You will recall that some time ago (see links below for context) primatologist Marc Hauser resigned from his position on the faculty at Harvard amid accusations of improper conduct in his prior research. Harvard had made certain findings which they kept to themselves at that time, pending a review by the Department of Health and Human Services, which ultimately oversees this sort of thing. The HHS report is now out, and reproduced below.
I knew Marc and taught with him a few times, while I was a graduate student and he replaced Terry Deacon as the brain-guy for the Anthropology Department. Then, I graduated and was absorbed into a faculty role, teaching a class for the then new Mind Brain Behavior program, tutorials for Biological Anthropology, etc. At about the same time, Marc applied for tenure in the anthropology department but was denied, but Steven Pinker, something of a mentor for Marc at that point, lobbied on his behalf (as did others) and he was brought into a tenure slot in the Psychology Department. I knew a number of undergraduates and graduate students who worked with him in his lab in William James Hall, where he managed research with a small “colony” (if that is the correct term) of cotton-top tamarins. I never personally visited the lab. We’ve kept in touch at a low level since then, but there is nothing interesting to report there. I can say that the report concurs in detail with what those of use who learned over time of this situation were aware. The biggest concern many of us has was that the students who worked with Marc would be negatively affected by all of this. I am certain, and the details in this report serve to increase my own confidence in this, that those students were not involved in initiating nor did they knowingly take part in any research misconduct. In fact, quite the opposite. Say no more.
I am angry at Marc. He and I were never close friends but we got along well enough, and worked together on the teaching aspects of our respective jobs. There are three things I remember most about Marc. One is the silly costume he wore one year for the halloween party. The second is the fact that he called his daughter, who due to family circumstances lived on the other side of the country with her mom, every day and talked to her for an hour. The third is that he was always going on and on and on about this or that paper that was about to be published by him, and about the astounding results he was getting form his cotton-tops.
I’m angry because it is a bad thing when a researcher rises to prominence in his field then it turns out that some of his important work was, essentially, made up. This makes science look bad. We don’t need that. I’m angry with Marc because he is one of the behavioral biologists who pushed for a biological, Darwinian understanding of morals and ethics, but ended up lacking in those areas, which makes the biological study of important features of the human mind look even colder and more soulless (in a secular way, of course) than it really is. I’m also angry, not specifically with Marc, that for years Marc is what academic success looked like. I would rather that it looked like something else. That is all I have to say at this time.
Now, my prior links on this maneno, then the report:
- What I know about Marc Hauser, the recently ‘investigated’ Harvard primatologist
- The Marc Hauser Maneno. Truth Will Out.
- Chronicle Breaks Hauser Details
- Harvard Confirms Scientific Misconduct by Marc Hauser
- How do we judge those who act in an immoral or unethical manner?
- Scientific Research Gone Bad
- Jamie Jones on The Anthropology Maneno
- Marc Hauser has resigned
*DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES *
Office of the Secretary
Findings of Research Misconduct
AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, HHS.
SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has taken final action in the following case:
Marc Hauser, Ph.D., Harvard University: Based on the report of an investigation conducted by Harvard University (Harvard) and additional analysis conducted by ORI in its oversight review, ORI found that Dr. Marc Hauser, former Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard, engaged in research misconduct in research supported by National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), National Institutes of Health (NIH), grants P51 RR00168–37 and CM–5-P40 RR003640–13, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), NIH, grant 5 R01 DC005863, and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), NIH, grant 5 F31 MH075298.
ORI found that Respondent engaged in research misconduct as follows:
- Respondent published fabricated data in Figure 2 of the paper Hauser, M.D., Weiss, D., & Marcus, G. “Rule learning by cotton-top tamarins.” Cognition 86:B15-B22, 2002, which reported data on experiments designed to determine whether tamarin monkeys habituated to a sound pattern consisting of three sequential syllables (for example AAB) would then distinguish a different sound pattern (i.e., ABB). Figure 2 is a bar graph showing results obtained with 14 monkeys exposed either to the same or different sound patterns than they were habituated to. Because the tamarins were never exposed to the same sound pattern after habituation, half of the data in the graph was fabricated. Figure is also false because the actual height of the bars for the monkeys purportedly receiving the same test pattern that they had been habituated to totaled 16 animals (7.14 subjects as responding and 8.87 subjects as non-responding).
