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Cornell Professor Resigns Editor Role After Multiple Complaints

Robert Sternberg’s critics say he cited himself repeatedly in the journal he edited and basically acted like a jerk.

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A noted Cornell professor has left his role as editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal under the umbrella of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), after a petition accusing him of “lack of any serious editorial oversight” was sent to the Association.

Robert Sternberg, a professor of human development, faced a hail of criticism from his peers over multiple self-citations, which are a big deal in the world of academic research and writing. His profile page on the Cornell website boasts that he has “been cited 142,641 times.”

Sternberg’s Curriculum Vitae, linked on the Cornell site, is an astonishing 110 pages long. (And you thought editing your resume was time consuming.)

Chris S. Crandall, a professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, penned a letter that accompanied the petition, seeking “to raise the issue of ethical violations and excessively narrow inclusion of authors in the 30th Anniversary issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.”

Sternberg was also criticized by peers for the lack of diversity in the issues he edited.

UVA law and psychology professor Barbara A. Spellman, signed the letter and called on APS to fire Sternberg, writing that he “made the journal, and APS, a laughingstock. And you should do it before he does so again in his next special section, in which his rambling introduction and postscript take us on tours of his youth and, un-peer reviewed, garner him another 39 self-citations.”

Inside Higher Ed covered the story in depth and received a lengthy rebuttal from Sternberg, addressing many of the accusations. The report indicated he was especially upset at the diversity accusations:

Of all the claims against him, Sternberg said the diversity-based ones were especially “painful.” Diversity has been a focus of his career in the U.S. and abroad, he said. In administrative roles at Tufts and Oklahoma State Universities, for example, he instituted admissions programs that have benefited thousands of students from diverse backgrounds who otherwise would have been rejected based on their standardized test scores. He created instructional programs on both campuses that benefited diverse learners once there, he added.

But he did admit to Insider Higher Ed that the controversy was fueled by his “lapses in judgment and mistakes.”

 

 

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