Harvard professor studying ‘honesty’ for a living charged with fraud and falsifying results

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Harvard professor studying 'honesty' for a living charged with fraud and falsifying results

Francesca Gino, a renowned Harvard Business School (HBS) professor known for her research on honesty and behavioral sciences, finds herself at the center of a scandal as data fraud allegations have surfaced against her.

Serious allegations have surfaced in recent weeks suggesting Gino falsified results in multiple behavioral science studies and raising concerns about the integrity of his research.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, in a report published June 16, highlighted claims made by Max Bazerman, an HBS professor and co-author of a paper published with Gino in 2012.

Bazerman revealed that Harvard University had informed him of suspicions about the validity of the results in one of the studies Gino supervised.

The allegations against Gino have shocked the academic community, given the tongue-in-cheek nature of his research focus on honesty and ethical behavior.

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The allegations cast doubt on the credibility of his work and raise questions about the rigor of the scientific process within the field of behavioral sciences.

Harvard University has not released an official statement about the allegations against Gino. However, the institution is expected to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the veracity of the claims and their potential impact on the affected studies.

The retracted article focuses on findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It centers around an experiment that asks participants to fill out tax and insurance paperwork.

“Many written forms required by businesses and governments are based on honest reporting. Proof of honest intent is usually provided through a signature at the end of, say, tax returns or insurance policy forms. Still , people sometimes cheat to further their financial interests on a large scale.” cost to society. We tried an easy-to-implement method to discourage dishonesty: signing at the beginning rather than the end of a self-report, thus reversing the order of current practice.” reading the abstract of the article.

The study claimed that participants who signed truth statements at the top of the page displayed more excellent honesty than those who signed them at the bottom.

According to Max Bazerman’s report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Harvard University shared a 14-page document containing “compelling evidence” of data falsification. The evidence included the disclosure that an individual accessed a database and made additions and alterations to the data file.

He strongly denied involvement in the alleged data manipulation, telling the Chronicle: “I had nothing to do with the manufacturing.”


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Following this, three behavioral science academics who run the DataColada blog published several posts offering extensive evidence of fraud in four academic papers that Gino co-authored.

The blog authors highlighted their discovery of fraudulent practices spanning more than a decade, including recently published articles in 2020.

They expressed their concerns to Harvard Business School in the fall of 2021, presenting a report detailing the most substantial evidence of fraud in four studies. Academics believe that many more articles written by Gino may contain fabricated data, possibly dozens.

The academics acknowledged that Harvard had access to more information, including the original data collected through the Qualtrics survey software.

They noted that if the fraud involved tampering with downloaded data files while collecting accurate data at Qualtrics, the original Qualtrics files would serve as strong evidence. Conversely, if your concerns were unfounded, the Qualtrics files would provide evidence of your misguided concerns.

The academics clarified that, to their knowledge, none of Gino’s co-authors were involved or assisted in data collection for the studies in question. Gino’s HBS profile indicates that he is currently on administrative leave.

A man who identified himself as Gino’s husband declined to comment when contacted by The New York Times, citing the sensitivity of the situation.

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