Respondent retracted the paper in 2010 (Cognition 117:106).
- In two unpublished experiments designed to test whether or not tamarin monkeys showed a greater response to certain combinations of unsegmented strings of consonants and vowels than others, Respondent falsified the coding of some of the monkeys’ responses, making the results statistically significant when the results coded by others showed them to be non-significant. Respondent acknowledged to his collaborators that he miscoded some of the trials and that the study failed to provide support for the initial hypothesis.
This research was never written up for publication.
- In versions of a manuscript entitled “Grammatical Pattern Learning by Human Infants and Monkeys” submitted to Cognition, Science, and Nature, Respondent falsely described the methodology used to code the results for experiments 1 and 3 on “grammar expectancy violations” in tamarin monkeys either by claiming coding was done blindly or by fabricating values for inter-observer reliabilities when coding was done by only one observer, in both cases leading to a false proportion or number of animals showing a favorable response.
Specifically, in three different experiments in which tamarin monkeys were exposed first to human voice recordings of artificial sounds that followed grammatical structure and then exposed to stimuli that conformed to or violated that structure, Respondent (1) provided an incorrect description of the coding methodology by claiming in the early versions of the manuscripts that “two blind observers” coded trials and a third coded trials to resolve differences, while all of the coding for one experiment was done just by the Respondent, and (2) in a revised manuscript, while Respondent no longer mentioned “two blind observers, he claimed that “Inter-observer reliabilities ranged from 0.85 to 0.90,” a statement that is false because there was only one observer for one of the experiments.
Furthermore, in an earlier version of the manuscript, Respondent falsely reported that “16
out of 16 subjects” responded more to the ungrammatical rather than the grammatical stimuli for the predictive language condition, while records showed that one of the sixteen responded more to grammatical than ungrammatical stimuli, and one responded equally to grammatical and ungrammatical.
Respondent and his collaborators corrected all of these issues, including recoding of the
data for some of the experiments prior to the final submission and publication in Cognition 2007.
In the paper Hauser, M.D., Glynn, D., Wood, J. “Rhesus monkeys correctly read the goal-relevant gestures of a human agent.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274:1913–1918,
2007, Respondent falsely reported the results and methodology for one of seven experiments designed to determine whether rhesus monkeys were able to understand communicative gestures performed by a human.
Specifically, (1) in the “Pointing without food” trial, Respondent reported that 31/40 monkeys approached the target box while the records showed only 27 approached the target (both results are statistically significant), and (2) there were only 30 videotapes of the “Pointing without food” trials, while Respondent falsely claimed in the paper’s Materials and Methods that “each trial was videotaped.” Respondent was not responsible for the coding, analyses, or archiving but takes full responsibility for the falsification
reported in the published paper. Respondent and one of his coauthors replicated these findings with complete data sets and video records and published them in Proceedings Royal Society B 278(1702):58–159, 2011.
Respondent accepts responsibility for a false statement in the Methodology section for one experiment reported in the paper Wood, J.N., Glynn, D.D., Phillips, B.C., & Hauser, M.D. “The perception of rational, goal-directed action in nonhuman primates.” Science317:1402–1405, 2007. The statement in the paper’s supporting online material reads that “All individuals are … readily identifiable by natural markings along with chest and leg tattoos and ear notches.” In fact, only 50% of the subjects could be identified by this method, thus leading to the possibility of repeated testing of the same animal. Respondent and one of his coauthers replicated these findings with complete data sets and video records and published them in Science 332:537, 2011 (www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/317/5843/1402/DC2 – published online 25 April 2011).
