates in psychology. The researchers stated that it is unacceptably easy to publish “statistically significant” evidence consistent with any hypothesis.

The major problem they found is what they call the “researcher degrees of freedom” – or to be more correct: the decisions researchers making within a research process: e.g. what observations should be included or rejected? How much data should be collected? Which control variables should be used?

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Nature Magazine: Massive Fraud at Dutch Universities

Posted: November 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: fraud | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Nature Magazine: Massive Fraud at Dutch Universities

The nature magazine reported that the famous Dutch psychologist Diederik Stapel had manipulated research data for years.

A Report [in Dutch] claimed that the prominent researcher of Tilburg University fabricated some of his eye-catching studies on social behaviour.

Actually at least 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals are in the focus of a committee that investigates the work of the  researcher.

The report says that Stapel often came up with a hypothesis and then designed an experiment to test it. Stapel took responsibility for collecting data and a few weeks later he produced a fictitious data file. In other cases Stapel received co-authorship after producing data he claimed to have collected previously that surprisingly exactly matched the needs of a colleague working on a study.

The data themselves were also curios the report mentioned: effects were large; missing data and outliers were rare; and hypotheses were rarely refuted.

Journals publishing Stapel’s papers did not question the omission of details about where the data came from.

In September Stapel was suspended from his position at Tilburg University – three young researchers had found irregulartities within his published data. An investigation followed – containing further papers and occupations in other universities, where Stapel worked prior to Tilburg University.

This is just another example that reflects the needs of publishing articels with their related research data. A task that is important for the quality of research as well as for the quality of scholarly journals.