Endowed Professor of Consumer Behaviour and Society Dirk Smeesters, Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), resigned due to a case of scientific fraud.

The committee for scientific integrity of Rotterdam’s university investigated the nooks and crannies of Smeesters’ scientific research and presented a report this morning. The Executive Board has accepted the professor’s resignation last Thursday.

Unreliable data

The university has decided to retract two of the endowed professor’s scientific articles from journals, while the committee regards three as subject of fraud. The problem lies with findings that are statistically highly improbable.

The professor was unable to make the data his articles were based on available. They were stored on his home computer. According to him, the data became irretrievable after his hard drive crashed. Moreover, the original data on paper was lost when he moved. The committee did not find this explanation believable.

Not guilty

Even though Smeesters conceded that he cherry picked data in order to make the sought after effects statistically significant, he does not feel guilty.  He is convinced that many in his field consciously manipulate data to get more relevant results, as is stated in the report.

Consumer behaviour

Smeesters primarily published articles on consumer behaviour and the effects of commercials. The university has removed his name from the website by now, his list of publications however is still retrievable via Google’s memory cache. He claimed, among other things, that consumers have a preference for products of national origin after having perceived news that deal with death, as such news inspire patriotism. Furthermore, commercials with either thin or plus size models supposedly have a different effect on overweight people and people of normal weight. HOP