Final report in Smeesters case serves up seven retractions

smeestersErasmus University in Rotterdam has issued its final report on psychologist Dirk Smeesters, concluding that the former Erasmus faculty member had committed research misconduct in a total of seven papers. Three of those articles already have been retracted in the case, as we reported in December 2012.

The committee investigation is in fact a follow-up inquiry — thus its name, the Smeesters Follow-Up Investigation Committee — prompted by concerns that an initial probe was incomplete. According to the report, the four-member panel conducted an “in-depth analysis” of every paper Smeesters, who left the university’s Rotterdam School of Management in July 2012, was “actively” involved in. That turned out to be 22 articles (not including three others already retracted).

The final report is worth reading, presented here as a pdf. The four articles are:

The committee says it will urge the journals to retract the articles. It also offers up “a few more concerns and recommendations concerning the practice of science in general” that came up in their investigation, including “difficulty in obtaining the data,” new scales “with no external validation,” and that in a few cases, “it was clear that subjects were deleted without this being mentioned.”

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One thought on “Final report in Smeesters case serves up seven retractions”

  1. Erasmus University should be praised for their transparency in this case and their willingness to go over Smeesters’ entire oeuvre.
    The committee found deletions of data without mention, replacements of participants between experimental conditions, impossibly consistent results, and “manual changes in the data files”. Smeesters attributes this to sloppiness and the committee concluded that Smeesters committed “imputable inaccuracies”. The committee also found that Smeesters deleted files before handing over his laptop to the committee (recall that the hard drive of his private laptop had crashed in the week that the Stapel affair broke). The question now is: should the combination of deleting of the evidence for “manual changes” in the data files not lead to the conclusion that Smeesters falsified data? The sloppiness defence appears to have been used by Dhonukshe as well. There the employer found Dhonukshe guilty of “culpable careless” at first, whereas in the appeal process this was upgraded to data fabrication.

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