Scientists Want Details on Harvard Misconduct Probe

August 12, 2010

Some scientists are calling on Harvard University to release details on a lengthy misconduct probe that has led to the retraction of a major paper by Marc Hauser, a prominent psychologist at the university, The Boston Globe reported. While scientists praise the university for conducting what appears to have been a thorough inquiry, they say that science depends on having full information about which parts of published research can be trusted. Harvard says that reviews of faculty conduct are confidential, that relevant findings are shared only with external funding agencies and that corrections are made in journals. But some say that's not enough. “In science, even the hint of a pattern of unreliable data is very disturbing. Science operates on the assumption everything is sound; everyone is playing according to the rules,’’ David Premack, an emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Globe. “Before making a judgment, one has to have all the facts. The institution has to be entirely forthcoming. Any withholding of information, or even suggestion of it adds to the suspicion. It’s absolutely the wrong thing to do. Just tell the story.’’

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