Harvard prof. who studies honesty accused of falsifying results
Francesca Gino, a well-known Harvard Business School professor, is accused of falsified results in an ironic scandal.
A Harvard professor who studies honesty is ironically accused of falsifying results in behavioral science studies.
Francesca Gino is a well-known professor at Harvard Business School (HBS) and is accused of forged results in multiple studies.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Max Bazerman, an HBS professor and co-author who published a paper with Gino in 2012, Harvard notified him that one of the research overseen by Gino used fabricated data.
The research in question is based on data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which were later retracted, and revolves around an experiment in which participants were required to fill out tax and insurance papers.
According to the paper's abstract, “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. Still, people sometimes cheat to advance their financial self-interests at great costs to society. We test an easy-to-implement method to discourage dishonesty: signing at the beginning rather than at the end of a self-report, thereby reversing the order of the current practice."
The research claimed to have revealed that individuals who signed honesty declarations at the top of the page were more honest than those who signed declarations at the bottom of the page.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Bazerman stated that the institution supplied a 14-page document with "compelling evidence" of data fabrication, such as the revelation that someone entered a database and added and changed data in the file. He went on to deny any role in the alleged data fabrication, explicitly stating he had no role in it.
A day later, three behavioral science academics from DataColada published a four-part set of blogs detailing considerable evidence of the alleged fraud in four scholarly publications co-authored by Gino.
The blog authors, ESADE Business School’s Uri Simonsohn, University of California, Berkeley’s Leif Nelson, and University of Pennsylvania’s Joseph Simmons, explained that the fraud uncovered spanned "over a decade, including papers published quite recently (in 2020)."
The statement added that they shared their concerns with HBS in 2021, and submitted a report about four studies in which they "accumulated the strongest evidence of fraud. We believe that many more Gino-authored papers contain fake data. Perhaps dozens."
“We understand that Harvard had access to much more information than we did, including, where applicable, the original data collected using Qualtrics survey software. If the fraud was carried out by collecting real data on Qualtrics and then altering the downloaded data files, as is likely to be the case for three of these papers, then the original Qualtrics files would provide airtight evidence of fraud. (Conversely, if our concerns were misguided, then those files would provide airtight evidence that they were misguided)."
According to the researchers, none of Gino's co-authors performed or aided with data collecting for the experiments in dispute.
Gino is now on administrative leave, according to her HBS profile and her husband has told the New York Times that they are not ready to speak just yet due to the sensitivity of the situation.