Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Diederik Stapel ups count to 55 retractions

with 5 comments

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Diederik Stapel

Dutch social psychologist and well-known fraudster Diederik Stapel is up to 55 retractions. He remains secure in his spot at #4 on our leaderboard.

The “fraudulent” Social Cognition article found, according to its abstract, that the more positively you perceive yourself, the less you need to compare yourself to other people. Conversely, negative thoughts were linked to more comparison to others. As an article in the New York Times points out, where Stapel’s faulty studies often succeeded is in telling us what we want to believe about the world.

Here’s the retraction note for the article:

The following article is being retracted from publication in Social Cognition: “The Effects of Different Types of Self–Activation on Social Comparison Orientation” by Saskia A. Schwinghammer and Diederik A. Stapel, 24(6), 703-722, doi: 10.1521/soco.2006.24.6.703 After the Noort Committee determined this article to be fraudulent, the Editor and Publishers of Social Cognition have retracted the article (for further details, please visit the following link: https://www.commissielevelt.nl/).

The article has been cited 9 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The Editor in Chief of Social Cognition told us how the fraud came to light:

Your best bet is to read the Levelt Report that detailed the fraudulent actions in the different papers. We were simply informed that this paper was included on the list of papers that the Report had deemed fraudulent. I believe it was the same action as with most of the others—that he made up the data. But, I’m not entirely certain about that.

Schwinghammer, a former student of Stapel’s, is co-author on another retracted Stapel article. The Times piece includes a scene in which he apologizes to her:

One day in December 2011, Saskia Schwinghammer, a former student and now a researcher at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht, visited him at his home. Stapel wept as he apologized. He reminded her that she and other students were in no way to blame, that they did not have to feel they should have been more discerning when accepting data from him. “You came up with these ideas,” Stapel told her. “You designed the studies. I took away one little thing from the process. Don’t let people think that you’re worthless because you worked with me.”

We reached out to Stapel, and to Schwinghammer — who is currently a faculty member at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. We will update this post if we hear back.

The last time we heard from Stapel, he had resigned from a position as a teacher at Fontys University in the Netherlands and was posting comments on our site under a pseudonym.

Hat tip: Maarten Keulemans

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Comments
  • Lee Rudolph August 26, 2015 at 10:24 am

    The more positively you perceive your made-up data, the less you need to compare it to other data!

  • Dean Meyer August 26, 2015 at 10:52 am

    I don’t understand the concept of a graduate student and first author who does not collect the data herself.

  • cvdolan August 26, 2015 at 10:56 am

    I think he meant: “You designed the studies. I ruthlessly and unscrupulously sacrificed the project, the paper, and your reputation on the altar of my vanity … “

  • SD de Dolan August 26, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Now he’s starting a lecture tour through called “Wrestling with the truth”. Tickets only $20. (Source in Dutch: http://www.tubantia.nl/regio/hengelo/diederik-stapel-vertelt-zijn-verhaal-in-rabotheater-hengelo-1.5163754 )

    • A Nawn August 27, 2015 at 9:45 am

      This is like those people who get arrested for criminal activity turning around and becoming coaches/consultants (Jordan Belfort, Frank Abagnale, et al). He is the latest.

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