200 Scholars Condemn Regnerus Study

The heat continues to build in response to the very bad study on same-sex parenting done by Mark Regnerus. Now a group of some 200 scholars have signed on to a letter to the editor of Social Science Research, the journal that published the study, pointing out the flaws and ethical lapses of the research.

And there are some serious accusations here. First, they point out that the article was published with astonishing speed, only five weeks from the time it was sent in to the time it was published. That’s unheard of in a real scientific journal. In fact, the scholars say, the other articles in that very issue of the journal averaged a full year from submission to publication. That is much more the norm in scientific publishing.

Secondly, the two scholars who did the peer review of the research were part of the team that did the study! One of them was listed as the co-principal investigator on the study and the other was a paid consultant. This is a crystal clear breach of ethics and policy at any reputable journal. In addition to that, neither of the reviewers had any track record of research on the issue; as the letter points out, there are many scholars who have direct experience in the field that could have been asked to review the paper.

Here’s the full letter:

As researchers and scholars, many of whom with extensive experience in quantitative and qualitative research in family structures and child outcomes, we write to raise serious concerns about the most recent issue of Social Science Research and the set of papers focused on parenting by lesbians and gay men. In this regard, we have particular concern about Mark Regnerus’ paper entitled “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.”

LGBT parenting is a highly politicized topic. While the presence of a vibrant and controversial public debate should in no way censor scholarship, it should compel the academy to hold scholarship around that topic to our most rigorous standards. We are very concerned that these standards were not upheld in this issue or with this paper, given the apparently expedited process of publication and the decision to publish commentaries on the paper by scholars who were directly involved with the study and have limited experience in LGBT parenting research. We also have serious concerns about the scholarly merit of this paper.

In this letter, we detail the specific concerns that lead us to request that you publicly disclose the reasons for both the expedited peer review process of this clearly controversial paper and the choice of commentators invited to submit critiques. We further request that you invite scholars with specific expertise in LGBT parenting issues to submit a detailed critique of the paper and accompanying commentaries for publication in the next issue of the journal.

We question the process by which this paper was submitted, reviewed, and accepted for publication. The paper was received by the journal on February 1, 2012. A revision was received on February 29, and the paper was accepted on March 12. This suggests that the peer review process and substantive revisions occurred within a period of just five weeks. According to the peer review policy of the Social Science Research website hosted by Elsevier, the first step of the review process is an initial manuscript evaluation by the editor. Once deemed to meet minimum criteria, at least 2 experts are secured for a peer review. The website states that, “Typically manuscripts are reviewed within 2-3 months of submission but substantially longer review times are not uncommon” and that “Revised manuscripts are usually returned to the initial referees upon receipt.” Clearly, Dr. Regnerus’ paper was returned to him very quickly, because he had time to revise the manuscript and get it back to the journal by February 29th. Further, it appears that a second substantive peer review may not have occurred as the paper was accepted just two weeks after the revision was submitted.

The five-week submission to acceptance length was much shorter than all of the other articles published in the July 2012 issue. The average period of review for papers published in this issue was more than a year and the median review time was more than ten months. As we note below, there are substantial concerns about the merits of this paper, and these concerns should have been identified through a thorough and rigorous peer review process.

We further question the selection of commenters for the Regnerus paper. While Cynthia Osborne and Paul Amato are certainly well-respected scholars, they are also both active participants in the Regnerus study. According to her curriculum vitae, Dr. Osborne is a Co-Principal Investigator of the New Family Structure Survey. Dr. Amato served as a paid consultant on the advisory group convened to provide insights into study design and methods. Perhaps more importantly, neither Osborne nor Amato have ever published work that considers LGBT family or parenting issues. A cursory examination of this body of literature would reveal a wide range of scholars who are much more qualified to evaluate the merits of this study and were neither directly involved in the study design nor compensated for that involvement.

