Tuesday, July 17, 2012

German Professor retracts two papers from Research Policy

I have been alerted to the following two retractions at Research Policy:
Retraction Watch has the report that the author has voluntarily retracted a third paper:
  • Ulrich Lichtenthaler and Holger Ernst, Technology licensing strategies: the interaction of process and content characteristics, Strategic Organization,  Vol 7(2): 183–221, DOI: 10.1177/1476127009102672
Retraction Watch also gives a link to a Handelsblatt biography of Lichtenthaler (in German). Lichtenthaler is currently a professor at the University of Mannheim. The question arises as to whether these papers were instrumental in his obtaining the professorship, and how the university needs to react in the face of the retractions.

One paper was retracted because it was apparently a multiple publication (self-plagiarism), the others for statistical issues. Germany has no national policy on retractions, and even though some universities have ethical codices, there is often no clear road to follow when something like this comes up. With the amount of ethical problems being uncovered in Germany recently, one would think that there would be a national committee investigating. If there is, I am unaware of it.

Update August 16, 2012:  Retractionwatch has documented a fourth retraction by Lichtenthaler, this time from Strategic Management Journal.


  1. When reading the retraction notice it becomes obvious that the editors of Research Policy retracted the papers before they were informed by Lichtenthaler about misreported or exaggerated results: "After the Research Policy Editors had made their decision to retract the two papers (but before he had been notified of the outcome), the author wrote to acknowledge a third problem with the Research Policy 2009 paper, namely that the statistical significance of several of the findings had been misreported or exaggerated. In the light of this new problem, the author asked to withdraw the Research Policy 2009 paper. However, by then the editorial decision to retract that paper on the original two grounds listed above had already been taken.

    The Editors

    Research Policy"

  2. The rot in business-school research is far deeper than just plagiarism. For the past half century the majority of the research published in our "top" journals, as well as others, has followed a fatally flawed soft-social-science model based on a mythology about the meaning of statistical significance. The simple truth is that the overwhelming majority of our research should simply be flushed away because it is, as I describe it on my weblog, junk science (http://sites.udel.edu/mjs), not science. The absolute futility of peer review under conditions of junk science is that new junk is reviewed by other junksters, and what accumulates is not knowledge but more junk. If the issue were one of holding business school research to the standards of real science, the large majority of b-school researchers would be looking for a job.


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