On Friday, Michael D. Smith, dean of the Harvard faculty of arts and sciences, issued a letter to the faculty confirming the inquiry and saying the eight instances of scientific misconduct involved problems of “data acquisition, data analysis, data retention, and the reporting of research methodologies and results.” No further details were given.
This is why we don’t just accept any old data and why we care about the methodology behind the numbers. Stuff like this always reminds me of an exam question that asked us to investigate the data from an article in a prominent scientific journal. The analysis was all wrong.
Sometimes data is wrong out of ignorance. Other times it’s wrong because people make stuff up. I can understand the former, but why you would ever do the latter is beyond me.
Update: More details on what happened from research assistants’ point of view on the Chronicle. [thx, Winawer]