We have substantial concerns about the merits of this paper and question whether it actually uses methods and instruments that answer the research questions posed in the paper. The author claims that the purpose of the analysis is to begin to address the question, “Do the children of gay and lesbian parents look comparable to those of their heterosexual counterparts?” (p. 755). He creates several categories of “family type”, including “lesbian mother” and “gay father” as well as “divorced late,” “stepfamily,” and “single-parent.” But, as the author notes, for those respondents who indicated that a parent had a “same-sex relationship,” these categories were collapsed to boost sample size:

That is, a small minority of respondents might fit more than one group. I have, however, forced their mutual exclusivity here for analytic purposes. For example, a respondent whose mother had a same-sex relationship might also qualify in Group 5 or Group 7, but in this case my analytical interest is in maximizing the sample size of Groups 2 and 3 so the respondent would be placed in Group 2 (LMs). Since Group 3 (GFs) is the smallest and most difficult to locate randomly in the population, its composition trumped that of others, even LMs. (There were 12 cases of respondents who reported both a mother and a father having a same-sex relationship; all are analyzed here as GFs, after ancillary analyses revealed comparable exposure to both their mother and father).

By doing this, the author is unable to distinguish between the impact of having a parent who has had a continuous same-sex relationship from the impact of having same-sex parents who broke-up from the impact of living in a same-sex stepfamily from the impact of living with a single parent who may have dated a same-sex partner; each of these groups are included in a single “lesbian mother” or “gay father” group depending on the gender of the parent who had a same-sex relationship. Specifically, this paper fails to distinguish family structure and family instability. Thus, it fails to distinguish, for children whose parents ever had a same-sex relationship experience, the associations due to family structure from the associations due to family stability. However, he does attempt to distinguish family structure from family instability for the children of different-sex parents by identifying children who lived in an intact biological family. To make a group equivalent to the group he labels as having “lesbian” or “gay” parents, the author should have grouped all other respondents together and included those who lived in an intact biological family with those who ever experienced divorce, or whose parents ever had a different-sex romantic relationship. That seems absurd to family structure researchers, yet that type of grouping is exactly what he did with his “lesbian mother” and “gay father” groups.

It should be noted that the analyses also fail to distinguish family structure from family stability for single mothers; this group included both continuously single mothers and those single mothers who had previously experienced a divorce.

The paper employs an unusual method to measure the sexual orientation of the respondents’ parents. Even if the analyses had distinguished family stability from family structure, this paper and its accompanying study could not actually directly examine the impact of having a gay or lesbian parent on child outcomes because the interpretation of the measurement of parental sexual orientation is unclear. The author acknowledges as much when he states:

It is, however, very possible that the same-sex romantic relationships about which the respondents report were not framed by those respondents as indicating their own (or their parent’s own) understanding of their parent as gay or lesbian or bisexual in sexual orientation. Indeed, this is more a study of the children of parents who have had (and in some cases, are still in) same-sex relationships than it is one of children whose parents have self-identified or are ‘‘out’’ as gay or lesbian or bisexual.

Respondents were asked whether their parents had ever had a same-sex relationship. The author then identifies mothers and fathers as “lesbian” or “gay” without any substantiation of parental sexual orientation either by respondents or their parents. Given the author’s stated caveats, it is both inappropriate and factually incorrect for him to refer to these parents as “gay” or “lesbian” throughout the paper.

We are very concerned about the academic integrity of the peer review process for this paper as well as its intellectual merit. We question the decision of Social Science Research to publish the paper, and particularly, to

publish it without an extensive, rigorous peer review process and commentary from scholars with explicit expertise on LGBT family research. The methodologies used in this paper and the interpretation of the findings are inappropriate. The publication of this paper and the accompanying commentary calls the editorial process at Social Science Research, a well-regarded, highly cited social science journal (ranking in the top 15% of Sociology journals by ISI), into serious question. We urge you to publicly disclose the reasons for both the expedited peer review process of this clearly controversial paper and the choice of commentators invited to submit critiques. We further request that you invite scholars with specific expertise in LGBT parenting issues to submit a detailed critique of the paper and accompanying commentaries for publication in the next issue of the journal.

