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At least four papers authored by Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino contain fraudulent data, three business school professors allege.
Uri Simonsohn, Leif D. Nelson, and Joseph P. Simmons — who teach at University Ramon Llull in Barcelona, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively — wrote on their data investigation blog Data Colada that they plan to detail multiple instances of academic misconduct by Gino in a four-part series. Only two posts were up as of Thursday evening.
The professors wrote that they first contacted HBS in fall 2021 with concerns of academic misconduct by Gino.
“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,” the three wrote in a blog post last week. “Perhaps dozens.”
According to her HBS faculty page, Gino is now on administrative leave. In the past month, Gino’s endowed faculty position — the Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration — has also been removed from her faculty page.
Gino studies behavioral economics, specializing in research on leadership and workplace dynamics.
HBS spokesperson Brian C. Kenny declined to comment. Gino did not reply to a request for comment.
Gino’s work was previously scrutinized after a 2021 Data Colada investigation found that a landmark paper she co-authored in 2012 contained fraudulent data. At the time, the investigators pointed to one of three experiments detailed in the paper, which was later retracted.
Four of the five authors of the 2012 paper — including Gino and HBS professor Max H. Bazerman — said they had nothing to do with the problematic experiment in question.
But in a post on June 17, Data Colada wrote that they found evidence of additional data fabrication in that study in a separate experiment that Gino was responsible for.
Harvard has also been internally investigating “a series of papers” for more than a year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Data Colada wrote last week that the University’s internal report may be around 1,200 pages.
The professors added that Harvard has requested that three other papers co-authored by Gino — which Data Colada flagged — also be retracted and that the 2012 paper’s retraction be amended to include Gino’s fabrications.
Last week, Bazerman told the Chronicle of Higher Education that he was informed by Harvard that the experiments he co-authored contained additional fraudulent data.
Bazerman called the evidence presented to him by the University “compelling,” but he denied to the Chronicle that he was at all involved with the data manipulation.
According to Data Colada, Gino was “the only author involved in the data collection and analysis” of the experiment in question.
“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 professors wrote.
In their second post on Tuesday, the investigators wrote that a 2015 study co-authored by Gino also contains manipulations to prove the paper’s hypothesis.
Observations in the paper, the three wrote, “were altered to produce the desired effect.”
“And if these observations were altered, then it is reasonable to suspect that other observations were altered as well,” they added.
—Staff writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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