Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Academia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Academia. Show all posts

Monday, September 4, 2023

Amid Uncertainty About Francesca Gino’s Research, the Many Co-Authors Project Could Provide Clarity

Evan Nesterak
Behavioral Scientist
Originally posted 30 Aug 23

Here are two excerpts:

“The scientific literature must be cleansed of everything that is fraudulent, especially if it involves the work of a leading academic,” the committee wrote. “No more time and money must be wasted on replications or meta-analyses of fabricated data. Researchers’ and especially students’ too rosy view of the discipline, caused by such publications, should be corrected.”

Stapel’s modus operandi was creating fictitious datasets or tampering with existing ones that he would then “analyze” himself, or pass along to other scientists, including graduate students, as if they were real.

“When the fraud was first discovered, limiting the harm it caused for the victims was a matter of urgency,” the committee said. “This was particularly the case for Mr. Stapel’s former Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers, whose publications were suddenly becoming worthless.”

Why revisit the decade-old case of Stapel now? 

Because its echoes can be heard in the unfolding case of Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino as she faces allegations of data fraud, and her coauthors, colleagues, and the broader scientific community figure out how to respond. Listening to these echoes, especially those of the Stapel committee, helps put the Gino situation, and the efforts to remedy it, in greater perspective.


“After a comprehensive evaluation that took 18 months from start to completion, the investigation committee—comprising three senior HBS colleagues—determined that research misconduct had occurred,” his email said. “After reviewing their detailed report carefully, I could come to no other conclusion, and I accepted their findings.”

He added: “I ultimately accepted the investigation committee’s recommended sanctions, which included immediately placing Professor Gino on administrative leave and correcting the scientific record.”

While it is unclear how the lawsuit will play out, many scientists have expressed concern about the chilling effects it might have on scientists’ willingness to come forward if they suspect research misconduct. 

“If the data are not fraudulent, you ought to be able to show that. If they are, but the fraud was done by someone else, name the person. Suing individual researchers for tens of millions of dollars is a brazen attempt to silence legitimate scientific criticism,” psychologist Yoel Inbar commented on Gino’s statement on Linkedin. 

It is this sentiment that led 13 behavioral scientists (some of whom have coauthored with Gino) to create a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of Simonsohn, Simmons, and Nelson to help raise money for their legal defense. 

Friday, April 7, 2023

Dishonor Code: What Happens When Cheating Becomes the Norm?

Suzy Weiss
The Free Press
Originally posted 16 MAR 23

Here are two excerpts:

Amy Kind, a philosophy professor at Claremont McKenna, said that, at the prestigious liberal arts college just east of Los Angeles, “Cheating is a big concern among the faculty.”

Nor do students have much incentive to turn back the clock: they’re getting better grades for less work than ever. 

Exhibit A: Greye Dunn, a recent Boston University graduate who majored in international relations and minored in Spanish. Dunn said he never cheated per se, but he benefited handsomely from the new, lower standards. His pre-Covid GPA was just north of 3.0; during Covid, he averaged a 3.5. And he knows plenty of students who flouted the rules.

“Many students want the credential, and they just want the easiest way to get that,” Gabriel Rossman, a sociology professor at UCLA, told me. 

A sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious business school, who declined to give me her name, said: “They’re here for the Wharton brand, a 4.0 GPA, and to party.”

“The students see school as a stepping stone,” Beyda told me. He meant they went on to graduate school or to jobs at consulting firms like McKinsey or Bain or in finance at Goldman Sachs, and then a spouse, a house, children, private school, vacations in Provence—all the nice things in life. 


Professors describe feeling demoralized—“I didn’t get into academia to be a cop,” a CUNY professor in the English department told me. Faculty at other schools likewise describe feeling helpless when it comes to calling out cheating, or even catching it. There’s always another app, another workaround. 

Plus, it’s not necessarily smart to report bad behavior. 

“Nontenured faculty have no real choice but to compromise their professional standards and the quality of the students’ own education to take a customer’s-always-right approach,” Gabriel Rossman at UCLA told me. 

