Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Former accounting prof adds his 32nd retraction

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james-hunton

James Hunton

Another retraction makes 32.5 for former accounting professor James E. Hunton, and earns him the #10 slot on our leaderboard.

Though he resigned from his position at Bentley University in 2012, the story didn’t end there: In 2014, a university investigation found he’d committed misconduct in two papers. The, in June 2015, he notched 25 retractions all at once.

The newly retracted paper, “Effects of Anonymous Whistle- Blowing and Perceived Reputation Threats on Investigations of Whistle-Blowing Allegations by Audit Committee Members,” published in the Journal of Management Studies, suggests that, for public corporations, an anonymous whistleblower might not be as effective as an alert from a known source. The publisher Wiley put out a press release for the paper in 2010, and it succeeded in garnering some coverage.

Whether its conclusion remains valid is unclear, as Hunton didn’t provide evidence to support the validity of the data. The note explains:

The above article, published online on 24 February 2010 in Wiley Online Library (www.wileyonlinelibrary.com) has been retracted by agreement between Jacob Rose; the General Editor, Bill Harley; and John Wiley&Sons,Ltd. The institution of the first-named author, Bentley University, has conducted investigations that find compelling evidence that Dr. Hunton fabricated data in two other studies without the knowledge of his coauthors. The data for this article were generated by Dr. Hunton, and he did not provide evidence to support the validity of these data upon request. Based on the lack of supporting evidence from Dr. Hunton, the validity of the data cannot be confirmed. The article has been retracted to correct the academic literature and maintain standards of academic integrity.

First author Jake Rose, currently a professor at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, told us that he initiated retractions on multiple papers on which he was a co-author with Hunton:

I initiated the retraction.  A day or two after receiving a copy of the investigation completed by Bentley University back in July 2014, I contacted the editors of all papers where I was a coauthor and Dr. Hunton had collected the data.  I provided the editors with a copy of Bentley’s report, and I recommended that these papers be retracted because of the findings of Bentley’s investigation and because I was not able to receive any response from Dr. Hunton to support the validity of the data he collected.  After reading the Bentley report and not being able to communicate with Dr. Hunton, I no longer had confidence in data collected by Dr. Hunton. Thus, in order to preserve the integrity of the journals and my own research, I requested retractions of all these papers in July 2014. It appears that the journals have been conducting their own investigations ever since I contacted them, and I have facilitated their investigations whenever they have requested assistance.

He declined to give us more details on which papers, and added this has been a “terrible” experience:

I had been wondering when the retractions for other papers would be made.  I have been expecting them for a long time.  It looks like there is now a landslide. The entire experience has been terrible for myself and the many coauthors out there. I have lost years of my work and am still regularly shocked and dismayed by the revelations. It has been awful.

Bill Harley, one of the editors of the Journal of Management Studies, told us:

When we became aware of concerns raised in the report of investigation by Bentley University, we followed our standard procedure in investigating possible ethical issues. Our thorough investigation led us to conclude that a retraction was the appropriate course of action.

We’ve been unable to find contact information for Hunton.

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