Ivan Oransky points us to this hilarious story of a retracted paper in Psychological Science. The hilarious part is not the article itself (a dry-as-dust collection of small-N experiments with open-ended data-exclusion and data-analysis rules, accompanied by the usual scattering of statistically significant p-values in the garden) or even the reason for the retraction:
A university investigation found the data had been manipulated. . . . the notice cites an unnamed graduate student as the source of the manipulation.
And the student’s supervisor, Prof. Will Hart, is concerned:
You feel devastated. You feel . . . yeah, I don’t know. Very uncertain. Worried, embarrassed. And honestly concerned for the student. I knew this individual quite well.
OK, now for the funny part. We don’t know who the student is, because Hart wrote the paper entirely in the first person (“In the research reported here, I examined . . . In particular, I examined . . . In four experiments, I tested . . . Specifically, I examined . . . I propose . . . I hypothesized . . . I predicted . . . I hypothesized . . . In four experiments, I examined . . . I measured . . . I predicted . . . I summed . . . I then measured . . . my results . . . Subsequently, I told participants that I was interested in their experience during the task.
No coauthor, no acknowledgements, no nothing. According to the report at Retraction Watch:
Hart explained the student was not listed as an author on the paper because he or she only collected the data, and didn’t participate in writing the manuscript.
Damn! Ya gotta watch your back. Go rip of a student’s data with no credit, and they just might sabotage you.
In all seriousness, this kind of thing can happen. For example, a coauthor and I are writing a paper using survey data. We didn’t collect the data; we paid a survey organization to do it. We’ll credit the organization in our paper, but we can’t be sure the data are real; we didn’t collect the data ourselves; and we don’t know all the people on the data chain. Political science isn’t like physics where the list of coauthors includes everyone from the lab assistants to the P.I. to the guy who sets up the magnets on the accelerator.