A prominent Harvard behavioral scientist who undertook studies about honesty is under fire for allegedly fabricating papers that she worked on, according to a report.
Harvard Business School’s Francesca Gino allegedly chalked up phony results tied to studies, including one focused on honest behavior, the New York Times reported.
She’s been placed on leave, according to her business school web page, which the Times reported showed she was still on the job as recently as mid-May.
She has published 135 articles since 2007, according to the Chronicle for Higher Education.
In a blog, called DataColada, run by three behavioral scientists, it alleged fraud in four academic papers that Gino co-authored.
They said they presented evidence of fraud to Harvard in the fall of 2021 tied to a 2012 paper and another three papers she was a part of.
The 2012 paper relied on three separate studies, including one that Gino spearheaded.
The paper claimed that people who fill out tax forms or insurance documents are more honest if they attest to the truth of their responses at the top of the page instead of the bottom, the Times reported.
One of the experiments asked about 100 participants to complete a worksheet of 20 puzzles, and for every puzzle cracked they would get $1, the Times reported.
Participants later submitted a form saying how much money they earned from the puzzle-solving but were led to believe that they wouldn’t get caught if they cheated.
In reality, researchers would be able to know how many puzzles were solved.
The study determined participants were more truthful if they attested to the accuracy of their responses at the top of the form, and not the bottom, but the three scientists — Uri Simonsohn, Leif Nelson and Joseph Simmons — in their blog post alleged some of the data had been tampered with, according to the Times.
Back in 2021, the same three behavioral scientists, pinpointed evidence that another study in the same paper seemed to rely on bad data, the Times reported.
University of Pennsylvania Wharton School behavior scientist Maurice Schweitzer told the Times he was reviewing eight papers he worked with Gino on.
He noted others were doing the same.
The accusations lodged against Gino were leading to major “reverberations in the academic community” because Gino has “so many collaborators, so many articles, who is really a leading scholar in the field,” he told the Times.
Gino has been honored as one of the top 40 Business Professors under 40 and has notched numerous awards.
Her studies have also been featured in an array of news articles and broadcasts.