That’s because lower level courses, where cheating is more rampant, tend to be taught by nontenured faculty with little job security—the kind of people who fear getting negative student evaluations. “Students can be tyrants,” the CUNY English professor said. “It’s like Yelp. The only four people who are going to review the restaurant are the people who are mad.” 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Fraudulent data raise questions about superstar honesty researcher

Cathleen O'Grady
Originally posted 24 Aug 21

Here is an excerpt:

Some time later, a group of anonymous researchers downloaded those data, according to last week’s post on Data Colada. A simple look at the participants’ mileage distribution revealed something very suspicious. Other data sets of people’s driving distances show a bell curve, with some people driving a lot, a few very little, and most somewhere in the middle. In the 2012 study, there was an unusually equal spread: Roughly the same number of people drove every distance between 0 and 50,000 miles. “I was flabbergasted,” says the researcher who made the discovery. (They spoke to Science on condition of anonymity because of fears for their career.)

Worrying that PNAS would not investigate the issue thoroughly, the whistleblower contacted the Data Colada bloggers instead, who conducted a follow-up review that convinced them the field study results were statistically impossible.

For example, a set of odometer readings provided by customers when they first signed up for insurance, apparently real, was duplicated to suggest the study had twice as many participants, with random numbers between one and 1000 added to the original mileages to disguise the deceit. In the spreadsheet, the original figures appeared in the font Calibri, but each had a close twin in another font, Cambria, with the same number of cars listed on the policy, and odometer readings within 1000 miles of the original. In 1 million simulated versions of the experiment, the same kind of similarity appeared not a single time, Simmons, Nelson, and Simonsohn found. “These data are not just excessively similar,” they write. “They are impossibly similar.”

Ariely calls the analysis “damning” and “clear beyond doubt.” He says he has requested a retraction, as have his co-authors, separately. “We are aware of the situation and are in communication with the authors,” PNAS Editorial Ethics Manager Yael Fitzpatrick said in a statement to Science.

Three of the authors say they were only involved in the two lab studies reported in the paper; a fourth, Boston University behavioral economist Nina Mazar, forwarded the Data Colada investigators a 16 February 2011 email from Ariely with an attached Excel file that contains the problems identified in the blog post. Its metadata suggest Ariely had created the file 3 days earlier.

Ariely tells Science he made a mistake in not checking the data he received from the insurance company, and that he no longer has the company’s original file. He says Duke’s integrity office told him the university’s IT department does not have email records from that long ago. His contacts at the insurance company no longer work there, Ariely adds, but he is seeking someone at the company who could find archived emails or files that could clear his name. His publication of the full data set last year showed he was unaware of any problems with it, he says: “I’m not an idiot. This is a very easy fraud to catch.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Publish or Be Ethical? 2 Studies of Publishing Pressure & Scientific Misconduct in Research

Paruzel-Czachura M, Baran L, & Spendel Z. 
Research Ethics. December 2020. 


The paper reports two studies exploring the relationship between scholars’ self-reported publication pressure and their self-reported scientific misconduct in research. In Study 1 the participants (N = 423) were scholars representing various disciplines from one big university in Poland. In Study 2 the participants (N = 31) were exclusively members of the management, such as dean, director, etc. from the same university. In Study 1 the most common reported form of scientific misconduct was honorary authorship. The majority of researchers (71%) reported that they had not violated ethical standards in the past; 3% admitted to scientific misconduct; 51% reported being were aware of colleagues’ scientific misconduct. A small positive correlation between perceived publication pressure and intention to engage in scientific misconduct in the future was found. In Study 2 more than half of the management (52%) reported being aware of researchers’ dishonest practices, the most frequent one of these being honorary authorship. As many as 71% of the participants report observing publication pressure in their subordinates. The primary conclusions are: (1) most scholars are convinced of their morality and predict that they will behave morally in the future; (2) scientific misconduct, particularly minor offenses such as honorary authorship, is frequently observed both by researchers (particularly in their colleagues) and by their managers; (3) researchers experiencing publication pressure report a willingness to engage in scientific misconduct in the future.


