Academics Level Criticism at Harvard Over Handling of Hauser Inquiry

Polina Bartik

In the wake of news that embattled psychology professor Marc D. Hauser will resign his tenured position at the University, a group of prominent academics are circulating a letter criticizing Harvard’s handling of the allegations leveled at Hauser.

The letter criticizes Harvard’s investigation into Hauser’s work and reflects a feeling in the academic community that Harvard did not properly handle the investigation and the resulting media frenzy. Among the signatories is MIT Linguistics Professor Noam Chomsky.

The Chronicle of Higher Education was the first to report news of the letter.

While universities usually keep internal investigations into a professor’s work confidential, Harvard responded to media scrutiny last August by releasing a summary of the findings of the three-year internal investigation, which found Hauser "solely responsible for eight counts of scientific misconduct."

The details of the investigation have remained confidential and have been tightly guarded by University administrators.


Marc Hauser's Career at Harvard

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith noted that because Hauser received federal funding for his research, the committee in charge of the Harvard investigation turned over its findings to the Office of Research Integrity in accordance with federal policy.

On the heels of the investigation becoming public, Hauser took a one year leave of absence, went to his home on the Cape to work on a book, and remained silent on the issue.

But the lack of information about the case and a surprisingly drawn out federal investigation has raised questions within the academic community.

The average ORI investigation releases its findings in seven months, according to Ann Bradley, a spokesperson for the ORI. But the ORI investigation has now lasted for over a year, and the ORI has not released any information about the case, declining to even confirm that an investigation is ongoing.

Last February, the Psychology Department voted to bar Hauser from teaching for the 2011-2012 academic year. In an interview with The Crimson last May, Psychology Department Chair Susan E. Carey '64 said the department refrained from making a permanent decision because it was “waiting for the ORI to make its findings public.”

Despite a blistering internal investigation and a one-year teaching ban, many, like Carey, considered the ORI findings to be the final verdict on Hauser.

“Each of us has heard rumors, and each of us has our own opinions about what Hauser probably did or did not do,” Carey said in May. “But those opinions are really worth nothing. The due process goes through the Committee on Professional Conduct and ORI.”

As a result, many in the academic community were surprised that Hauser resigned before the conclusion of the ORI investigation.

—Staff writer Julia L. Ryan can be reached at


Recommended Articles

Facing Federal Inquiry: A Look at Possible Consequences
Below are a range of punitive measures available to the federal agencies investigation psychology professor Marc D. Hauser's lab.
Psychology Department Bars Hauser from Teaching
Psychology Department Chair Susan E. Carey ’64 confirmed that psychology professor Marc D. Hauser will not be teaching next academic year.
The Waiting Game
Despite a condemning internal investigation, Harvard finds itself in the unfamiliar position of waiting for another body to dictate the future of a professor who was once a prized member of its faculty.
Hauser Responds to Federal Report Published Today
In a statement to The Crimson, former Harvard psychology professor Marc D. Hauser responded to a report by the Office of Research Integrity published earlier today finding him responsible for six counts of research misconduct, including fabrication of data, doctoring of results, and misrepresentation of research methods.
Hauser Center To Be Renamed, Merged into Center for Public Leadership
The Kennedy School announced this past week that it will merge two of its research centers. Beginning July 1, the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations will be renamed the Hauser Institute for Civil Society and operate within the Center for Public Leadership, bringing together the research and leadership development efforts of the two bodies.
Hauser Studio Equipment
Video Production Studio Supporting Digital Pedagogy To Open in Widener