Originally posted 23 Nov 20
A cognitive psychologist in Germany has lost one of two papers slated for retraction after her former institution found her guilty of misconduct.
In a 2019 report, Leiden University found that Lorenza Colzato, now of TU Dresden, had failed to obtain ethics ethics approval for some of her studies, manipulated her data and fabricated results in grant applications. Although the institution did not identify Colzato by name, Retraction Watch confirmed her identity.
The Leiden report — the conclusions of which were affirmed by the Netherlands Board on Research Integrity last month — called for the retraction of two papers by Colzato and her co-authors, three of whom acted as whistleblowers in the case. As the trio told us in an interview last December:
We worked with the accused for many years, during which we observed and felt forced to get involved in several bad research practices. These practices would range from small to large violations. Since early on we were aware that this was not OK or normal, and so we tried to stand up to this person early on.However, we very quickly learned that complaining could only lead to nasty situations such as long and prolonged criticism at a professional and personal level. … But seeing this behavior recurring and steadily escalating, and seeing other people in the situations we had been in, led us to feel like we could no longer stay silent. We had become more independent (despite still working in the same department), and felt like we had to ‘break’ that system. About one year ago, we brought the issues to the attention of the scientific Director of our Institute, who took our story seriously from the beginning. Upon evaluating the evidence, together we decided the Director would file a complaint. Out of fear for retaliation, we initially did not join as formal complainants but eventually gathered the courage to join the complaint and disclose our role.
The now-retracted paper, which Colzato wrote with Laura Steenbergen — a former colleague at Leiden and one of the eventual whistleblowers — was titled “Overweight and cognitive performance: High body mass index is associated with impairment in reactive control during task switching.” It appeared in 2017 in Frontiers in Nutrition.