Fmr. Leiden University researcher accused of fraud in 15 studies
Former Leiden University researcher Lorenza Colzato committed fraud in at least 15 scientific publications. The university concluded this in an investigation launched after the psychology lecturer was first accused of fraud in 2019, Omroep West reports.
In 2019, two of Colzato's publications were withdrawn after it was discovered that she had illegally taken blood from test subjects. There were also suspicions about dodgy grant applications and authors' names being removed from reports. Leiden University then decided to break ties with the Italian lecturer and conduct further research into her work. The university's Scientific Integrity Committee examined 53 of the 174 publications to Colzato's name.
The committee concluded that she committed fraud in at least 15 publications. The committee said that she made changes to the research design, added control groups afterward, and even omitted data. In seven cases, the committee recommended the university contact the journals that published the studies and request that they be withdrawn. Due to fraud, the conclusions presented are incorrect, or it's plausible to conclude that they are inaccurate. In the other eight cases, the fraud affected the results to a lesser extent, and the committee advised leaving it up to the journals to decide how they want to inform their readers about it.
According to the committee, a proper investigation was impossible in 27 articles because no data sets were available. They found no indications of fraud in the remaining publications.
A spokesperson for the university told Omroep West that they'd informed the involved journals of their findings. "It is up to the publishers to withdraw articles, not to us. This is usually preceded by the publishers' own research." The spokesperson stressed that Leiden University pays a lot of attention to scientific integrity. "It is brought to the attention of researchers in various ways, but we also tell students about it in education. We have a website about it. There is a committee, a special confidential advisor, and a Dutch code of conduct. For the university board, every violation of scientific integrity is one too many. That is clear."