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Cornell Professor Found to Have Engaged in Academic Misconduct Resigns

September 21, 2018
 
 

Cornell University on Thursday announced that Brian Wansink, John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing, resigned and has been removed from all teaching and research duties until that resignation takes effect at the end of the academic year. Wansink, who is accused of academic misconduct, will spend the rest of his time at Cornell cooperating with a review of his prior research, Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff said in a statement. This week, JAMA Network announced that it had retracted six articles that included Wansink as an author. Notices in two network publications said that JAMA had posted expressions of the concern about the validity of Wansink’s research in May and asked Cornell to conduct an independent evaluation. Cornell said in a response to JAMA that it did not have access to the original data and was unable to verify the studies’ validity.

Kotlikoff said in his statement that Cornell had been reviewing allegations of misconduct against Wansink for more than a year, and that a faculty committee found he had misreported research data, used problematic statistical techniques, failed to properly document and preserve research results, and engaged in “inappropriate authorship.” The findings were reviewed and upheld by the dean of the faculty, he said. Cornell "remains committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and we are reviewing our research policies to ensure we can meet this commitment.”

Wansink came under scrutiny after he published a 2016 blog post praising an unpaid researcher in his lab who “never said ‘no’” to mining data on behavior at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet for significant results, even when initial research questions failed to produce such results. Wansink, who saw a group of other papers retracted and corrected prior to JAMA’s most recent announcement, according to Retraction Watch, has previously defended his approach and his work. “I stand by and am immensely proud of the work done here at the lab,” he told BuzzFeed News earlier this year. “The Food and Brand Lab [at Cornell] does not use ‘low-quality data’, nor does it seek to publish ‘subpar studies.’”

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