Published: Sun, September 23, 2018
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Cornell review finds academic misconduct by food researcher

Cornell review finds academic misconduct by food researcher

Professor Brian Wansink, former head of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and a preeminent researcher on behavior and eating, tendered his resignation and was removed from all teaching and research, university provost Michael I. Kotlikoff said in a statement.

In an internal review conducted at JAMA's request, a Cornell faculty committee reported a litany of faults with Wansink's research, including "misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship".

Wansink, who has helped update the US dietary guidelines, resigned and will leave Cornell in June.

Thursday's announcement comes a day after six more of Wansink's papers were retracted. They appeared in journals published by the JAMA Network, which include the Journal of the American Medical Association. Wansink said in response Wednesday that he did not keep the original "pencil and paper surveys and coding sheets" after the data from them were combined into spreadsheets.

In a statement published today, Howard Bauchner, MD, editor in cief of JAMA, said the journal opened its investigation after concerns were raised in May, and finally received word from Cornell University that they can not support Dr Wansink's work.

Wansink has now had a total of 13 papers retracted, one twice, according to the Retraction Watch website.

However, questions started being asked about the validity of his work in January 2017, when a team of Dutch, American, and British/Irish scientists found no evidence to support 150 of his findings in a series called "the pizza papers".

All that began to unravel, though, when Wansink published a blog post in November 2016 that other researchers said demonstrated "highly questionable" and "irregular" research practices.

Wansink's work has been featured in The New York Times and O, the Oprah Magazine, and on the Today Show, but the American Medical Association has now said it can not verify that the results of at least a half-dozen of his studies are valid.

Cornell said Wansink will spend the remainder of his time at the school co-operating with the university's ongoing review of his research.

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