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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Diederik Stapel notches retractions 29, 30, and 31

with 16 comments

Diederik Stapel has three more retractions, making 31.

The most recent three we’ve found all appear in the European Journal of Social Psychology:

  1. The following article from the European Journal of Social Psychology, “It’s all in the timing: Measuring emotional reactions to stereotype threat before and after taking a test” by Marx, D. M., and Stapel, D. A., published online on 18 May 2006 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the first author, the journal Editor in Chief, Tom Postmes, and John Wiley and Sons Ltd. The retraction has been agreed upon following the results of an investigation into the work of Diederik A. Stapel (https://www.commissielevelt.nl/). The Levelt Committee has determined that there were strong indications that this article contained data that were fabricated by Diederik A. Stapel. The first author was unaware of his actions and not in any way involved.
  2. The following article from European Journal of Social Psychology, “When different is better: Performance following upward comparison” by Camille S. Johnson and Diederik A. Stapel, published online on 18 August 2006 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the co-author, the journal Editor in Chief, Tom Postmes, and John Wiley and Sons Ltd. The retraction has been agreed following the results of an investigation into the work of Diederik A. Stapel (https://www.commissielevelt.nl/). The Levelt Committee has determined that this article contained data that was fabricated by Diederik A. Stapel. His co-author was unaware of his actions, and not in any way involved.
  3. The following article from the European Journal of Social Psychology, “Staff, miter, book, share: how attributes of Saint Nicholas induce normative behavior” by Janneke F. Joly and Diederik A. Stapel, published online on 14 January 2008 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the co-author, the journal Editor in Chief, Tom Postmes, and John Wiley and Sons Ltd. The retraction has been agreed upon following the results of an investigation into the work of Diederik A. Stapel (https://www.commissielevelt.nl/). The Levelt Committee has determined that this article contained data that were fabricated by Diederik A. Stapel. His co-author was unaware of his actions and not in any way involved.

The papers have been 13 times, 9 times, and once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

This makes six for Stapel in the journal, which has also issued an Expression of Concern about three other papers:

On the basis of the results of the Joint Tilburg/Groningen/Amsterdam investigation of the publications by Mr Stapel (https://www.commissielevelt.nl/), we are issuing this Expression of Concern for the articles listed to alert our readers. The Drenth Committee of Amsterdam has stated that “‘Evidence of fraud’ is based on an inspection and analysis of the reported data, leading to the conclusion that fraud is most likely.” According to the Drenth committee “In Mr Stapel’s memory, there is no question of fraudulent behavior during his Amsterdam period, and he does not agree with these findings of the Committee” (https://www.commissielevelt.nl/drenth-committee/evidence-of-fraud/).

REFERENCES

Stapel, D. A., & Koomen, W. (1996). Differential consequences of trait inferences: A direct test of the trait–referent hypothesis. European Journal of Social Psychology, 26, 827–837. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0992(199609)26:5<827::AID-EJSP800>3.0.CO;2-X.

Stapel, D. A., & Koomen, W. (1997). Using primed exemplars during impression formation: Interpretation or comparison? European Journal of Social Psychology, 27, 357–367. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0992 (199705)27:3<357::AID-EJSP818>3.0.CO;2-E.

Stapel, D. A., & Koomen, W. (1999). Correction processes in person judgments: The role of timing. European Journal of Social Psychology, 29, 131–138. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-0992(199902)29:1<131::AIDEJSP922>3.0.CO;2-8.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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16 Responses

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  1. “Staff, miter, book, share: how attributes of Saint Nicholas induce normative behavior”

    I am shocked, SHOCKED, to think a publication concerning Santa Claus might have any data of dubious integrity. Was nothing sacred?

    littlegreyrabbit

    November 24, 2012 at 9:40 am

    • OI! Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas are remarkably different characters (at least to us Dutch).

      Marco

      November 24, 2012 at 10:14 am

    • I am schocked that these type of social “scientists” actually come up with this stuff in the first place, regardless of whether it contains fake data. How on earth, as a “scientist”, heck even just as a grown man or woman, can you come up with this stuff ?!? Do these people seriously sit around a table and discuss these brilliant ideas without thinking ‘what have I done with my life that got me to this point’ ? It seems like something 6th graders would come up with as a group project.

