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Harvard professor studying honesty accused of fabricating data

Harvard professor studying honesty accused of fabricating data

Francesca Gino has been accused of creating false results in numerous studies over the course of a decade

A prominent Harvard Business School professor who studied honesty has been accused of creating false results in papers on behavioral science studies.

Should this be a new lyric in Alanis Morissette's 'Ironic'?

News of the accusations against Francesca Gino began to emerge on 16 June, when the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Max Bazerman, co-author of one of Gino's papers, claimed to have been told by Harvard that one of her studies had falsified results.

Scientists have claimed that fraud is evident in four papers.

The paper in question was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences before later being retracted, and involved an experiment which asked participants to fill out tax and insurance paperwork.

An abstract for the study, which was overseen by Gino, explained: “Many written forms required by businesses and governments rely on honest reporting. Proof of honest intent is typically provided through signature at the end of, eg, tax returns or insurance policy forms."

The study tested a method to discourage dishonesty on such forms by signing at the beginning instead of at the end, and claimed to have found that those who signed at the beginning were more honest.

Francesca Gino is an award-winning researcher.
Harvard Business School

However, Bazerman has since alleged that Harvard provided him with a 14-page document which included 'compelling evidence' of data falsification, including someone having accessed a database before adding and altering data in the file.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has noted that Gino had previously told a co-author that a lab manager had collected the data.

Bazerman has insisted he didn't have anything to do with the falsified results.

One day after the Chronicle's report, a blog called DataColoda, which is run by three behavioral science academics, shared a series of posts which claimed that the falsified data wasn't limited to one paper.

The posts alleged fraud in four academic papers, all of which were co-authored by Gino over the course of a decade.

Francesca Gino is a professor of business administration.

The three scientists behind the posts wrote: "In the fall of 2021, we shared our concerns with Harvard Business School.

"Specifically, we wrote a report about four studies for which we had accumulated the strongest evidence of fraud. We believe that many more Gino-authored papers contain fake data. Perhaps dozens."

The scientists have also claimed that the original data files would provide 'airtight evidence of fraud'.

Gino hasn't publicly responded to the allegations at the time of writing (26 June), though her profile for Harvard Business School says she is currently on administrative leave.

A man who identified himself as Gino’s husband told The New York Times: “It’s obviously something that is very sensitive that we can’t speak to now.”

One of the scientists who worked on papers with Gino has told The Times he is now reviewing the studies.

Harvard Business School has declined to comment on the matter at this time.

UNILAD has reached out to Gino for comment.

Featured Image Credit: Harvard Business School/AevanStock/Shutterstock

Topics: Science, Crime, US News