Our findings suggest that the notion of “publish or be ethical?” may constitute a real dilemma for the researchers. Although only 3% of our sample admitted to having engaged in scientific misconduct, 71% reported that they definitely had not violated ethical standards in the past. Furthermore, more than a half (51%) reported seeing scientific misconduct among their colleagues. We did not find a correlation between unsatisfactory work conditions and scientific misconduct, but we did find evidence to support the theory that perceived pressure to collect points is correlated with willingness to exceed ethical standards in the future.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Psychologist’s paper retracted after Dutch national body affirms misconduct findings

Adam Marcus
Retraction Watch
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

Saturday, August 1, 2020

How to Fix Science's Diversity Problem

Benjamin Deen
Scientific American
Originally posted 11 July 20

Here is an excerpt:

As bothered as I was by my own behavior, I’m inspired by the simplicity of the fix: just flag the importance of representation when making decisions about who exists and is heard in academia. Scientists at all levels make these decisions. As trainees, we decide whom to cite in our manuscripts, whose research to read and engage with. Later, we begin choosing people to invite to talks, and students to mentor. Ultimately, as senior scientists, we have an even more direct gatekeeping role, deciding whom to hire and, thus, who constitutes the scientific enterprise. These choices are all levers that can be used to nudge the system away from its default, white male–heavy state.

We tend to think about racism as a personality trait: someone can be racist, nonracist or antiracist. But this simple model that we use to understand other people belies an incredibly complex underlying reality. We contain multitudes. We can be aware of the problems, read Baldwin and Coates, and still have patterns of thinking and behavior that perpetuate racial discrimination.

I’m not sure if we can convince the rest of the country to make concrete behavioral changes, to focus their effort on this issue and face the uncomfortable need to change. But I have more hope for science, which is largely composed of liberal and thoughtful people.

The info is here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

College Football’s Brand At Stake, Ethics Expert Says

Penn State football seniors deserved a bigger crowd in final game ...Ray Glier
Originally posted 16 July 20

Here is an excerpt:

“What is the potential harm vs potential good? This the core ethical question,” Etzel said.

The caretakers of college athletics insist it is too early to be making decisions about canceling football this fall. They are allowing players to work out, coaches to scheme, and fans to dream until the last possible moment before they have to pull the plug. Their runway is growing short.

“To be certain—rigid in what is important—is very risky,” Etzel said in an email response to the ethical dilemma facing college administrators. “Decisions and potential mistakes of this magnitude have not been made in the past, so those running and influencing the show have no benchmarks.

“Presidents and other leaders need to responsibly step in to decide on their own—consistent with their job descriptions—just what the most useful, compassionate path is for each organization.”

If athletes get sick from the virus in workouts this summer and do not recover, or have permanent damage to their health, the college game will get hit with vitriol nationally like it has never seen before. Millions of people in the U.S. are college football fans, but not everyone worships the U. Coaches and administrators are going to be painted as money-thirsty villains. An athletic director, maybe a coach, is going to be scapegoated, then fired, if an athlete does not recover from the virus.

The info is here.

Monday, June 22, 2020

5 Anti-Racist Practices White Scholars Can Adopt Today – #BLM Guest Post

Marius Kothor
Originally posted 17 June, 2020

We are facing a historic moment of reckoning. The violent murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis ignited a movement that has engulfed the entire country. As people demand companies and organizations to account for their complicity in systemic racism, Black scholars are shedding new light on the anti-Blackness embedded within academic institutions. 

Black scholars such as Dr. Shardé M. Davis and Joy Melody Woods, for example, have started the #BlackintheIvory to bring renewed attention to the Micro and Macro level racism Black scholars experience in academia. A number of white scholars, on the other hand, are using this moment as an opportunity for hollow virtue signaling. Many have taken to social media to publicly declare that they are allies of Black people. It is unclear, however, if these performances of “woke-ness” will translate into efforts to address the systemic racism embedded in their departments and universities. From my experiences as a graduate student, it is unlikely that it will. Yet, for white scholars who are genuinely interested in using this moment to begin the process of unlearning the racist practices common in academia, there are a few practical steps that they can take. 