      From the article:

      “In the present studies, we investigate whether Saint Nicholas spontaneously induces sharing behavior in young Dutch school children. We assume that in the eyes of these children, Saint Nicholas is strongly associated with the sharing norm because he himself shares his gifts and candy with all the children in the country and because the children sing songs that remind them of the importance that Saint Nicholas attributes to sharing. The association between Saint Nicholas and thesharing norm may spontaneously activate sharing behavior and change judgments about sharing, in the same way as ‘‘other people’’ have been shown to activate stereotypes (Devine, 1989), goals (Shah, 2003; Fitzsimons & Bargh, 2003) or
      behaviors (Bargh et al., 1996; Dijksterhuis & van Knippenberg, 1998). The attributes of Saint Nicholas are expected to raise the salience of the sharing norm and sharing behavior. Because salient norms are more likely to influence behavior (Cialdini et al., 1990), children should be more likely to share after being primed with Saint Nicholas’s attributes.”

      All that’s left would be someone asking Stapel if he got the memo on the TPS reports.

      Marjory

      April 28, 2013 at 7:44 pm

  2. Had the Levelt Committee investigated JFK’s assassination, they would also have concluded that LH Oswald acted alone.

    chirality

    November 24, 2012 at 10:21 am

    • I’m confused by this statement. Are you saying that Stapel’s co-authors were or were not unwitting accomplices? It is certainly interesting that he found so many incurious colleagues.

      conradseitz

      November 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

  3. Retracted: What a difference a (graduation) day makes: How totally honest graduate students become data fabricators overnight. Diederik A. Stapel and A. Diederik Stapel. There are strong indications that this article contained fabricated data. Each co-author was unaware of the other co-author’s actions and was not in any way involved.

    How is it that Stapel was honest as a graduate student but adopted a new research method after getting his Ph.D.? And how is it that so many graduate students and colleagues could have believed that they would not have to do any of the hard work of preparing questions and administering questionnaires, but could sit at their computers running analyses and would get publications and degrees for so little trouble? Oh … never mind.

    JudyH

    November 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    • I agree. I made these same questions when it all blew out. What the hell? What kind of phd is that where you don’t have to do any of the data gathering work?! And what kind of department is that where such things happen?! Unfortunately, this type of work environment is all too common in psychology. But then, most phd students are too chicken to stand up. I did, got my fees back, fired my useless supervisor and changed uni while getting an apology too. Was hard work? Yes. Did I have to fight through many walls? Yes. But in the end, I did my phd with honest researchers and didn’t have to put up with any suspicious crap! What happen with stapel can happen pretty much in any psychology department. This is what happens when academia fosters leader cult instead of mutual respect and dedication to scientific work.

      Rita BA

      November 28, 2012 at 4:08 am

      • Good for you! I was just talking with a friend who, for complicated reasons, had to do his PhD without any help from his professor (as the professor himself also admitted to me privately). As it turned out, this was the best possible outcome, since my friend was forced to learn how to do everything himself, from scratch, leading to a well-regarded book and a good job. This may be the better way, in the long run.

        Toby White

        November 28, 2012 at 9:42 am

        • Maybe. But my friend who also had the same incompetent supervisor I did in my first year, didn’t take any steps to change and ended up with a horrible Viva. Research was great but she had no one to read her thesis! She was completely alone for 4 years! There’s a reason why we do this with a mentor! But Mentors are hard to come by these days! I was lucky to find someone really great after that first horrible experience. But I also looked hard for it and learned a lot in the process. I do have to agree that such experience left me better prepared than other PhDs around in what comes to the practical aspects of the profession, the skills you learn to manage your career; the stuff you have to do beyond the ideas you have for research. I had to be my own person and finished my PhD ahead of the game in my field. So, in that sense I think you’re right. But having a great mentor helped in that my new supervisor conducted himself in a way that was a true example. He also always respected me as a researcher and never treated me as a tool. He truly enabled my career instead of using me to advance his own.

          Rita BA

          November 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    • “And how is it that so many graduate students and colleagues could have believed that they would not have to do any of the hard work of preparing questions and administering questionnaires, but could sit at their computers running analyses and would get publications and degrees for so little trouble?”

