Skip main navigation

Diederick Stapel is accused of research fraud: A New York Times article

New York Times article about fraud committed by Diederik Stapel.
Photograph of Diederik Stapel.
© Center for Effective Global Action
In 2011, an investigation uncovered a decade of fraudulent work committed by one prominent psychologist, Diederik Stapel, former dean of the Social and Behavior Sciences faculty at Tilburg University at the time. The investigation led to his resignation and a formal apology to the scientific community. In a publicized statement, he said “I have failed as a scientist and researcher,” and “I feel ashamed for it and have great regret.”
This New York Times article, published shortly after his resignation, discusses how Stapel was able to get away with publishing fraudulent research for so long, as well as growing recognition in the scientific community that a culture of competition and needs to publish incentivizes researchers to cut corners:
“In a survey of more than 2,000 American psychologists scheduled to be published this year, Leslie John of Harvard Business School and two colleagues found that 70 percent had acknowledged, anonymously, to cutting some corners in reporting data. About a third said they had reported an unexpected finding as predicted from the start, and about 1 percent admitted to falsifying data.
Also common is a self-serving statistical sloppiness. In an analysis published this year, Dr. Wicherts and Marjan Bakker, also at the University of Amsterdam, searched a random sample of 281 psychology papers for statistical errors. They found that about half of the papers in high-end journals contained some statistical error, and that about 15 percent of all papers had at least one error that changed a reported finding — almost always in opposition to the authors’ hypothesis.”
Most would agree that the issue of fraud is black and white; it is always wrong regardless of context or motive. Revising hypotheses after data analysis and reporting selectively, however, may seem to fall more in an ethically gray area. But these are slippery slopes.
As you read this article and go through the rest of this course, ask yourself: Why is it so important to be transparent about data collection, analysis, and reporting from the beginning to the end of a study?
Please read the entire article here.
Carey, Benedict. 2011. “Noted Dutch Psychologist, Stapel, Accused of Research Fraud.” The New York Times, November 2, sec. Health / Research.
© Center for Effective Global Action
This article is from the free online

Transparent and Open Social Science Research

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education