Lessons from a case of academic misconduct

How should academic institutions—universities, funders, and journal editors— address academic misconduct of the type now known to have been committed by Brian Wansink, John Dyson professor of marketing at Cornell University? Wansink has had a total of 13 articles retracted as of 10 October 2018, following investigation by Cornell which found “misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.”

Dr Gareth Hollands and Professor Theresa Marteau (Behaviour and Health Research Unit), writing with Professor Marcus Munafo (Bristol) in the BMJ, argue that open research practices provide the research community with a framework for minimising academic misconduct of the kind perpetrated by Wansink. Click below to access the full text.

Open science prevents mindless science. BMJ. Munafò, M. R., Hollands, G. J., & Marteau, T. M.

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Partnerships with the alcohol industry at the expense of public health

Partnerships between public health agencies and industries which trade in potentially harmful products or activities – such as the recently announced and much criticised partnership between Public Health England (PHE) and the alcohol industry-funded body, Drinkaware – risk delaying or preventing effective policies to improve population health, say public health scientists Mark Petticrew, Martin McKee and Theresa Marteau in their Lancet Comment, published online on September 20th 2018. The authors say that such partnerships with industry promote voluntary models of harm reduction which are largely ineffective and are likely to benefit the relevant industries rather than improving the health of the nation. They conclude by recommending that PHE should work with the public health community to redefine its relationships with industry.

Professor Dame Theresa Marteau is Director of the (BHRU) at the University of Cambridge.

Partnerships with the alcohol industry: furthering industry interests at the expense of public health. Petticrew M, Marteau TM, McKee M. Lancet.

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Drink it straight: people take longer to consume sugary soft drinks served in straight-sided glasses

People drink soft drinks more slowly from glasses which have straight sides, when compared to those that slope outwards. That is the central conclusion of PhD research conducted by Tess Langfield, and published in PLoS One. Tess presented this research on Friday 7th September at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology annual conference in Gateshead, which also earned her a prize from BPS for her award winning abstract. Click below to access the full paper.

Impact of glass shape on time taken to drink a soft drink: A laboratory-based experiment. Langfield T, Pechey R, Pilling M, Marteau TM. PLoS ONE
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Richard Thaler: Contender for a Nobel Prize in Psychology?

Richard Thaler is an economist that is fluent in Psychology and has just won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics. His contribution, as recognised by the awarding committee, has been to apply the psychology of judgement and decision-making to economics. This has not only increased understanding sub-optimal financial decisions but also led to interventions to optimise these. The oft cited example is the Save More Tomorrow scheme in which rather than opting into a retirement saving scheme the default was switched so that employees would opt out. Savings with the latter increased four-fold from 3.5%. His contribution to psychology, less remarked upon, has also been remarkable. By highlighting the failures of subjective expected utility models – which are still the dominant models used in the health field – he drew attention to the many models in psychology that focus instead on habits, situations and non-conscious processes. To read the full blog click on the Read more button.

Cambridge@Hay: Professor Theresa Marteau on why risk information doesn’t change unhealthy behaviour

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New audiences learned about the links between behaviour and health – and how our non-conscious choices can be deadly – at this year’s Hay Festival with Professor Theresa Marteau, Director at the Behaviour and Health Research Unit (BHRU) at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge.

Professor Marteau made four appearances in 26 hours including a sold-out talk for 2000 people chaired by Hugh Muir at the Guardian, and an ad-hoc “All Star Variety Show” with, amongst others, Simon Schama, an alumus of Christ’s College where Professor Marteau is a Fellow.