Detecting Academic Fraud in Accounting Research: The Case of Professor James Hunton
42 Pages Posted: 5 May 2018
Date Written: April 18, 2018
We investigate whether Benford’s Law can be utilized to determine the validity of data employed within published accounting studies. We employ the case of James Hunton who in 2012 was found to have misstated/fabricated datasets used in thirty-seven of his published articles. Based on digits contained in published articles we construct several Benford conformity measures and determine whether Hunton’s retracted papers differ significantly from a control group of non-retracted articles by competing authors. Our results clearly indicate that Hunton’s retracted papers significantly deviate from Benford Law due to this fraudulent data, relative to the control group of papers. Moreover, our results also suggest Hunton’s remaining non-retracted articles should be further examined. Following, our findings we call on journal editors and reviewers to consider implementing a review process that employs Benford Law as a 'doping' or 'signalling' mechanism to decrease the risk of fraudulent activity within academia.
Keywords: Academic Fraud, Hunton, Benford Law, Academic Integrity
JEL Classification: M49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation