Brian Wansink accused of self-plagiarism in his works. Brian Wansink is an American expert in interdependence of nutrition and consumer behavior, and a professor at Cornell University. In 2008 he was called a Person of the Week. He is very famous for researches where he found out that in a restaurant, the amount of food that people would eat depends on where they sit. Thus, those who sit closer to the exit, will definitely order desserts, while the ones in the center may not order dessert at all. This research is only one of many suggested, and his inventions become widely popular every year.
Mr. Wansink’s Colleagues Revealed Plagiarism in His Articles
Recently the researches have analyzed scientific information published by the professor and found some discrepancies in the way the sentences are presented. Later on, Andrew Gelman, a statistician at Columbia University pointed out that Mr. Wansink’s phrases are likely to be changed in order for the articles to be published, but there is a guess that a professor Wansink self-plagiarized. So, that is what Mr. Gelman wrote in his blog about.
Another researcher, a Ph.D student at the University of Groningen, confirmed Mr. Wansink’s possible self-plagiarism, and wrote about that in his blog post, saying that the articles published in 2001, and 2003 contain similar content, although they reveal two different topics.
The Professor’s Reaction to Accusations
The professor Brian Wansink denied any accusations, and commented this way: “We are currently conducting a full review of studies in question, preparing comprehensive data which will be shared and establishing new standards for future operations at the lab which will include how we respond to requests for research information.”
However, this kind of statement was a surprise to many scientists, as a review of studies could be done by an independent expert, instead the professor Wansink invited another person who was far from that research. So, the professor had to explain his choice. So, he clarified the situation, saying that hiring an independent expert would take a lot of time, and he would like to identify the statements in question within a short time. Also, he said he planned to invite some other statisticians from the Cornell University, but from another lab, to have a look at his data, and de-identify it. Finally, all the analysis of the text and tables will become public, so that everyone could track any possible discrepancies.
When Wansink’s data analysis was completed, he commented: “These sorts of studies are either first steps, or sometimes they’re real-world demonstrations of existing lab findings,” he said. “They aren’t intended to be the first and last word about a social science issue. Social science isn’t definitive like chemistry. Like Jim Morrison said, ‘People are strange.’ In a good way.”
The management at Cornell University didn’t comment on the situation, and no further investigation is planned. The Cornell University plagiarism case is just another case when a professor is accused of plagiarism. The same happened at Hyderabad University.