Miltenberg: “Embattled Harvard Honesty Professor Accused of Plagiarism,” Science Magazine


Harvard University honesty researcher Francesca Gino, whose work has come under fire for suspected data falsification, may also have plagiarized passages in some of her high-profile publications. A book chapter co-authored by Gino, who was found by a 2023 Harvard Business School (HBS) investigation to have committed research misconduct, contains numerous passages of text with striking similarities to 10 earlier sources. The sources include published papers and student theses, according to an analysis shared with Science by University of Montreal psychologist Erinn Acland. Science has confirmed Acland’s findings and identified at least 15 additional passages of borrowed text in Gino’s two books, Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life and Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan. Some passages duplicate text from news reports or blogs. Others contain phrasing identical to passages from academic literature. The extent of duplication varies between passages, but all contain multiple identical phrases, as well as clear paraphrases and significant structural similarity. Gino is “steadfast in her commitment to uncovering the truth in each instance, responding decisively and correcting the record if necessary,” her lawyer, Andrew Miltenberg, said in a statement. “It is wildly unfair and prejudicial to litigate these accusations in the volatile domain of public opinion. History has shown the peril of premature judgment, particularly within the scientific community, where reputations can be irreparably tarnished.” The HBS investigation recommended the university begin the process of terminating Gino’s employment, and her institutional profile has stated since June 2023 that she is on administrative leave. Debora Weber-Wulff, a plagiarism expert at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences, says Science’s findings are “quite serious” and warrant further investigation by the publishers and universities. HBS and Harvard Business Review Press, which published Sidetracked, declined to comment. Dey Street Books, a HarperCollins imprint that published Rebel Talent, and Guilford Press, publisher of the edited book The Social Psychology of Good and Evil that includes the co-authored chapter, did not respond to a request for comment.

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