"Morality” Professor Responsible for Research Misconduct Resigns

August 11, 2011
Arline Kaplan

Volume 28, Issue 8

Psychology Professor Marc Hauser, who last year was found solely responsible for 8 counts of scientific misconduct following an internal investigation, has resigned from his tenured position at Harvard University.

Harvard University Psychology Professor Marc Hauser, who last year was found solely responsible for 8 counts of scientific misconduct following an internal investigation, has resigned from his tenured position at the university effective August 1, according to recent press reports.

“While on leave over the past year, I have begun doing some extremely interesting and rewarding work focusing on the educational needs of at-risk teenagers,” Hauser wrote in a July 7 resignation letter to Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith. “I have also been offered some exciting opportunities in the private sector. While I may return to teaching and research in the years to come, I look forward to focusing my energies in the coming year on these new and interesting challenges.”

At Harvard for 18 years, Hauser became a popular professor who conducted research and wrote books and journal articles on the abilities of nonhuman primates and the evolutionary foundations of morality.

“He took a leave of absence after a faculty committee concluded a 3-year investigation that was first reported last August by the Globe,” wrote Carolyn Johnson, a Globe reporter. “But he was due to return to the university this fall, a prospect that made many of his former colleagues uncomfortable.”

Last February, a majority of Harvard’s psychology faculty had voted not to allow him to teach in the department in the upcoming academic year, reported The Harvard Crimson. Also, it is believed that a federal investigation into possible misuse of federal grants is still under way, since last year Harvard submitted its internal investigation’s findings to the Office of Research Integrity.

The Crimson article went on to note there is a replication of some of Hauser’s contested data. “But scientists are split over whether these results vindicate the professor, with some arguing that the replications do not prove a proper conduct in the original studies. Others also point to a potential conflict of interest in the fact that it was Hauser who replicated the experiments in question,” the article said.

To read about the replication of Hauser’s original study published in Science, go to http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/04/science-publishes-replication-of.html.

To read Psychiatric Times’ original article about Hauser published last year, go to http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/news/content/article/10168/1704691.