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Report further incriminates social psychologist Jens Förster

AMSTERDAM—Statistical experts at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in the Netherlands have dealt another blow to the reputation of disgraced German social psychologist Jens Förster, who worked at the university between 2007 and 2014. An investigative panel has found “strong evidence for low veracity” of the results in eight of Förster's articles, according to a UvA press release issued today—a term that appears to suggest that he may have made up his results.

UvA hasn't released the full report yet, so just how the panel came to its conclusions—or why it phrases them as it does—is unclear. But the press release says that data in the eight papers show a linearity that is “too good to be true” and can’t be explained by chance. The committee expresses doubts about “unclear” statistical patterns in three other studies. UvA will send the full report about the 11 studies to the journals involved, says the release, with the request to retract them or consider retraction.

Förster did not respond to an e-mailed request from ScienceInsider; he has repeatedly denied manipulating data on his website.

Förster’s research has been under fire for more than a year. Only one of the papers scrutinized by the panel, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science in 2012, has so far been retracted; that happened in November 2014, after the National Board for Scientific Integrity had concluded that research data had been manipulated. That verdict led UvA's board to investigate more studies with similarly remarkable statistical patterns.

In April, Förster withdrew his candidacy for a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt professorship at Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) in Germany, which comes with €5 million in funding. Sources within UvA confirm that he took that step after being confronted with a draft of the new report. Förster currently has a temporary position as a social psychology professor at RUB that expires in September.

Update, 3 June, 11:11 a.m.: ScienceInsider has obtained a copy of the full report, which is available here. Förster has posted a reaction on his website saying he says he needs time to process the report and that a previous version was “biased, misleading and lacking any evidence of data manipulation.” Förster adds: “For now, I would like only to express my outrage at the procedure, by which the present report is published without allowing me time to prepare a response.”