      It could be that the Phd-students received a poor education, and were not really taught what research is about and how it should be performed. With regard to this it might be interesting to read a section about a fictitious planet F345 and how science is performed there (depicted in: “Why science is not necessarily self-correcting” http://pps.sagepub.com/content/7/6/645.full.pdf+html):

      “Planet F345 in the Andromeda galaxy is inhabited by a highly intelligent humanoid species very similar to
      Homo sapiens sapiens . Here is the situation of science in the year 3045268 in that planet. (…) Young investigators are taught early on that the only thing that matters is making new discoveries and finding statistically significant results at all cost. In a typical research team at any prestigious university in F345, dozens of pre-docs and post- docs sit day and night in front of their powerful computers in a
      common hall perpetually data dredging through huge data – bases. Whoever gets an extraordinary enough omega value (a number derived from some sort of statistical selection process) runs to the office of the senior investigator and proposes to write and submit a manuscript. The senior investigator gets all
      these glaring results and then allows only the manuscripts with the most extravagant results to move forward. The most prestigious journals do the same. Funding agencies do the same. Universities are practically run by financial officers that know nothing about science (and couldn’t care less about it), but are
      strong at maximizing financial gains. (…) Simple citizens are bombarded from the mass media on a daily basis with announcements about new discoveries, although no serious discovery has been made in F345 for many years now. Critical thinking and questioning is generally discredited in most countries in F345. ”

      Maybe a lot of how science is done on planet F345 can be directly compared to how it is done at this point in time over here on good ol’ Earth. Maybe university managers with more “managerial skills” than scientific skills, -awareness, or -knowledge choose professors with little critical thinking skills and general scientific attitude. These professors in turn choose their Phd students, who should of course also not be to bothered, or aware, about conducting research appropriately. Phd students should only try and come up with “sexy” and “new ideas” for research (which will undoubtledly be based on small student- samples), and subsequently crunch out as many “publications” as possible (on which these professors would automatically become co-author and for which the psych department and institute could rank up another awesome publication: happy. happy, joy, joy !!).

      It could then become a self-sustaining system of, from a scientific point of view, poor “research”, conducted by poor “scientists” which results in an almost completely useless output of “publications” in “scientific journals”. But this all doesn’t matter, because appropriately conducting science is perhaps not the main goal…

      Of course this can all be easily corrected by setting up a mandatory system with appropriate rules for institutions, journals, and individual scientists. But hey, it’s only science: why have any logical and useful standards and procedures for useful and relevant things? It’s far more important to have tons of mandatory rules and standards like described in the APA- publication guidelines: for really crucial things like when to use hyphenation or when to use capital letters in your articles.

      F345

      April 29, 2013 at 9:18 am

  4. Just retract anything he’s ever authored or coauthored and get it over with. If his coauthors want to replicate something they have confidence in, let them give it a shot. These types of social psych experiments tend to be pretty quick and cheap to run.

    failuretoreplicant

    November 25, 2012 at 11:25 am

  5. I hate that I often feel embarrassment by proxy…

    Rita BA

    November 28, 2012 at 3:58 am

  6. Today the final report of the committee has been published, with a big press conference. Most of the findings we knew about I think. A lot of finger pointing at his colleagues who did not keep him in check. Soon Stapel himself will be interviewed on TV. They’ve turned it into a bit of a circus to show how much they care.

    Dutch professor abroad

    November 28, 2012 at 7:59 am

  7. This is Stapel reading his declaration on TV: http://nos.nl/artikel/445575-diederik-stapel-ik-heb-gefaald.html

    In a nutshell he explains how he has failed truth, science, those around him and himself. He also talks about how he has been trying to get his life back together.

    Funniest thing of it all (perhaps?) is that he is publishing a book later this week in which he details not his fraudulent behavior, but what has happened to him during the past year.

    Dutch professor abroad

    November 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

    • Well, you have to hand it to him. He certainly has the skills to transform an absolutely horrible situation into his favour! Worst is that people will buy into it (in this case, literally as in, buy his book)

      Rita BA

      November 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm


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