Science news story here.
I’m struck by both the similarities and differences to the Pruitt case.
An incomplete list of similarities:
-repeated data fabrication across numerous papers over many years, often taking the form of duplicated sequences of observations indicative of copying and pasting data
-current and former trainees of the accused were crucial to the investigation, going above and beyond to reveal the truth.
An incomplete list of contrasts:
-Dixson was given away in part because of the physical impossibility of her methods. It just wasn’t physically possible for her to have collected the data she claimed to have collected, in the time frame she claimed to have collected it, using the methods she claimed to have used. In contrast, I’m not aware of any instances of the Methods sections of Pruitt’s papers describing any physical impossibilities.
-Pruitt had no public defenders of any consequence, save for his own lawyers. In contrast, Dixson has–indeed, continues to have!–very vocal public defenders, including her own doctoral and postdoctoral supervisors and other prominent marine ecologists. Those defenders have defended Dixson not by addressing the specifics of the allegations against her (e.g., “Here’s why duplicated data X in paper Y don’t actually indicate fabrication”), but rather by (i) imagining that the whistleblowers have bad motives and attacking them for those purported bad motives, and (ii) talking about how hard-working, dedicated, and smart Dixson is. It’s immensely to the credit of Pruitt’s many former friends, trainees, and collaborators that all of them followed the evidence where it led.
-The University of Delaware’s institutional investigation into Dixson was much faster than McMaster University’s investigation into Pruitt.
I don’t know what larger lessons to draw from these similarities and differences, or even if any larger lessons should be drawn. I just find them striking.