PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Climategate Over, Sort-of

This picture has a tenuous relationship to the story at best, but I don't care

This picture has a tenuous relationship to the story at best, but I don't careYou’ve all heard about “Climategate” (in fact, we blogged about it earlier this week!). Penn State professor Michael Mann has been linked to emails that suggest research was falsified to support the claim for man-made global warming. In response, Penn State began an inquiry committee to look into the matter. After a few weeks of inquiring, the committee has decided to begin investigating instead.

But what is the difference between an Inquiry and an Investigation? Both are outlined in University policy RA10, “Handling Inquiries/Investigations Into Questions of Ethics in Research and in Other Scholarly Activities”. This lengthy, yet accurately-titled, policy sets out the procedure to looking into situations such as Mann’s.

The purpose of the Inquiry is to find if any of the allegations against a researcher can be definitively dismissed or verified. The committee asked four questions of Mann during this period:

  • Did you falsify or suppress data?
  • Did you attempt to conceal the relevant e-mails?
  • Did you misuse privileged or confidential information?
  • Did you deviate from accepted academic practices?

In this case, the committee found no evidence that the first three allegations were true and has dismissed them. Their decision to move into a more in depth investigation is explained in their report.

Policy RA-10 speaks not just of research misconduct but also of research conduct and is
explicit regarding the responsibility that we have as scientists to maintain the public trust.
The report goes on to explain that accepted practices vary drastically from field to field, and it will take more time to determine whether or not Mann followed practices in his own field of paleoclimatology. It also recognizes the political significance of Mann’s research, and outlines how the investigation will not deal with the content of the research, but the method in which it was conducted.
This is a touchy issue, and I feel the committee, headed by new VP of Graduate Research Henry “Hank” Foley, is handling it well. They could have kept their findings secret and could have even made Mann a scapegoat, but are instead taking time to carefully investigate the matter.
What do you think about the committee’s findings?

About the Author

Nick Johnson

Nick is a junior majoring in IST (the Internet) and CAS (saying things). He hopes to one day get paid to do this, but for now he is willing to do it for the fame. Besides writing for Onward State, he also puts things on the Internet here.


More by Nick

Southern Kitsch and Sweet Tea at Cracker Barrel

After several months of anticipation, I was finally able to check out State College’s new Cracker Barrel on its opening day. Located at 215 Colonnade Blvd., there are few surprises at the chain’s new location. With rows of rocking chairs out front, checker boards and a game of peg solitaire at every table, I could have been at any franchise location in the country — not that that’s a bad thing.

Help Us Make a Sandwich

Your Guide to UPUA Election Season


Max Sauve Commits To Penn State Hockey

Sauve originally committed to Vermont in 2015, but flipped to Penn State at the eleventh hour and will join the Nittany Lions next season.

Penn State Women’s Volleyball Releases 2018 Schedule

Penn State Hoops Alumnus Joonas Suotamo’s Journey To Becoming Chewbacca Featured On ESPN’s ‘E:60’

Evaluating Tony Carr’s Performance At The 2018 NBA Draft Combine

Penn State Hockey Commit Evan Bell Wins Clark Cup With USHL’s Fargo Force

Student Life

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Career Services To Launch Integrated Career Management & Recruiting Platform

Penn State Esports Wins Tespa Collegiate Hearthstone Championship

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Penn State Names Guadagnino Vice President For Administration

Guadagnino will continue to provide legal advice as associate general counsel in addition to his duties as vice president.

As Disciplinary Hearing Opens, Expert Says Baldwin Failed To Properly Represent Ex-Penn State Administrators

A Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board hearing began on Tuesday in Pittsburgh for former Penn State general counsel Cynthia Baldwin, who is accused of violating rules of professional conduct in her representation of former university administrators during the Jerry Sandusky investigation.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Send this to a friend