Retraction Watch

Wrote about the retraction of academic articles, based on academic fraud. Based on article by David Malamed published in CPA Magazine, a journal for Canadian professional accountants, but where no academic fraud in relation to accounting was detailed. Went to the Retraction Watch website. A recent major example of academic fraud in accounting research occurred with respect to Dr. James E. Hunton of Bentley College. 30 retractions in total, including a number of papers co-authored with renowned accounting academic Robert Libby. Hunton was involved in extensive co-authorship; none of the papers retracted in this list of 25 involved Hunton as a sole author.

There was also a Canadian connection, where Hunton had a co-authored a paper retracted by the Canadian academic accounting journal, Contemporary Accounting Research.

It appears that Hunton was the source of the data, which others relied on to manipulate and then to interpret the results. So if one is not directly involved in the data collection, this is one potential result.

Would seem that a ready control would be to require that all data be made available online. Hunton countered inquiries about his data by saying that at least some of it was covered by confidentiality agreements, which were non-existent. He also tried to wipe his laptop of data, plus to change other data that was being questioned.

As of 2010, Hunton was one of the highest peer-ranked accounting researchers in America. He also held an endowed chair.

Concerns about the integrity of Hutton’s data, all related to co-authored papers, go back to papers published, and now retracted, as early as 1996.

Hunton was known as a research specialist in ethics and auditing.

He was published in the major academic accounting journals, including the preeminent journal, the Accounting Review. Could not the review editors have insisted that the data be publicly available, or accessible? Wouldn’t have mattered, in certain cases, but it would have been a partial control. One can still directly fake data, but its lack of logic would be more readily discoverable, if subject to public review.

Seems to easy to go on that train. Had an experience at one university where they were compelling students to evaluate each other in group projects. Centralized database. Penalty for not evaluating one’s peers was the withholding of marks. Must have been some time constraint on the data collection, because suddenly one of the collectors is advising another, perhaps unfortunately copied to me, that a number of my students must have dropped out. Wrote back that that was not the case. Response was silence. The collector preferred to categorize students as having dropped out, rather than to wait to compel disclosure, by withholding the grade. Yet those who are most reluctant to evaluate others perhaps have much to add to a data set like this, while those who jump at the chance to critically evaluate their fellow group members…

Well, if at an early stage of one’s academic career, one is prepared to miscategorize non-response data, seems like one is on an early journey on the Hunton train.

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About brucelarochelle

Practising Lawyer and Part-Time University Instructor (Accounting, Commercial Law, Organizational Behaviour); Part-Time Federal Tribunal Member. Non-practising Chartered Professional Accountant (Chartered Accountant and Certified Management Accountant).
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