UT decides against formal investigation into Regnerus’ study, claiming no scientific misconduct committed

Bobby Blanchard

University officials announced Wednesday they will not conduct a formal investigation into the research methods of a UT professor for scientific misconduct following his study, which claimed children of gay parents are less likely to succeed.

In July, Executive Vice President and Provost Steven Leslie announced the University would conduct an inquiry on whether or not an investigation was needed for UT associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus’ study, which claims children raised by homosexual parents are at a disadvantage. Robert A. Peterson, associate vice president for research, informed Leslie in a report last Friday that based on his investigations, Regnerus committed no scientific misconduct.

Scott Rose, a New York City based investigative journalist and blogger for the pro-gay rights website The New Civil Rights Movement, set the inquiry in motion after making allegations about Regnerus in a series of letters to the University. Rose, sociology professors, LGBTQ organizations and academia nationwide accused Regnerus of having a bias for receiving funding from the Witherspoon Institute, a conservative organization. They also said he applied too broad of a definition of gay parents as any parent who has ever been in a same-sex relationship.

“None of the allegations of scientific misconduct put forth by Mr. Rose were sustained either by physical data, written materials or by information provided in the interview,” Peterson said in his report.

Peterson said in his report Rose’s allegations do not fall under what the University defines as scientific misconduct. The University’s policy on scientific misconduct states: “ordinary errors, good faith differences in interpretations or judgments of data, scholarly or political disagreements, good faith personal or professional opinions, or private moral or ethical behavior or views are not misconduct.”

The University defines scientific misconduct as: “fabrication or falsification of data, plagiarism, and other practices that seriously deviate from ethical standards for proposing, conducting, or reporting research are unacceptable and in some cases may constitute scientific misconduct.”

Peterson said the University should leave whether or not the research was flawed or possessed serious limitations to debates in the academic field and future research.

Regnerus said the inquiry was thorough and professional and its outcome pleased him. Rose, however, said the inquiry did little more than scratch the surface.

“If you look at the University’s definition of an inquiry, you’ll see it does not really look in-depth enough,“ Rose said.

In response to Peterson’s report, Leslie said he accepted the conclusion of the report and that the matter was closed. Peterson said in his report Regnerus would make his raw data public soon.

“At that time, scholars can examine the data themselves and arrive at their own conclusions,” Peterson said.

Regnerus said he would make his raw data public in late September.

Printed on Thursday, August 30, 2012 as: UT officials claim Regnerus innocent of misconduct