Prominent spider biologist spun a web of questionable data

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Science  07 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6478, pp. 613-614
DOI: 10.1126/science.367.6478.613

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In a swift rise to prominence, Jonathan Pruitt drew attention to the small field of behavioral ecology with eye-catching findings about contrasting personalities—meek and aggressive—in social spiders. But in just 2 weeks, the field has turned on its young star. What began with questions about data in one paper has flared into a scandal, with several retractions and dozens of other papers using his data on spider and other animals being scrutinized by scores of co-authors, including his former students and postdocs. Many more retractions are predicted to occur, perhaps even an unprecedented number for behavioral ecology. The furor has even earned a Twitter hashtag—#PruittData—where scientists are discussing how to analyze his results and debating the implications for their field.

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