Research fraud: salutary reading for the Summer holidays

Introduces Diederik Stapel's novel Derailment, a salutary tale of a researcher's downfall


Some of you might remember one of the most highly publicised cases of research fraud in recent years: in 2011 Dutch Social Psychologist Diederik Stapel was found to have fabricated data for dozens of his papers. It led to somewhat of a crisis in Social Psychology and widespread attention to research misconduct. Partly related to this was the replication crisis, which led journals in many disciplines, including Business & Management, to become a bit more welcoming towards replication studies.

In 2012 Diederik Stapel published his account in his book "Ontsporing" ("Derailment"). Although one might speculate about his motives, the Association for Psychological Science called the book a unique, devastating, and a must-read for anyone with an interest in science. I found it to be quite a page-turner, providing insights not only into one person's downfall, but academia more generally.

Unfortunately, the book was published only in Dutch, but such was its appeal that it was soon translated into English by a volunteer Nick Brown (thanks Nick, I know how it feels). The book is available as a PDF and also as an ebook. For a quick taster, you can find some excerpts here.

Nick also has a very nice blog and more generally doesn't shy away from exposing dubious science even when he was still a Master's student. I did a bit of work on this theme myself during my PhD studies with Are referencing errors undermining our scholarship and credibility?, but Nick's work goes quite a lot further than that. I don't understand the maths, but I love the spirit of critical scholarship! An inspiration for all research students and early career researchers.

This will be my last post before my Summer blogging holiday in July and August. The British summer is too short to spend more time behind your computer than is strictly necessary. Have a great summer all!

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