Science journalist Leonid Schneider has gotten hold of a redacted copy of the letter that embattled behavioral ecologist Jonathan Pruitt’s lawyers have been sending to journals in which he published, and to his former collaborators. The letter tries to keep them from talking publicly about the many data anomalies underpinning Pruitt’s papers. Anomalies for which the most obvious explanation, in many cases, is intentional fabrication. Pruitt himself insists that there are entirely innocent explanations for the anomalies. But so far he has yet to provide innocent explanations that convince anyone who’s looked closely at his data and papers, at least as far as I’m aware. But we’ll see; investigation is ongoing.
The link includes a copy of the letter, Schneider’s forceful comments on it, quotes from some recipients of the letter, and examples of some of the data anomalies in question. Stick around to the end for a quote from Pruitt that directly contradicts the letter, claiming that he’s “happy for folks to engage in public discourse about my data integrity”.
I was most interested in the letter because it reveals how Pruitt will defend himself against allegations of misconduct, at least in one case. He claims that, in at least one case, the data anomalies are not in the data file on which his paper was based, but are only in a different data file that was provided to investigators by mistake.
If you’re new to this story and need background, see here.
UPDATE: Niels Dingemanse comments to say that the letters haven’t changed how journal editors are proceeding with their investigations into Pruitt’s papers.