Former prof sanctioned for research misconduct
A former Pitt nursing faculty member has been sanctioned for research misconduct.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has found that former School of Nursing faculty member Scott Weber plagiarized text and falsified data in a pair of manuscripts that were submitted to academic journals and that he included portions of that plagiarized text in two federal grant applications.
ORI reported that Weber, who had been an assistant professor of health and community systems and coordinator of the nursing education graduate program in the School of Nursing, has agreed to a three-year ban that will preclude him from contracting or subcontracting with any federal agency or from serving in any advisory capacity to the Public Health Service. The sanction took effect Sept. 7, 2011.
Weber joined the Pitt nursing faculty in 2003 and, according to his CV, received a secondary appointment in the Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health in 2007.
Health Sciences spokesperson Jennifer Yates said Weber is no longer at Pitt but would not say when he left the University or offer any further comment.
He is listed in the 2010-11 Pitt telephone directory, but his name does not appear in the current online directory listings.
Weber did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the ORI case summary, Weber, in a manuscript he submitted to the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, plagiarized more than 90 percent of the text from the paper, “A randomized effectiveness trial of interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed adolescents,’’ by L. Mufson and others, which appeared in the June 2004 Archives of General Psychiatry.
It also found that Weber, in a manuscript submitted to the Journal of GLBT Family Studies, plagiarized approximately two-thirds of “Concordance between two measures of depression in the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,’’ a paper by M.J. Cho and others that appeared in the August 1993 Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
ORI found that, “In both manuscripts, [Weber] falsified and fabricated tables and figures by using all or nearly all of the data in tables and graphs from the plagiarized articles while altering numbers and changing text to represent data as if from another subject population.” He also copied most of the original bibliographic references but falsified 35 percent of the copied references from the paper submitted to the nurse practitioners journal and 25 percent of the copied references from the paper submitted to the GLBT family studies journal “by changing volume numbers and/or publication years, apparently to hinder detection of the plagiarism.”
ORI found Weber fabricated data by altering or adding values to a table in each manuscript “describing the demographic characteristics of the study population that was never studied.”
It also stated Weber, in two NIH grant applications, copied “substantial word-for-word portions of the text describing the test instrument to be used in the proposed study,” without citing the Cho paper. The case summary is posted at http://ori.hhs.gov/misconduct/cases/.
Seven of Weber’s journal articles, published between 2007 and 2010, have been retracted by the Wiley journals Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing and the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
The retraction notices cite “significant overlap with previously published material” and/or “due to references that could not be verified” as the reason for the retractions. The list of retractions can be found by searching the author’s name at http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com.
—Kimberly K. Barlow