Below is a list of 5 things I think white scholars can do to begin to address racism in their day-to-day encounters with Black scholars. 
  1. Publicly Articulate Solidarity with Black Scholars
  2. Stop Calling the Black People in Your Institution by the Wrong Name
  3. Do Not Talk to Black People as if You Know their Realities Better than They do
  4. Cite Black Scholars in the Body of Your work, Not Just in the Footnotes 
  5. Don’t Try to Get Black Scholars to Validate Your Problematic Project 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Many Public Universities Refuse to Reveal Professors’ Conflicts of Interest

Annie Waldman and David Armstrong
Chronicle of Higher Ed and
Originally posted 6 Dec 19

Here is an excerpt:

All too often, what’s publicly known about faculty members’ outside activities, even those that could influence their teaching, research, or public-policy views, depends on where they teach. Academic conflicts of interest elude scrutiny because transparency varies from one university and one state to the next. ProPublica discovered those inconsistencies over the past year as we sought faculty outside-income forms from at least one public university in all 50 states.

About 20 state universities complied with our requests. The rest didn't, often citing exemptions from public-information laws for personnel records, or offering to provide the documents only if ProPublica first paid thousands of dollars. And even among those that released at least some records, there’s a wide range in what types of information are collected and disclosed, and whether faculty members actually fill out the forms as required. Then there's the universe of private universities that aren't subject to public-records laws and don't disclose professors’ potential conflicts at all. While researchers are supposed to acknowledge industry ties in scientific journals, those caveats generally don’t list compensation amounts.

We've accumulated by far the largest collection of university faculty and staff conflict-of-interest reports available anywhere, with more than 29,000 disclosures from state schools, which you can see in our new Dollars for Profs database. But there are tens of thousands that we haven't been able to get from other public universities, and countless more from private universities.

Sheldon Krimsky, a bioethics expert and professor of urban and environmental planning and policy at Tufts University, said that the fractured disclosure landscape deprives the public of key information for understanding potential bias in research. “Financial conflicts of interest influence outcomes,” he said. “Even if the researchers are honorable people, they don’t know how the interests affect their own research. Even honorable people can’t figure out why they have a predilection toward certain views. It’s because they internalize the values of people from whom they are getting funding, even if it’s not on the surface."

The info is here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

NACAC Agrees to Change Its Code of Ethics

Scott Jaschik
Originally published September 30-, 2019

When the Assembly of the National Association for College Admission Counseling has in years past debated measures to regulate the recruiting of international students or the proper rules for waiting lists and many other issues, debate has been heated. It was anything but heated this year, although the issue before the delegates was arguably more important than any of those.

Delegates voted Saturday -- 211 to 3 -- to strip provisions from the Code of Ethics and Professional Practice that may violate antitrust laws. The provisions are:

  • Colleges must not offer incentives exclusive to students applying or admitted under an early decision application plan. Examples of incentives include the promise of special housing, enhanced financial aid packages, and special scholarships for early decision admits. Colleges may, however, disclose how admission rates for early decision differ from those for other admission plans."
  • College choices should be informed, well-considered, and free from coercion. Students require a reasonable amount of time to identify their college choices; complete applications for admission, financial aid, and scholarships; and decide which offer of admission to accept. Once students have committed themselves to a college, other colleges must respect that choice and cease recruiting them."
  • Colleges will not knowingly recruit or offer enrollment incentives to students who are already enrolled, registered, have declared their intent, or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions. May 1 is the point at which commitments to enroll become final, and colleges must respect that. The recognized exceptions are when students are admitted from a wait list, students initiate inquiries themselves, or cooperation is sought by institutions that provide transfer programs."
  • Colleges must not solicit transfer applications from a previous year’s applicant or prospect pool unless the students have themselves initiated a transfer inquiry or the college has verified prior to contacting the students that they are either enrolled at a college that allows transfer recruitment from other colleges or are not currently enrolled in a college."

Before they approved the measure to strip the provisions, the delegates approved (unanimously) rules that would limit discussion, but they didn't need the rules. There was no discussion on stripping the provisions, which most NACAC members learned of only at the beginning of the month. The Justice Department has been investigating NACAC for possible violations of antitrust laws for nearly two years, but the details of that investigation have not been generally known for most of that time. The Justice Department believes that with these rules, colleges are colluding to take away student choices.

The info is here.

