SFP and scientific intergrity : comments on "ars technica" article


The publication of the article entitled "Researchers find oddities in high-profile gender studies" revealed a case for which our society has been solicited by James Heathers and Nick Brown. However, some information enclosed in the article are wrong. This article is aimed at exposing the point of view of the SFP on this case and to make some corrections to the original article published by ars Technica.

The French Psychological Society is a scientific society aimed at promoting scientific psychology. Therefore, James Heathers and Nick Brown contacted the society to have our opinion about their comments on some results published by Nicolas Guéguen. We informed them that the French Psychological Society is not an ethical committee or office and we can not resolve such cases. However, we proposed them to analyze their comments to give them our point of view. We concluded that their comments were based on rigorous scientific arguments and they raised some questions that needed some responses. Therefore, we proposed to help getting some answers to their questions by contacting Nicolas Guéguen. As mentioned in the article “ Researchers find oddities in high-profile gender studies”, we sent to James Heathers and Nick Brown all documents and information received from Nicolas Guéguen. Unfortunately, our two colleagues did not get answers they wanted to their questions.

We kept informing James Heathers and Nick Brown about procedures that can be engaged in France in order to investigate such cases. Therefore, the French Psychological Society, Kamel Gana and I did the job we could in order to support a scientific debate between our colleagues and to advise them on ways to investigate the case with respect to French national laws.

Therefore, the SFP never “stepped away from the problem, saying that there was nothing more it could do”. We have always been very clear on what we could do or not do. We sent piles of documents and answers from Nicolas Guéguen to James Heathers and Nick Brown. We provided some advises and efforts to facilitate communications between all of them. In June 2017 they told us that they wanted to stop our collaboration because they could not get satisfied answers from Nicolas Guéguen. We advised them to contact Nicolas Guéguen’s university in order to engage a more official procedure, but they declined our proposition. Therefore, we informed them and Nicolas Guéguen that the French Psychological Society had to stop his work on this case.

We although want to underline here that France and French scientific community have a very voluntary policy to promote an defend scientific integrity (http://www.hceres.fr/PRESENTATION/Organisation/Office-francais-de-l-integrite-scientifique). In France, we have some well established procedures and rules in this domain. As a scientific society, the SFP is willing to promote a rigorous and ethical scientific research in psychology with respect to national laws and procedures. We treated Nicolas Guéguen’s case in agreement with these values.