Harvard Professor [p109] Data Falsification (Part 1): “Clusterfake”

Uri, Joe, & Leif

This is the introduction to a four-part series of posts detailing evidence of fraud in four academic papers co-authored by Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino.

In 2021, we and a team of anonymous researchers examined a number of studies co-authored by Gino, because we had concerns that they contained fraudulent data. We discovered evidence of fraud in papers spanning over a decade, including papers published quite recently (in 2020).

In the Fall of 2021, we shared our concerns with Harvard Business School (HBS). Specifically, we wrote a report about four studies for which we had accumulated the strongest evidence of fraud. We believe that many more Gino-authored papers contain fake data. Perhaps dozens.

The process that ensued at HBS is confidential (for us also). But here are some things we know:

(1) As you can see on her Harvard home page (.htm), Gino has gone on “administrative leave”, and the name of her chaired position at HBS is no longer listed.

(2) We understand that Harvard had access to much more information than we did, including, where applicable, the original data collected using Qualtrics survey software. If the fraud was carried out by collecting real data on Qualtrics and then altering the downloaded data files, as is likely to be the case for three of these papers, then the original Qualtrics files would provide airtight evidence of fraud. (Conversely, if our concerns were misguided, then those files would provide airtight evidence that they were misguided.)