February 11, 2018

EDITORIAL | Cornell Owes Answers on Wansink’s Research Blunders

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A series of six retractions and several corrections issued by Prof. Brian Wansink, marketing, director of the Food and Brand Lab, is deeply concerning and requires further investigation and explanation from the University.

The reputation of Cornell’s research is critical to the success of its students and faculty, and should be a predominant priority of the Administration. Faculty who produce research with inconsistent data or improper methods risk not only their own academic reputations, but those of all their colleagues, students and that of Cornell as a whole.

Cornell previously concluded that the errors found in some of Wansink’s research “did not constitute scientific misconduct.” However, the ongoing string of retractions is indicative of a pervasive lack of proper methodology and analysis. Cornell must further investigate the integrity of Wansink’s research findings and provide an explanation for the retractions and corrections — the University must do better than merely referring back to an outdated statement from last October. Without more detailed explanation from the University, people will not know if Cornell research can be trusted.

Cornell cannot support substandard or fraudulent research. It is a disservice to all at the University if the work of any researcher is found to be subpar or tainted. The University must make every effort to ensure researchers are working with proper academic integrity, and that those who are not meeting standards must be held accountable.