Category Archives: Research

Academic researchers and their ideas.


After High-Profile Retraction, ‘Science’ Releases New Transparency Guidelines

The journal Science has released a new set of comprehensive guidelines for publishing research studies in an effort to make them more transparent, The New York Times reports. The release comes after the high-profile retraction of a study that purported to measure the ease with which individuals changed their opinions on the issue of gay marriage.

But Maria McNutt, the publication’s editor in chief, told the Times that the new guidelines wouldn’t have prevented the graduate-student co-author of t…


Princeton Rescinds Job Offer to Scholar Behind Discredited Gay-Marriage Study

Princeton University has rescinded its job offer to Michael LaCour, the graduate student at the University of California at Los Angeles who is accused of faking the data behind a much-publicized study of gay marriage. New York magazine’s Science of Us blog reports that Princeton said it had rescinded the offer of an assistant professorship “in recent days.”

Mr. LaCour was thrust into the spotlight last month when Donald P. Green, his co-author on a paper about changing minds on the issue of gay …


Republican Budget Would Slash U.S. Education Spending by $2.8 Billion

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled on Tuesday a spending bill for the 2016 fiscal year that would slash education spending by $2.8 billion over all, while providing increases for college-preparatory programs and the National Institutes of Health.

The measure, which an appropriations panel will take up on Wednesday, would revoke a $370-million surplus in Pell Grants, setting up the program for shortfalls in the future. But it would increase the maximum award in the short te…


Female Scientists Mock Nobel Laureate’s Remarks With #DistractinglySexy Campaign

Earlier this week the biochemist Richard T. (Tim) Hunt unleashed the following monologue to an unsuspecting audience at a journalism conference in South Korea:

Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry.

Since he made those remarks, which prompted Mr. Hunt to apologize and resign from an honorary professorship at University College London, women in the lab …


Will You Make Me the Happiest Co-Author in the World? (She Said Yes.)

Maybe the paleontologist Caleb M. Brown wanted to give his acknowledgments section some extra spice. See if you can spot the anomaly in the fine print of a recent paper, “A New Horned Dinosaur Reveals Convergent Evolution in Cranial Ornamentation in Ceratopsidae,” that he co-wrote in the journal Current Biology:

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 10.33.08 AM

I know, can you believe D. Tanke made the cut? (Kidding.)

Mr. Brown, a postdoctoral researcher at Canada’s Royal Tyrrell Museum, told CBC News that Ms. O’Brien had said yes, but also th…


New Question Is Raised About Michael LaCour: What Else Did He Make Up?

[Last updated (5/28/2015, 7:58 p.m.) with new information from an Emory University professor about Mr. LaCour's work.]

It looks as if another paper by Michael J. LaCour may be bogus.

On Thursday afternoon Gregory J. Martin, an assistant professor of political science at Emory University, published a paper on the university’s website that identifies multiple serious problems with a paper by Mr. LaCour on the effect of bias in the news media.

In that paper, Mr. LaCour, the UCLA graduate student wh…


W.Va. Court Shields Researcher’s Records on Health Effects of Mining

The West Virginia Supreme Court on Thursday shielded from disclosure a former West Virginia University researcher’s records of his work concerning the health effects of mountaintop-removal mining, The Charleston Gazette reported.

The scholar, Michael Hendryx, who is now a professor at Indiana University at Bloomington, led research that found that people living near mountaintop-removal mines faced higher risks of cancer and premature death. A mining company had sued the university for access to …


Temple U. Professor Is Charged With Offering China Sensitive Technology

The chairman of Temple University’s physics department has been charged in connection with an alleged scheme to provide China with sensitive U.S. defense technology, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Federal prosecutors said in a news release that the professor, Xi Xiaoxing, had been indicted on four counts of wire fraud. He allegedly sought prestigious appointments in China in exchange for providing information about a device invented by a private American company.

The charges were announced …


Co-Author Asks for Retraction of Much-Cited Gay-Marriage Study

[Updated (5/20/2015, 2:58 p.m.) with a statement from the journal Science.]

The data underlying a popular study that ostensibly showed that short conversations could change opinions on same-sex marriage may have been faked, the blog Retraction Watch reports. A co-author of a paper describing the study, “When Contact Changes Minds: An Experiment on Transmission of Support for Gay Equality,” has asked that the journal Science retract it.

An attempt to replicate the study turned up irregularities, …


U. of Kentucky Overhauls Body-Donation Program After Audit Finds Problems

The University of Kentucky on Tuesday said it was overhauling a program for handling bodies donated to science after an audit found problems with the program’s administration, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

The newspaper published an article in January describing significant backlogs that were preventing the remains of people who had donated their bodies from being buried.

“I want to apologize on behalf of the entire UK community for the failings we have uncovered in this important progra…