Statement on the Levelt Report
The Levelt committee report does an extraordinary service to science in helping us to understand the fraudulent behavior of Diederik Stapel and in identifying potential vulnerabilities in the practices of social psychology that warrant our serious consideration. However, it is illogical and potentially misleading to conclude, as the report did, that what is learned about an historic case of scientific fraud tells us anything about typical social psychologists and their practices. Also, as data from the U.S. government regularly document, instances of fraud and sloppiness are not unique to social psychology; they occur in all areas of science. Nonetheless, the Stapel fraud together with the Sanna and Smeesters paper retractions remind us why social psychology must continuously reflect upon research and publication practices, and, where needed, strengthen guidelines and standards. Indeed, the seriousness with which the field is undertaking this task of reflection is evident in the robust participation of many social psychologists in symposia, articles, blogs and reports that discuss research and publication practices, as well as in considering or implementing new initiatives in our journals. As announced at the last conference, the SESP program committee is organizing an invited symposium on ethics and academic practices at the 2013 conference in Berkeley. If members of SESP have additional suggestions for organized activities, please let us know.
The SESP Executive Committee