Findings of Research Misconduct

Notice Number: NOT-OD-12-149

Key Dates
Release Date: September 10, 2012

Issued by
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)


SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has taken final action in the following case:

Marc Hauser, Ph.D., Harvard University: Based on the report of an investigation conducted by Harvard University (Harvard) and additional analysis conducted by ORI in its oversight review, ORI found that Dr. Marc Hauser, former Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard, engaged in research misconduct in research supported by National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), National Institutes of Health (NIH), grants P51 RR00168-37 and CM-5-P40 RR003640-13, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), NIH, grant 5 R01 DC005863, and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), NIH, grant 5 F31 MH075298.

ORI found that Respondent engaged in research misconduct as follows:

Respondent retracted the paper in 2010 (Cognition 117:106).

Specifically, in three different experiments in which tamarin monkeys were exposed first to human voice recordings of artificial sounds that followed grammatical structure and then exposed to stimuli that conformed to or violated that structure, Respondent (1) provided an incorrect description of the coding methodology by claiming in the early versions of the manuscripts that ``two blind observers' coded trials and a third coded trials to resolve differences, while all of the coding for one experiment was done just by the Respondent, and (2) in a revised manuscript, while Respondent no longer mentioned "two blind observers", he claimed that "Inter-observer reliabilities ranged from 0.85 to 0.90," a statement that is false because there was only one observer for one of the experiments.

Furthermore, in an earlier version of the manuscript, Respondent falsely reported that "16 out of 16 subjects' responded more to the ungrammatical rather than the grammatical stimuli for the predictive language condition, while records showed that one of the sixteen responded more to grammatical than ungrammatical stimuli, and one responded equally to grammatical and ungrammatical.

Respondent and his collaborators corrected all of these issues, including recoding of the data for some of the experiments prior to the final submission and publication in Cognition 2007.

In the paper Hauser, M.D., Glynn, D., Wood, J. "Rhesus monkeys correctly read the goal-relevant gestures of a human agent.' Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274:1913-1918, 2007, Respondent falsely reported the results and methodology for one of seven experiments designed to determine whether rhesus monkeys were able to understand communicative gestures performed by a human.

Specifically, (1) in the "Pointing without food' trial, Respondent reported that 31/40 monkeys approached the target box while the records showed only 27 approached the target (both results are statistically significant), and (2) there were only 30 videotapes of the "Pointing without food' trials, while Respondent falsely claimed in the paper's Materials and Methods that "each trial was videotaped.' Respondent was not responsible for the coding, analyses, or archiving but takes full responsibility for the falsifications reported in the published paper. Respondent and one of his coauthors replicated these findings with complete data sets and video records and published them in Proceedings Royal Society B 278(1702):58-159, 2011.

Respondent and one of his coauthors replicated these findings with complete data sets and video records and published them in Science 332:537, 2011 ( published online 25 April 2011). 

Respondent neither admits nor denies committing research misconduct but accepts ORI has found evidence of research misconduct as set forth above and has entered into a Voluntary Settlement Agreement to resolve this matter. The settlement is not an admission of liability on the part of the Respondent. Dr. Hauser has voluntarily agreed for a period of three (3) years, beginning on August 9, 2012:

(1) To have any U.S. Public Health Service (PHS)-supported research supervised; Respondent agreed that prior to the submission of an application for PHS support for a research project on which the Respondent's participation is proposed and prior to Respondent's participation in any capacity on PHS-supported research, Respondent shall ensure that a plan for supervision of Respondent's duties is submitted to ORI for approval; the supervision plan must be designed to ensure the scientific integrity of Respondent's research contribution; Respondent agreed that he shall not participate in any PHS-supported research until such a supervision plan is submitted to and approved by ORI; Respondent agreed to maintain responsibility for compliance with the agreed upon supervision plan;

(2) That any institution employing him shall submit, in conjunction with each application for PHS funds, or report, manuscript, or abstract involving PHS-supported research in which Respondent is involved, a certification to ORI that the data provided by Respondent are based on actual experiments or are otherwise legitimately derived, that the data, procedures, and methodology are accurately reported in the application, report, manuscript, or abstract, and that the text in such submissions is his own or properly cites the source of copied language and ideas; and

(3) To exclude himself voluntarily from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS including, but not limited to, service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or as a consultant.


John Dahlberg, Ph.D.
Division of Investigative Oversight
Office of Research Integrity
1101 Wootton Parkway, Suite 750
Rockville, MD 20852
(240) 453-8800

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