Esteemed Harvard researcher Marc Hauser is taking a year-long leave of absence after a Harvard board of inquiry found evidence of scientific misconduct in his lab, and after he retracted a 2002 study published in Cognition on whether monkeys learn rules, reports the Boston Globe's Carolyn Johnson. According to a letter that Hauser sent to some colleagues, his lab has been under investigation for three years, but he and Harvard are being tight-lipped about what kind of misconduct was found, why the investigation took so long, and whether Harvard forced Hauser to take the leave as a punishment, Johnson says, but the retraction says that Harvard found that the data for the monkey trial don't support the findings. The investigation has also called into question two other papers co-authored by Hauser, she adds.
David Dobbs at Neuron Culture says that it's important to keep in mind that allegations of scientific misconduct do not equal fraud. "It could mean something really ugly or it could mean something just kind of messy," he says. The fact that the investigation has been going on for so long suggests this is a complicated situation, he adds.