Respondent engaged in research misconduct by providing inconsistent coding of data in his unpublished playback experiment with rhesus monkeys exploring an abstract pattern in the form of AXA by falsely changing the coding results where the prediction was that habituated animals were more likely to respond to an ungrammatical stimulus than a grammatical one. After an initial coding of the data by his research assistant, in which both Respondent and assistant agreed that an incorrect procedure was used, the Respondent recoded the 201 trials and his assistant coded a subset for a reliability check. The Respondent’s codes differed from the original in 36 cases, 29 of them in the theoretically predicted direction, thereby producing a statistically significant probability of p = <0.01. Respondent subsequently acknowledged to his collaborators that his coding was incorrect and that the study failed to provide support for the initial hypothesis. This research was never written up for publication.
Respondent neither admits nor denies committing research misconduct but accepts ORI has found evidence of research misconduct as set forth above and has entered into a Voluntary Settlement Agreement to resolve this matter. The settlement is not an admission of liability on the part of the Respondent. Dr. Hauser has voluntarily agreed for a period of three (3) years, beginning on August 9, 2012:
(1) to have any U.S. Public Health Service (PHS)-supported research supervised; Respondent agreed that prior to the submission of an application for PHS support for a research project on which the Respondent’s participation is proposed and prior to Respondent’s participation in any capacity on PHS-supported research, Respondent shall ensure that a plan for supervision of Respondent’s duties is submitted to ORI for approval; the supervision plan must be designed to ensure the scientific integrity of Respondent’s research contribution; Respondent agreed that he shall not participate in any PHS-supported research until such a supervision plan is submitted to and approved by ORI; Respondent agreed to maintain responsibility for compliance with the agreed upon supervision plan;
(2) that any institution employing him shall submit, in conjunction with each
application for PHS funds, or report, manuscript, or abstract involving PHS-supported research in which Respondent is involved, a certification to ORI that the data provided by Respondent are based on actual experiments or are otherwise legitimately derived, that the data, procedures, and methodology are accurately reported in the application, report, manuscript, or abstract, and that the text in such submissions is his own or properly cites the source of copied language and ideas; and
(3) to exclude himself voluntarily from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS including, but not limited to, service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Director, Division of Investigative Oversight
Office of Research Integrity
1101 Wootton Parkway, Suite 750
Rockville, MD 20852
Division of Investigative Oversight
Office of Research Integrity
[FR Doc. 2012–21992 Filed 09/05/2012 at 8:45 am; Publication Date: 09/06/2012]
A response by Marc Hausre published here:
The release of the ORI report concludes an investigation into my scientific conduct that has lasted five years. This has been a long and painful period for me, my family, friends and colleagues. To all who have been burdened by this, I send my sincere apologies. To those who have supported me, I am deeply grateful.
The investigation process required me to review, analyze and respond to questions concerning significant amounts of data, manuscripts, grant applications, and personal correspondences covering more than ten years.
Although I have fundamental differences with some of the findings in the ORI report, I acknowledge that I made mistakes. I tried to do too much, teaching courses, running a large lab of students, sitting on several editorial boards, directing the Mind, Brain & Behavior Program at Harvard, conducting multiple research collaborations, and writing for the general public. I let important details get away from my control, and as head of the lab, I take responsibility for all errors made within the lab, whether or not I was directly involved. I am saddened that this investigation has caused some to question all of my work, rather than the few papers and unpublished studies in question. Before, during and after the investigation, many of my lab’s research findings were replicated by independent researchers. I remain proud of the many important papers generated by myself, my collaborators and my students over the years. I am also deeply gratified to see my students carve out significant areas of research at major universities around the world.
I am relieved that this investigation is now complete, allowing me to turn my full energy to the next chapter of my career. Over the past year, I have blended my passion for teaching, science and humanitarian efforts to give back to those in need, focusing on at-risk youth. This work is deeply satisfying and I look forward to making new contributions to human welfare, education, and the role of scientific knowledge in understanding human nature.
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Science statement published here:
As Dean [Michael D.] Smith said two years ago, no university or college wants to see a member of the faculty found responsible for research misconduct, for such misconduct strikes at the core of our academic values. Rigid adherence to the scientific method and scrupulous attention to the integrity of research results are values we expect in every one of our faculty, students, and staff. The Office of Research Integrity’s findings reported in today’s Federal Register end the investigative process begun by Harvard by confirming Harvard’s conclusions of research misconduct with respect to certain of Dr. Hauser’s NIH-funded research.