The Moral Rot of the MIT Media Lab

Image result for mit media labJustin Peters
Originally published September 8, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

I made my final emotional break with the Media Lab in 2016, when its now-disgraced former director Joi Ito announced the launch of its inaugural “Disobedience Award,” which sought to celebrate “responsible, ethical disobedience aimed at challenging the norms, rules, or laws that sustain society’s injustices” and which was “made possible through the generosity of Reid Hoffman, Internet entrepreneur, co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, and most importantly an individual who cares deeply about righting society’s wrongs.” I realized that the things I had once found so exciting about the Media Lab—the architecturally distinct building, the quirky research teams, the robots and the canisters and the exhibits—amounted to a shrewd act of merchandising intended to lure potential donors into cutting ever-larger checks. The lab’s leaders weren’t averse to making the world a better place, just as long as the sponsors got what they wanted in the process.

It is this moral vacuity that has now thrown the Media Lab and MIT into an existential crisis. After the financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in July on federal sex-trafficking charges, journalists soon learned that Epstein enjoyed giving money to scientists almost as much as he enjoyed coercing girls into sex. The Media Lab was one beneficiary of Epstein’s largesse. Over the past several years, Ito accepted approximately $1.725 million from Epstein, who was already a convicted felon at the time Ito took charge of the place in 2011; $525,000 was earmarked for the lab, while the rest of the money went to Ito’s private startup investment funds. The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow further reported on Friday that Epstein helped secure an additional $7.5 million for the Media Lab from other wealthy donors, and that the lab sought to hide the extent of its relationship with Epstein. Ito was Epstein’s contact at the Media Lab. The director even visited Epstein’s private Caribbean island as part of the courtship process.

The info is here.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Study: College Presidents Prioritizing Student Mental Health

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
Originally posted August 12, 2019

With college students reporting problems with anxiety and depression more than ever before, and suicides now a big problem on campuses, university presidents are responding accordingly.

More than 80 percent of top university executives say that mental health is more of a priority on campus than it was three years ago, according to a new report released today by the American Council on Education.

"Student mental health concerns have escalated over the last 10 years," the report states. "We wanted to know how presidents were responding to this increase. To assess short-term changes, we asked presidents to reflect on the last three years on their campus and whether they have observed an increase, decrease, or no change in how they prioritize mental health."

ACE, which represents more than 1,700 college and university presidents, surveyed more than 400 college and university leaders from two- and four-year public and private institutions. About 78 percent of those surveyed were at four-year universities, and the remainder led two-year institutions.

The association found 29 percent of all the presidents surveyed received reports of students with mental health issues once a week or more. About 42 percent of the presidents reported hearing about these problems at least a few times every month. As a result, presidents have allocated more funding to addressing student mental health problems -- 72 percent of the presidents indicated they had spent more money on mental health initiatives than they did three years ago. One unnamed president even reported spending $15 million on a new “comprehensive student well-being building.”

The info is here.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Federal Watchdog Reports EPA Ignored Ethics Rules

Alyssa Danigelis
Originally published July 17, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency failed to comply with federal ethics rules for appointing advisory committee members, the General Accounting Office concluded this week. President Trump’s EPA skipped disclosure requirements for new committee members last year, according to the federal watchdog.

Led by Andrew Wheeler, the EPA currently manages 22 committees that advise the agency on a wide range of issues, including developing regulations and managing research programs.

However, in fiscal year 2018, the agency didn’t follow a key step in its process for appointing 20 committee members to the Science Advisory Board (SAB) and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), the report says.

“SAB is the agency’s largest committee and CASAC is responsible for, among other things, reviewing national ambient air-quality standards,” the report noted. “In addition, when reviewing the step in EPA’s appointment process related specifically to financial disclosure reporting, we found that EPA did not consistently ensure that [special government employees] appointed to advisory committees met federal financial disclosure requirements.”

The GAO also pointed out that the number of committee members affiliated with academic institutions shrank.

The info is here.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The 'debate of the century': what happened when Jordan Peterson debated Slavoj Žižek

Stephen Marche
The Guardian
Originally published April 20, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

The great surprise of this debate turned out to be how much in common the old-school Marxist and the Canadian identity politics refusenik had.

