Harvard Professor Who Studies Honesty for a Living Accused of Faking Data

Professor Francesca Gino / Twitter
June 26, 2023

A Harvard professor who studies honesty has been accused of fabricating results in multiple papers published in peer-reviewed journals.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on June 16 that a 2012 paper co-written by Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School, relied on fraudulent data.

The paper purported to show that people who signed an honesty pledge at the beginning of a form were less likely to cheat on the form than those who signed at the end. The study was based on three different experiments conducted by five different researchers, which were then compiled into one paper.

One of the paper’s co-authors, Max Bazerman, told the Chronicle that Harvard University provided him with evidence proving that one of the experiments conducted had relied on fabricated data.

The paper received over 500 citations from other scholars and was even cited in a 2016 Obama administration report on social and behavioral sciences.

In 2015, the researchers wrote another paper reporting that they had been unable to replicate their results. In August 2021, a group of three other researchers posted findings on their blog showing that data for one of the experiments in the 2012 paper had been altered. A month later, the 2012 paper was retracted.

The blog, DataColada, has since posted further evidence that three other papers of which Gino was a co-author relied on falsified data and stated that they contacted Harvard Business School about their concerns in the fall of 2021. Bazerman told the Chronicle that three other papers are of "significant concern" to Harvard but declined to specify if they were the same ones identified by the blog authors.

Gino has co-authored dozens of studies on topics in behavioral science, including decision-making, leadership, as well as dishonesty and unethical behavior. She has also been a speaker and consultant to companies such as Google, Walmart, and Goldman Sachs.

She has been placed on administrative leave, according to her faculty bio. The Internet Archive shows that this was not the case as recently as mid-May.

Published under: Fraud , Harvard , Professors