This article, from Adage, illustrates an important aspect of research- ethics. A Dutch professor of psychology, who performed studies on women's responses to beauty product ads, and allegedly falsified the results in at least 30 scholarly papers. the "Lying Dutchman" publicly announced his regret for producing misleading information and wrote, "I have failed as a scientist and researcher,I feel ashamed for it and have great regret," on the Tilburg website.
Published in the University of Chicago Press' Journal of Consumer Research, Mr. Stapel's article reports that women who saw fashion or beauty products in ads had lower self-esteem than women who viewed the same items in a nonadvertising setting. It is one of many studies being investigated by the committee at Tilburg.
This situation illustrates flaws in the research system because Stapel's work passed peer review, and not just on one occasion but nearly 50. "The peer-review process pretty well sorts out the bad eggs," says Geoffrey Precourt, editor of the Advertising Research Foundation's Journal of Advertising Research. "It should be the mission of all the editors ... to step up their review process to guard against future frauds."
This situation also displays the harm done to the reputation of research. " It has done great harm to science and the field of social psychology in particular," says the Tilburg research committee. Not only will peers in the research industry have to me more critical, but individuals in the public will also be more weary of research findings after hearing about this embarrassment event.
According to the article, the "fraud" involved the creation of data from non-existent participants. Stapel reportedly collected data from 583 females, provided the data, and analyzed his findings. There is no evidence that other researchers who partook in the study had any knowledge of the unethical actions.
The closing paragraph tof the article reads: "Mr. Barocci ventured that Mr. Stapel "isn't the first guy to abuse the system." Academicians are "intent to publish stuff," he said. "If [the work] can get into journals, readers assume ... they can trust the material. Their trust is what has been violated"
I think this paragraph is very powerful. Academicians are stereotyped as having little concern over the validity or reliability of their findings, rather they are just pleased to get their name published. It also highlights that individuals who read scholarly articles assume the results are bulletproof. This criticizes other researchers, and even people like students, professors, and knowledge seekers who learn from such materials.
After reading this article, I can't help but think about the ethics unit we studied in this class. Things such as honestly, debriefing, informed consent and the use of appropriate language are all important aspects of ethics that should be implemented by every researcher and research organization.