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BREAKING: HBS professor placed on "administrative leave" following bombshell investigation into fake data
Harvard Business School professor of business administration Francesca Gino will have at least 4 of her papers retracted, "perhaps dozens"
One of my haters sent me this investigation — published today — taunting me,“You could never accomplish such a takedown on your own.”
This hater is probably right tbh.
While I have dabbled in a Harvard Business School (HBS) takedown or two…
The authors of today’s takedown are: Leif Nelson (Professor of Business Administration and Marketing at Berkeley), Joe Simmons (Professor of Applied Statistics at Wharton), and Uri Simonsohn (Professor of Behavioral Science ESADE Business School)
They are on a whole other level when it comes to tearing apart data; it is hard/impossible for me to compete with them; I could spend my whole life working on investigating data, and still never be as competent as the combined intellectual horsepower of the three of them, not to mention their resources to hire an army of RAs if they want.
Luckily, all I have to do is report on their bombshell investigation.
They did the hard work.
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This is such an amazing investigation, I can’t gush about it enough, as someone who covers academic fraud, this was a joy to cover.
It begins with an explosive line:
This is the introduction to a four-part series of posts detailing evidence of fraud in four academic papers co-authored by Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino.
Uh oh, I wouldn’t want to be “Francesca Gino” right about now, whoever that is.
In the Fall of 2021, we shared our concerns with Harvard Business School (HBS). Specifically, we wrote a report about four studies for which we had accumulated the strongest evidence of fraud. We believe that many more Gino-authored papers contain fake data. Perhaps dozens.
At least four fraudulent papers, and “perhaps dozens”!!!?!
The scale of this could be massive.
It is already massive.
The process that ensued at HBS is confidential (for us also). But here are some things we know:
(1) As you can see on her Harvard home page (.htm), Gino has gone on "administrative leave", and the name of her chaired position at HBS is no longer listed.
Placed on leave and stripped of her chair already.
She will probably be fired soon, this is quite damning.
(2) We understand that Harvard had access to much more information than we did, including, where applicable, the original data collected using Qualtrics survey software. If the fraud was carried out by collecting real data on Qualtrics and then altering the downloaded data files, as is likely to be the case for three of these papers, then the original Qualtrics files would provide airtight evidence of fraud. (Conversely, if our concerns were misguided, then those files would provide airtight evidence that they were misguided.)
(3) We have learned (from knowledgeable sources outside of Harvard) that a few days ago Harvard requested that three of the four papers in our report be retracted. A fourth paper, discussed in today’s post, had already been retracted, but we understand that Harvard requested the retraction notice be amended to include mention of this (additional) fraud.
Four of her papers have already been retracted.
(4) The evidence of fraud detailed in our report almost certainly represents a mere subset of the evidence that the Harvard investigators were able to uncover about these four articles. For example, we have heard from some HBS faculty that Harvard’s internal report was ~1,200 pages long, which is 1,182 pages longer than the one we sent to HBS.
(5) To the best of our knowledge, none of Gino’s co-authors carried out or assisted with the data collection for the studies in question.
The investigation ends by saying:
In this series, we provide a blog-friendlier and updated version of what was in our report, plus a few additional analyses. Our report focused on four studies, and so we will write four posts, one for each study. The posts will differ in length, with this one and the fourth one being a big lengthier. We hope to publish the three remaining posts within a week.
Today’s team will write “write four posts, one for each [retracted] study”
There are 3 more still to come.
I did not bother to reach out to Harvard for comment, because I am blacklisted from the communications department there.
This scandal broke today.
I am sure Bloomberg, NYT, WaPo, etc. will report on it this week, probably tomorrow. I can’t really add much to today’s report, but at least I was first, I think.
UPDATE: Francesca Gino is the author of a book called, "Why is pays to break the rules in work and life", LMAO: