Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

“Invalid data” prompt retraction of another paper from psychologist Sanna

with 9 comments

The journal Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice is retracting a 2003 paper by psychologist Lawrence Sanna, who appears to have been fabricating his data. Sanna’s work, Retraction Watch readers may recall, came under the scrutiny of Uri Simonsohn, who also investigated Dirk Smeesters’ research.

Here’s the notice, which offers an impressive amount of back story as these things go:

Reports the retraction of “Mixed-motive conflict in social dilemmas: Mood as input to competitive and cooperative goals” by Lawrence J. Sanna, Craig D. Parks and Edward C. Chang (Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2003[Mar], Vol 7[1], 26-40). The following article from the March 2003 issue is being withdrawn at the request of the first author Lawrence J. Sanna, who stated that “the data were invalid”: Sanna, L. J., Parks, C. D., & Chang, E. C. (2003). The author provided no further statement other than to note that co-authors Craig D. Parks and Edward C. Chang were in no way responsible. Nature reported (July 12, 2012) that Uri Simonsohn had raised concerns about the data in the article with Sanna and his co-authors in the summer and fall of 2011, and the University of North Carolina, where the research had been conducted, formed a committee to investigate the concerns. The committee findings were never made public. However, Sanna resigned from his then current university, the University of Michigan, in May of 2012. The reason for his resignation was not made public.

The paper has been cited 20 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, and the retraction brings Sanna’s total to five by our count.

Written by amarcus41

September 24th, 2012 at 9:30 am

  • Bill Cohen September 24, 2012 at 9:46 am

    How useful it would be (although almost impossible?) if Thomson Scientific Web of Knowledge could send an email about the retraction to those who cite it. Thompson keeps a vast database of email addresses, but probably anything older than 3 years is not viable. Any reactions?

    • Guido September 25, 2012 at 7:17 am

      Interesting idea, but I think that would be rather inefficient. It is uncertain how many of the people who cite a retracted paper in their published work are still working on the same topic. Rather, I would think it’s more important that the publisher provides optimal transparency about the retraction to readers, so that anyone retrieving the paper (or the abstract) through any source can immediately see that it’s retracted.

      • Guido October 9, 2012 at 3:59 am

        On second thoughts, I wish to ‘retract’ the comment above. I initially thought that anyone working in a field would notice it if a paper was retracted when they download it, but in practice I guess most people (like me) keep old papers on file on their computers or in drawers and don’t download them again if they need them for a new project. So they would not necessarily notice it when one of these old papers is retracted. Therefore, I think that notifying people who cite retracted papers would be a good idea (provided that it’s feasible, of course)!

  • Neuroskeptic (@Neuro_Skeptic) September 24, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I really think people caught out for misconduct should be made to set the record straight properly. “Invalid data” could mean anything. Thanks to various media sources and Simonsohn’s paper, many of us know what we think it means, but a lot of the readers of Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice won’t be clued up.

    If these offenders were really remorseful, they would spell out exactly what they did, how, and why. That would go a little way to making up for their misconduct.

  • Otter September 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    When can we hope to see lewandowsky’s paper retracted?

  • Booker September 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    “University of North Carolina, where the research had been conducted, formed a committee to investigate the concerns. The committee findings were never made public”

    In my mind this is reprehensible. We can’t get serious on scientific fraud until institutions get serious about their role.

  • Francisco Nobrega September 24, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Dear Sirs

    Nothing about the lousy “paper” by Seralini about cancer causing GM corn ?



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