One hated communism. The other hated communism but thought that capitalism possessed inherent contradictions. The first one agreed that capitalism possessed inherent contradictions. And that was basically it. They both wanted the same thing: capitalism with regulation, which is what every sane person wants. The Peterson-Žižek encounter was the ultra-rare case of a debate in 2019 that was perhaps too civil.

They needed enemies, needed combat, because in their solitudes, they had so little to offer. Peterson is neither a racist nor a misogynist. He is a conservative. He seemed, in person, quite gentle. But when you’ve said that, you’ve said everything. Somehow hectoring mobs have managed to turn him into an icon of all they are not. Remove him from his enemies and he is a very poor example of a very old thing – the type of writer whom, from Samuel Smiles’ Self-Help to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, have promised simple answers to complex problems. Rules for Life, as if there were such things.

The info is here.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Duke agrees to pay $112.5 million to settle allegation it fraudulently obtained federal research funding

Seth Thomas Gulledge
Triangle Business Journal
Originally posted March 25, 2019

Duke University has agreed to pay $112.5 million to settle a suit with the federal government over allegations the university submitted false research reports to receive federal research dollars.

This week, the university reached a settlement over allegations brought forward by whistleblower Joseph Thomas – a former Duke employee – who alleged that during his time working as a lab research analyst in the pulmonary, asthma and critical care division of Duke University Health Systems, the clinical research coordinator, Erin Potts-Kant, manipulated and falsified studies to receive grant funding.

The case also contends that the university and its office of research support, upon discovering the fraud, knowingly concealed it from the government.

According to court documents, Duke was accused of submitting claims to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) between 2006-2018 that contained "false or fabricated data" cause the two agencies to pay out grant funds they "otherwise would not have." Those fraudulent submissions, the case claims, netted the university nearly $200 million in federal research funding.

“Taxpayers expect and deserve that federal grant dollars will be used efficiently and honestly. Individuals and institutions that receive research funding from the federal government must be scrupulous in conducting research for the common good and rigorous in rooting out fraud,” said Matthew Martin, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina in a statement announcing the settlement. “May this serve as a lesson that the use of false or fabricated data in grant applications or reports is completely unacceptable.”

The info is here.

Friday, April 5, 2019

A Prominent Economist’s Death Prompts Talk of Mental Health in the Professoriate

Emma Pettit
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Originally posted March 19, 2019

Reaching Out

For Bruce Macintosh, Krueger’s death was a reminder of how isolating academe can be. Macintosh is a professor of physics at Stanford University who was employed at a national laboratory, not a university, until about five years ago. That culture was totally different, he said. At other workplaces, Macintosh said, you interact regularly with peers and supervisors, who are paying close attention to you and your work.

“There’s nothing like that in an academic environment,” he said. “You can shut down completely for a year, and no one will notice,” as long as the grades get turned in.

It seems, Macintosh said, as if there should be multiple layers of support within a university department to help faculty members who experience depression or other forms of mental illness. But certain barriers still exist between professors and the resources they need.

A 2017 survey of 267 faculty members with mental-health histories or mental illnesses found that most respondents had little to no familiarity with accommodations at their institution. Even fewer reported using them.

The info is here.

Note: Career success, wealth, and prestige are not protective factors for suicide attempts or completions.  Interpersonal connections to family and friends, access to quality mental health care, problem-solving skills, meaning in life, and purposefulness are.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Proceedings Start Against ‘Sokal Squared’ Hoax Professor

Katherine Mangan
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Originally posted January 7, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

The Oregon university’s institutional review board concluded that Boghossian’s participation in the elaborate hoax had violated Portland State’s ethical guidelines, according to documents Boghossian posted online. The university is considering a further charge that he had falsified data, the documents indicate.

Last month Portland State’s vice president for research and graduate studies, Mark R. McLellan, ordered Boghossian to undergo training on human-subjects research as a condition for getting further studies approved. In addition, McLellan said he had referred the matter to the president and provost because Boghossian’s behavior "raises ethical issues of concern."

Boghossian and his supporters have gone on the offensive with an online press kit that links to emails from Portland State administrators. It also includes a video filmed by a documentary filmmaker that shows Boghossian reading an email that asks him to appear before the institutional review board in October. In the video, Boghossian discusses the implications of potentially being found responsible for professional misconduct. He’s speaking with his co-authors, Helen Pluckrose, a self-described "exile from the humanities" who studies medieval religious writings about women, and James A. Lindsay, an author and mathematician.

