Prominent psychologist at Cornell notches second retraction

Robert Sternberg

Robert Sternberg, a psychology professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, whose work has been cited more than 140,000 times, has had a second paper retracted because he duplicated his previous work.

Sternberg’s work came under scrutiny earlier this year when colleagues said he was citing himself at a high rate, and not doing enough to encourage diversity in psychology research. He resigned as editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science, and around the same time, Brendan O’Connor, at the University of Leicester in the UK posted allegations on Twitter that Sternberg had been recycling his work, after O’Connor analyzed the material with Nick Brown.

Sternberg’s first retraction appeared in June in School Psychology International. Here’s the new one, in Theory Into Practice:

We, the Editor and Publisher of Theory Into Practice, have retracted the following article:

Robert J. Sternberg and Elena L. Grigorenko, Successful Intelligence in the Classroom, Theory Into Practice, Volume 43 (4), 2004. DOI 10.1207/s15430421tip4304_5

The Editor of Theory Into Practice and Taylor & Francis note that the policy of the journal is to consider only original material. It has become known that a substantially similar article by the same authors was published previously in Journal for the Education of the Gifted (Robert J. Sternberg and Elena L. Grigorenko, Teaching for Successful Intelligence: Principles, Procedures, and Practices, Journal for the Education of the Gifted, Volume 27 (2–3). DOI 10.1177/016235320302700206). As this conflicts with our stated policy on originality, the article is hereby retracted and should not be cited. The scientific content of the article was found to be valid by the editor and reviewers and is not in question.

We have been informed in our decision-making by our policy on publishing ethics and integrity and the COPE guidelines on retractions.

The paper has been cited 43 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

Sternberg did not respond to requests for comment. In an April story in Inside Higher Ed, he

repeatedly apologized for what he called certain “lapses in judgment and mistakes.”

Namely, he said via email, “I have sometimes cited myself too much and I was not always as careful as I should have been about ‘recycling’ my own material.”

Hat tip: Nick Brown

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4 thoughts on “Prominent psychologist at Cornell notches second retraction”

  1. Prof. Sternberg is the editor of the just-published 2nd edition of *Guide to Publishing in Psychology Journals* (Cambridge UP, 2019).

  2. Ha!!! I appreciated herr doktor bimler’s witty response. Interestingly, same-authored text recycling seems to be the norm in textbook publishing when going from one edition to the next, though in recent years as the time cycle between revisions has shortened, some have complained about the lack of substantive changes in newer editions, particularly in the context of the exorbitant prices of some textbooks. Perhaps less common and, likely, less acceptable is same-author recycling from one book to another. These are the types of instances that I wish authors were more transparent in informing readers about the degree of reuse. After all, why would I want to pay for a new book if much of it consists of recycled stuff that I may have already read AND paid for?

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