Harvard Monkey Researcher Replicates a Controversial Experiment

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Last summer, Harvard researcher Marc Hauser found himself at the center of a storm of controversy when the university brought eight charges of scientific misconduct against him. The specific charges have never been made public, but they had to do with eight of Hauser's articles, three published and five unpublished. Hauser, who studies animal cognition and works with tamarin monkeys, had lost the data on which two of the original published articles were based, and there were questions about his methodology and whether he'd done the experiments at all. But yesterday, the journal Science said that he'd successfully replicated the original experiment--which means Hauser has a bit more credibility than he did before, at least in some people's eyes.

Science published a correction to Hauser's original paper, saying that the data was missing in the earlier version "because the researcher who performed the experiments inadvertently failed to archive the original field notes." The correction prompted Bennett Galef Jr., an animal researcher at McMaster University, to tell The New York Times: "The fact that two of the three published papers have now been replicated and the third has been withdrawn suggests something is wrong, and it's not with Hauser."

Recommended Reading

There's still the matter of the third published article, probably the most controversial of the set. The Times notes that in that article, "the data did not support the published results, a serious problem that has not yet been explained." The Times goes on to say that "Dr. Hauser retracted the article last year without admitting misconduct."

And indeed, Science takes care to point out that Hauser's name isn't completely clear just yet. "We stress this new publication aims only to determine whether the original rhesus monkey experiments from the 2007 paper can be replicated," said the journal in a statement. "It has no bearing on questions raised about Dr. Hauser's larger body of work."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.