The info is here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

What can we learn from Dartmouth?

Leah Somerville
Originally posted November 20, 2018

Here are two excerpts:

There are many urgent discussions that are needed right now to address the cultural problems in academia. We need to find ways to support trainees who have experienced misconduct, to identify malicious actors, to reconsider departmental and institutional policies, and more. Here, I would like to start a discussion aimed at the scientific community of primarily well-intentioned actors, using my own experiences as a lens to consider how we can all be more attuned to the slippery slope on which a toxic environment can be built.

Blurry boundaries. In scientific laboratories, it can be easy to blur lines between the professional and the personal. People in labs spend a lot of time together, travel together, and in some cases socialize together. Some people covet a close, “family-like” lab environment. For faculty members, what constitutes appropriate boundaries is not always obvious; after all, new faculty members are often barely older than their trainees. But whether founded on good intentions or not, close personal relationships can be a slippery slope because of the inherent power differential between trainee and mentor.


Shame and isolation. It is harder to appreciate the sheer dysfunctionality of an environment if you believe you are experiencing it alone. Yet even if multiple individuals have similar experiences, they may hesitate to share them out of fear and shame or a sense of pluralistic ignorance. The result? Toxic environments can remain shrouded in secrecy, allowing them to perpetuate and intensify over time. For example, a friend of mine from this era did not tell me until years later that she was the recipient of an unwanted sexual advance. This event and its aftermath had an excruciating impact on her experience as a graduate student, yet she suffered through this turmoil in silence.

It is crucial that people in positions of power appreciate the shame and isolation that can accompany being a recipient of inappropriate behavior and the great personal cost of coming forward. Silence should not be interpreted as a signal that the events were not serious and damaging. Moreover, students need to perceive that clear channels of support and communication are available to them.

The info is here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Georgia Tech has had a ‘dramatic increase’ in ethics complaints, president says

Eric Stirgus
The Atlantic Journal-Constitution
Originally published November 6, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in September Georgia Tech is often slow in completing ethics investigations. Georgia Tech took an average of 102 days last year to investigate a complaint, the second-longest time of any college or university in the University System of Georgia, according to a report presented in April to the state’s Board of Regents. Savannah State University had the longest average time, 135 days.

Tuesday’s meeting is the kick-off to more than a week’s worth of discussions at Tech to improve its ethics culture. University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley ordered Georgia Tech to update him on what officials there are doing to improve after reports found problems such as a top official who was a paid board member of a German-based company that had contracts with Tech. Peterson’s next update is due Monday.

A few employees told Peterson they’re concerned that many administrators are now afraid to make decisions and asked the president what’s being done to address that. Peterson acknowledged “there’s some anxiety on campus” and asked employees to “embrace each other” as they work through what he described as an embarrassing chapter in the school’s history.

The info is here.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Dartmouth Allowed 3 Professors to Sexually Harass and Assault Students, Lawsuit Charges

Nell Gluckman
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Originally published November 15, 2018

Seven current and former students sued Dartmouth College on Thursday, saying it had failed to protect them from three psychology and brain-science professors who sexually harassed and assaulted them. In the lawsuit, filed in a federal court in New Hampshire, they say that when they and others reported horrific treatment, the college did nothing, allowing the professors’ behavior to continue until last spring, when one retired and the other two resigned.

The 72-page complaint, which seeks class-action status, describes an academic department where heavy drinking, misogyny, and sexual harassment were normalized. It says that the three professors — Todd F. Heatherton, William M. Kelley, and Paul J. Whalen — “leered at, groped, sexted,” and “intoxicated” students. One former student alleges she was raped by Kelley, and a current student alleges she was raped by Whalen. Dartmouth ended a Title IX investigation after the professors left, and, as far as the complainants could tell, did not attempt to examine how the abuse occurred or how it could be prevented it from happening again, according to the complaint.

In a written statement, a Dartmouth spokesman said that college officials “respectfully but strongly disagree with the characterizations of Dartmouth’s actions in the complaint and will respond through our own court filings.”

The info is here.