Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Stapel watch reaches 45 retractions

without comments

stapel_npcKeeping up with the retraction count of Diederik Stapel is proving to be a, well, staple of this job. Four more retractions brings the figure to 45.

The articles in question are:

  • The unconscious unfolding of emotion,” by Stapel and Kirsten Ruys, which appeared in the European Review of Social Psychology in 2009 and has been cited three times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge:

The following article is being retracted from publication in European Review of Social Psychology: ‘‘The unconscious unfolding of emotions’’ by Kirsten I. Ruys & Diederik A. Stapel (volume 20, 232–271, DOI 10.1080/10463280903119060). After the Levelt Committee determined this article to be based on empirical articles that contain fraudulent data provided by D. Stapel, the Editors and Publishers of European Review of Social Psychology have retracted the article. For further details, please visit the following link:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.

The second author (Diederik Stapel) has been found to have created fraudulent data for this article. A website ( contains a first set of publications by D. A. Stapel that are now officially identified as fraudulent.

The remaining author wishes to state that D. A. Stapel is the sole author of the fraudulent data, and the first author of the article was unaware of this. This article obviously represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system. The scientific community takes a very strong view on this matter and apologies are offered to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the review process.

The following article is being retracted from publication in Psychological Inquiry: “Stop Making Sense: The Ultimate Fear” by Diederik A. Stapel & Marret K. Noordewier (20:4, 245–248, DOI: 10.1080/10478400903448516). After the Levelt Committee determined this article to be fraudulent, the Editor and Publisher of Psychological Inquiry have retracted the article (for further details, please visit the following link:

The following article is being retracted from publication in Social Influence: ‘‘Status concerns and financial debts in adolescents’’ by Rob M. A. Nelissen, Niels van de Ven & Diederik Stapel (volume 6, issue 1, 39-56, DOI 10.1080/15534510.2010.525855). After the Levelt Committee determined the publication to be fraudulent, the Editors and Publishers of Social Influence have retracted the article. For further details, please visit the following link:

  • Gustaf Öqvist Seimyr January 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Well, it “beeing a staple of this” blog is also tiresome. Sometimes the gloating attitude of your’s is a bit awkward. Staple is a roadwreck, move on and keep safe.

    • cw January 25, 2013 at 5:03 pm


    • JudyH January 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Not agreed.

      • Gustaf Öqvist Seimyr January 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm

        Care to elaborate?

        • JudyH January 28, 2013 at 9:15 pm

          (1) The pun has not been used often. I looked back at previous entries to check.
          (2) I don’t see any gloating attitude. Which phrase would you describe as indicative of a gloating attitude?
          (3) The purpose of this blog is to report on retractions and to investigate what happened and what effect it has, insofar as those latter two difficult tasks are possible. Averting the eyes and moving on, as you recommend, is the exact opposite of the blog’s purpose.

  • ms mary January 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    The Stapel case is a huge blot on my field, social psychology. What still puzzles me is that FIRST authors of papers with him were fooled. The first author should have been thoroughly immersed in the data!

    • pjb253 January 28, 2013 at 1:00 am

      I have come across “social psychology” via Stephan Lewandowsky’s actions at UWA and now at Retraction Watch. I have some confidence in astro-physics and particle-physics because of the generous funding to the experimental/observational side that relatively independently tests the theories.
      Can you give me some links that might generate some confidence in “social psychology”.

      • typewriter January 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm

        I’m not entirely sure what Lewandowsky has got to do with social psychology or Stapel. Lewandowsky is a cognitive psychologist working on very different topics. It is odd that whenever Stapel is mentioned all the Lewandowsky stuff pops up in the comments.

    • squig January 28, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      That depends on how you look at it. In the perfect world I would agree with you, but several of his co-authors were his grad-students. Students with little experience who got their full training from him. I do not find it strange that they would not have noticed.

    • JudyH January 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      Should have been. But as others have mentioned, Stapel’s MO seems to have been to cut his grad students and faculty co-authors out of the data collection step by pretending that he had exclusive and privileged access to the study population. His collaborators got only the data set.

      It remains to be seen whether his grad students were completely naive about this or were chortling that they didn’t have to do the supposedly routine and non-intellectual work of devising experiments and recording data.

      In Stapel’s case it doesn’t matter because the data were cut from whole cloth to fit the pre-determined conclusion. But in real life, it’s a good idea for the graduate student — for anyone, actually — to be involved in all phases of the project and to do a good portion of the work him/herself. A researcher who is out there collecting data has an opportunity to see if the methods used are truly capturing the variable that is being measured. And no amount of fancy statistical analysis will transform bad data into good data, so every step in the process is important, not just the final step at the computer.

      It would be sad if committee members and journal editors have to ask, “Where you there? Did you see it being done? Did you do some of it yourself? What problems did you encounter?” to be sure that something actually was done, but that may be where we are heading.

  • zoo January 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Should stop making references to staples. The name is pronounced stah-pul.

  • Mamunur Rashid January 25, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    He is damn good genius!

  • Joel January 25, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    The ability to make puns must be one of the few bright spots of doing this job!

    • Molecular January 28, 2013 at 2:15 am

      Did any body ever mention that ‘stapel’ means ‘pile’ in Dutch? I’m sure there’s a pun or two in that as well!

  • Ronald Auktepus January 28, 2013 at 11:29 am

    I would reduce the Diederik Stapel updates to quarterly summaries. This growing a little tiresome.

    • Real Science January 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      It may be tiresome, but RW covers retractions…

      • Toby White January 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

        … so they have to offer them all up, whenever they come through. That’s a rule once known as (wait for it) “stapelrecht” — from the requirement to pile the cargo on the dock, I expect.

      • JudyH January 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm

        Exactly right. Skip the entry if you don’t want to read about it, Ronald Auktepus. The retractions are already bundled in groups of two or more.

  • Neuroskeptic (@Neuro_Skeptic) January 29, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I don’t find this Stapel stuff tiresome, and anyone who doesn’t like puns is reading the wrong blog.

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