Stapel Gets Community Service for Fabricating Studies

Diederik Stapel, the former Tilburg University professor who fabricated dozens of research studies, has been spared a trial after reaching a settlement with Dutch prosecutors. He will do 120 hours of community service and forgo benefits from his former employer that would have been equivalent to 1.5 years of salary.

Stapel was a high-profile social psychologist whose career unraveled in 2011 when it was discovered that he had been fabricating data for more than a decade. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service began a criminal investigation against Stapel last year to determine if he had misused public funds.

Prosecutors concluded that Stapel hadn't defrauded the taxpayer. According to a statement announcing the settlement, investigators reached that conclusion because Stapel did use the grants he received for research, even though he manufactured the data. Much of the money from the grants was spent on salaries, the statement says. In coming to the settlement, officials took into consideration that Stapel had voluntarily returned his doctorate degree.

"I very much regret the mistakes I have made," Stapel tells ScienceInsider. "I am happy for my colleagues as well as for my family that with this settlement, a court case has been avoided."