“Hausergate” and the perversion of peer review

It would seem that  Marc Hauser fudged or exaggerated or imagined or just plain made up some of the results in at least 3 papers which were published after peer review.

Predictably, Harvard is being very reticent with information but as reported by The Boston Globe the university has assured the world that all necessary corrections will be made. Harvard University confirmed yesterday that it has examined concerns about scientific work by prominent psychology professor Marc Hauser and said it has “taken steps to ensure that the scientific record is corrected’’ in three journal articles for which he was a coauthor.

Also predictably others at Harvard are rationalising and taking a sympathetic view. Greg Laden says: “I know Marc Hauser, and I trust him.”


Hauser himself is taking a year off as penance and to purge himself of his misconduct.

1. A 2002 paper published in the journal Cognition is being retracted by Hauser and two coauthors. The retraction notes that an internal Harvard examination found that the data do not support the findings.

The journal ( or is it magazine) and Elsevier need to now defend their editorial process. Who were the peers and what did they review?

2. Also called into question by the investigation is a 2007 paper in the journal Science. Ginger Pinholster, a spokeswoman for the journal, said that one of the coauthors — Justin Wood, a former graduate student at Harvard who now is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern California — wrote a letter to the journal in late June. According to Pinholster, the letter stated that an internal investigation at Harvard found there were missing field notes and that the team at Harvard had recreated its research as a result. Science has yet to make a formal change to the article.

Did the missing notes ever exist? Time for Science to open up.

3. A 2007 paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B has already been corrected, because of missing video records and field notes. Earlier this week, Victoria Millen, publishing editor of the British journal, confirmed that the authors contacted the journal last month and informed it of the investigation. The correction notes that incomplete video records and field notes were collected by “the researcher who performed the experiments,’’ a scientist named David Glynn, who has not responded to multiple e-mail and voicemail messages.

Hausergate and Climategate and all its associated “gates” show that the peer review process is sufficiently perverted and corrupted that it needs an overhaul. It is time for the assenting and dissenting peers to stand up and be counted and not hide behind the skirts of anonymous independance.

The Harvard statement said that in cases like Hauser’s, Harvard reports its findings to federal funding agencies, which do their own reviews.

But Harvard cannot pass the buck.

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2 Responses to ““Hausergate” and the perversion of peer review”

  1. Marc Hauser’s apologists are getting organised « The k2p blog Says:

    […] Earlier posts have described a Harvard investigation led by the Dean of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith which found Marc Hauser responsible for eight counts of scientific misconduct. Hauser has been “sentenced” to “book leave” for the year. […]

  2. Hausergate: In scientific misconduct “confirmation bias” or “fudging data” are equally corrupt « The k2p blog Says:

    […] The Scientific American carries an article about the Marc Hauser case at Harvard. (Marc Hauser was found to have committed 8 cases of scientific misconduct). […]

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