Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 11:26
UvA prof caught manipulating data
A scientific article from professor of social psychology Jens Förster of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and his colleague Markus Denzler has to be pulled due to the manipulation of research data. This decision was made by the UvA on the advice of the National Scientific Integrity Organ (LOWI), NRC Handelsblad reports. The anonymized decision does not give the names of Förster and Denzler. NRC Handelsblad knows the name because of a complaint, which is in the hands of the paper. In 2012, the UvA launched an integrity commission after a complaint came in about two of Förster's articles from 2009 and 2011, and one article from 2012 which Förster collaborated on with Denzler. According to the complaint, the odds of achieving such clean results is one in a million. It was quite extraordinary to see none of the 2,284 participants pulling out of the experiment, except with psychological experiments. The person who made the complaint asked Förster for raw data of the study from 2012, but she could not discuss these. The integrity commission, under presidency of professor of Law Ton Hol from Utrecht, advised a 'letter of concern' be penned in the magazines that published the three articles, that would voice doubts about the research. The person who complained decided this was not enough and appealed to the LOWL The UvA published their decision on the university association VSNU website about the article published in Social Psychological and Personality Science in 2012: "The conclusion that there must have been manipulation with research data will be inescapably considered [...] On these grounds, and with that on grounds of inadequate justification from the data collection and from the original data, there is a possibility of violation of scientific integrity." There is no information on the website on a decision about the other two articles, even though the person who complained noted similar patterns. The board of directors of the UvA has not yet imposed a sanction on Förster. He will be appointed to the Ruhr-University of Bochum per 1 June 2014 for five years as 'Humboldt-professor' with a grant of €5 million. It is unknown if this case will have consequences for this professor. Förster and Denzler have not reacted to questions.