HARKing and p-Hacking – the 2016 Erasmus Management Lecture

Researchers who manipulate data, or adjust hypotheses after gathering results are a real problem and the issue affects research practices and editorial standards in academic journals. Professor Bill Starbuck, courtesy professor-in-residence at the Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon will offer remedies when he appears as guest scholar at the annual Erasmus Management Lecture. The event takes place on Monday 19 September in the Van der Goot building (M-building), Erasmus University Rotterdam, Woudestein campus.

He will present a lecture, The future of editorial reviews: improving deficiencies in the review and editorial process, followed by a panel discussion that involves associate editors of leading management journals. The event starts at 14.00 in the Van der Goot building (M-building) and concludes with a drinks reception.

Manipulating data

Professor Starbuck will suggest editorial policies to mitigate practices such as ‘HARKing’ (Hypothesising After Results Are Known) and ‘p-Hacking’, or manipulating data. The subject is one he covered in an article published in Administrative Science Quarterly in January 2016. In How Journals Could Improve Research Practices in Social Science, Starbuck proposed ways to improve editorial evaluation of manuscripts.

Discussions already tackled

It’s a timely topic of interest to the entire research community, said Professor Marno Verbeek, Scientific Director of the Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), RSM’s research institute. “This topic has been debated over the past few years, yet colleagues and institutions are still trying to determine what changes need to be made at the individual, institutional and field level.

“The topic extends discussions already tackled in our ERIM courses and workshops for scientific and research integrity for new ERIM members, for example. We aim for a large attendance and a lively discussion.”

Editorial propositions

In the panel discussion, academics who hold positions on editorial boards and as associate journal editors will address the issue and the propositions made by Prof. Starbuck. Panel members include Professor Patrick Groenen, associate editor of Advances in Data Analysis and Classification; Professor Pursey Heugens, member of the editorial board at Corporate Reputation Review, Business and Society; and Professor Stefan Stremersch, member of the editorial review board for International Journal of Research in Marketing, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research and Marketing Science.

The discussion will be moderated by Professor Joep Cornelissen, who also holds an associate editorship and serves on several editorial boards.


For more information and to register, visit the Erasmus Management Lecture website.


The abstract of Professor Starbuck’s paper in Administrative Science Quarterly goes into more detail on the subject:

“Editorial evaluations of manuscripts are unreliable and inconsistent. Editorial practices make inadequate allowances for the limitations and expertise of reviewers. Humans cannot consider many dimensions of complex stimuli simultaneously, and they tend to convert subtle differences into stark dichotomies. Many reviewers have poor understanding of statistics or writing techniques. Yet, editors commonly ask reviewers to evaluate all properties of manuscripts. Editorial evaluations would be more reliable and helpful if editors would (a) state their policies and methodological requirements very clearly and (b) assign some evaluation tasks to specialists. For reviews to be genuinely “blind”, journal personnel should process manuscripts before the editors see them – removing not only information that clearly identifies the author but also clues to the author’s social status. Furthermore, many authors say editors have required them to make statements that they believe to be untrue. When reviewers (or editors) offer suggestions, authors tend to view these as demands that they must meet to have their manuscripts accepted. Reviewers should behave as peers, not mentors, and editors should make it clear that suggestions for “improvement” are not commands authors are required to obey.”

More information

William Starbuck is courtesy professor-in-residence at the Lundquist College of Business of the University of Oregon and professor emeritus at New York University. He received his master degree and doctorate in industrial administration at Carnegie Institute of Technology, after a bachelor of arts degree in physics at Harvard University. He has also been awarded honorary doctorates by universities in Stockholm, Paris, and Aix-en-Provence.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s leading research-based business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, Media & Public Relations Manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

Alumni, Faculty & Research, Homepage, International, Newsroom, Intranet