It took five months, but in December a second retraction popped up for disgraced accounting professor James E. Hunton.
Hunton resigned his teaching post at Bentley University in December of 2012. An extensive investigation by Bentley showed that not only was the data in two papers falsified. Hunton also lied about non-existent confidentiality agreements and tried to destroy evidence of his lies by unsuccessfully wiping his laptop and changing metadata on files.
The first paper Hunton was accused of faking, ironically about accounting fraud, was retracted in 2012.
We’ve found four more retractions for an erstwhile accounting professor, bringing his total to 37.
The latest retractions follow a 2014 investigation into the work of James E. Hunton by his former employer, Bentley University in Massachusetts, which found him guilty of misconduct, resulting in more than two dozen retractions. Here’s the list of retractions released by the American Accounting Association.
Here is the retraction notice, which is similar for all the newly retracted papers:
Hunton’s official total is 33.5, since one journal retracted only one section of a paper, making it a “partial” retraction. Most of those retractions came last year, the fallout from an investigation at Bentley University which concluded that the accounting researcher had committed misconduct. Hunton resigned from the university in 2012 after his first retraction, citing family matters.
After the Bentley University investigation, the journal Contemporary Accounting Research conducted its own review of the paper, and found “no credible evidence exists to support the validity of the data in the study,” according to the retraction note for “Decision Aid Reliance: A Longitudinal Field Study Involving Professional Buy-Side Financial Analysts.”
Here’s the entire retraction note:
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 big news this week at Retraction Watch was the release of more than two dozen retractions for accounting researcher James Hunton, and the sentencing of Dong-Pyou Han for scientific fraud (see more below). Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »
It began with a retraction due to a “misstatement” in November 2012, which led to an investigation that found the first author, James E. Hunton, guilty of misconduct. Now, the floodgates have opened, and Hunton has 31 retractions under his belt, making him the newest addition to the Retraction Watch leaderboard.
A month after the first retraction in 2012, Hunton resigned from his accounting professorship at Bentley University, citing family and health concerns.
Then, in 2014, a university investigation concluded that Hunton fabricated data in two papers and may have destroyed evidence. The first paper was the one retracted from Accounting Review for a misstatement; the second was retracted from Contemporary Accounting Research in December 2014. Even though the investigation centered around two publications, the university suggested more may be affected:
Who has the most retractions? Here’s our unofficial list (see notes on methodology), which we’ll update as more information comes to light:
- Yoshitaka Fujii (total retractions: 183) Sources: Final report of investigating committee, our reporting
- Joachim Boldt (94) Sources: Editors in chief statement, additional coverage
- Diederik Stapel (58) Source: Our cataloging
- Adrian Maxim (48) Source: IEEE database
- Peter Chen (Chen-Yuan Chen) (43) Source: SAGE, our cataloging
- Hua Zhong (41) Source: Journal
- Shigeaki Kato (39) Source: Our cataloging
- James Hunton (37) Source: Our cataloging
- Hendrik Schön (36) Sources: PubMed and Thomson Scientific
- Hyung-In Moon (35) Source: Our cataloging
- Naoki Mori (32) Source: PubMed, our cataloging
- Tao Liu: (29) Source: Journal
- Cheng-Wu Chen (28) Source: our cataloging
- Gideon Goldstein (26)
- Scott Reuben (25)
- Gilson Khang (22) Sources: WebCitation.org, WebCitation.org, journal
- Friedhelm Herrmann (21)
- Noel Chia (21)
- Dipak Das (20) Click here for a full list of retracted papers
- Khalid Zaman (20)
- Jin Cheng (19)
- Bharat Aggarwal (18)
- Fazlul Sarkar (18)
- John Darsee (17)
- Wataru Matsuyama (17)
- Alirio Melendez (17)
- Robert Slutsky (17)
- Ulrich Lichtenthaler (16)
- Erin Potts-Kant (16)
- Pattium Chiranjeevi (15)
We note that all but one of the top 30 are men, which agrees with the general findings of a 2013 paper suggesting that men are more likely to commit fraud.
Many accounts of the John Darsee story cite 80-plus retractions, which would place him third on the list, but Web of Science only lists 17, three of which are categorized as corrections. That’s not the only discrepancy. For example, Fujii has 138 retractions listed in Web of Science, compared to 183 as recommended by a university committee, while Reuben has 25, compared to the 22 named in this paper. We know that not everything ends up in Web of Science — Chen, for example, isn’t there at all — so we’ve used our judgment based on covering these cases to arrive at the highest numbers we could verify.
Shigeaki Kato is likely to end up with 43 retractions, based on the results of a university investigation.
All of this is a good reminder why the database we’re building with the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation and Arnold Foundation will be useful.
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An accounting professor at a Boston-area college has resigned a month after publishing a retraction that has sparked extensive discussion on Retraction Watch.
Hunton and a co-author retracted “A Field Experiment Comparing the Outcomes of Three Fraud Brainstorming Procedures: Nominal Group, Round Robin, and Open Discussion” from the Accounting Review on November 9. The notice was scant, but the authors left a comment on our post with details: Read the rest of this entry »
The Accounting Review, a publication of the American Accounting Association, has retracted a 2010 paper, but the reason for the move is less than clear.
The article, “A Field Experiment Comparing the Outcomes of Three Fraud Brainstorming Procedures: Nominal Group, Round Robin, and Open Discussion,” was by James E. Hunton, an award-winning accountancy prof at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., and Anna Gold [updated 1/22/13 to update link], of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. It has been cited 24 times, according to Google Scholar.