Sociologists and Family Studies Scholars

Silke Aisenbrey, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Yeshiva University

Katherine R. Allen, PhD

Professor of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Eric Anderson, PhD

Professor of Sports Medicine, University of Winchester

Nielan Barnes, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, California State University, Long Beach

Amanda K. Baumle, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Houston

Debbie Becher

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Barnard College, Columbia University

Mary Bernstein, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of Connecticut

Natalie Boero, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, San Jose State University

H.M.W Bos, PhD

Assitant Professor of Sociology, University of Amsterdam

Lisa D Brush, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh

Neal Caren

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Mary Ann Clawson, PhD

Professor of Sociology, Wesleyan University

Dan Clawson, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Philip Cohen, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of Maryland

D’Lane Compton, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of New Orleans

Shelley J. Correll, PhD

Professor of Sociology, Stanford University

David H. Demo, PhD

Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Catherine Donovan PhD

Professor of Social Relations, University of Sunderland

Sinikka Elliott, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, North Carolina State University

Louis Edgar Esparza, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, California State University, Los Angeles

Laurie Essig, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Middlebury College

Myra Marx Ferree, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tina Fetner, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, McMaster University

Jessica Fields, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology and Sexuality Studies, San Francisco State University

Melissa M. Forbis, PhD

Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology, SUNY Stonybrook

Gary J. Gates, PhD

Williams Distinguished Scholar, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law

Naomi Gerstel, Phd

Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts

Katherine Giuffre, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, Colorado College

Gloria González-López, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

Theodore Greenstein, PhD

Professor and Director of Graduate Programs for Sociology, North Carolina State University

Jessica Halliday Hardie

NICHD Postdoctoral Fellow, Population Research Institute, Pennsylvania State University

Mark D. Hayward

Professor of Sociology and Director, Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin

Melanie Heath, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, McMaster University

Amie Hess

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Meredith College

Melanie M. Hughes, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh

Shamus Rahman Khan, PhD

Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

Michael Kimmel, PhD

Professor of Sociology, SUNY

Sherryl Klienman, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina

Charles Q. Lau, PhD

Survey Research Division, RTI international

Jennifer Lee, PhD

Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California – Irvine

Jean Lynch, PhD

Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology and Gerontology, Miami University

Gill McCann, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of Vermont

Tey Meadow, PhD

Cotsen Fellow, Princeton University

Sarah O. Meadows, PhD

Social Scientist, RAND Corporation

Eleanor M. Miller, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of Vermont

Debra Minkoff, PhD

Professor of Sociology, Barnard College, Columbia University

Beth Mintz, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of Vermont

Dawne Moon, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Marquette University

Mignon R. Moore, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles and Chair, Race, Gender & Class Section of the American Sociological Association

Chandra Muller

Professor of Sociology and Faculty Research Associate, Population Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Nancy A. Naples, PhD

Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies, University of Connecticut

Peter M. Nardi, PhD

Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Pitzer College, The Claremont Colleges

Alondra Nelson, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Columbia University

Jodi O’Brien, PhD

Professor and Chair of Sociology, Seattle University

Katherine O’Donnell, PhD

Senior Lecturer, School of Social Justice, University College Dublin

Ramona Faith Oswald, PhD

Professor of Family Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Joseph M. Palacios, PhD

Adjunct Professor of Social Sciences, Georgetown University

C.J. Pascoe, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Colorado College

Dudley L. Poston, Jr., PhD

Professor of Sociology, Texas A&M University

Nicole C. Raeburn, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of San Francisco

Kimberly Richman, PhD

Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies, University of San Francisco

Barbara J. Risman, PhD

Professor and Head of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago

Sharmila Rudrappa, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

Stephen T. Russel, PhD

Professor of Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona

Virginia Rutter, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, Framingham State University

Natalia Sarkisian

Associate Professor of Sociology, Boston College

Saskia Sassen, PhD

Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

Liana C. Sayer

Associate Professor of Sociology, Ohio State University

Michael Schwalbe

Professor, Department of Sociology, North Carolina State University

Michael Schwartz, PhD

Chair and Professor of Sociology, Stony Brook University

Christine R. Schwartz, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pepper Schwartz, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of Washington

Denise Benoit Scott, PhD

Professor of Sociology, State University of New York at Geneseo

Richard Sennett, PhD

Professor of Sociology, New York University

Eve Shapiro, PhD

Professor of Sociology, Westfield State University

Eran Shor, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, McGill University

Wendy Simonds

Professor of Sociology, Georgia State University

sarah sobieraj

Associate Professor of Sociology, Tufts University

Judith Stacey, PhD

Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University

Arlene Stein, PhD

Department of Sociology, Rutgers University

Verta Taylor, PhD

Chair and Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

Debra J Umberson, PhD

Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

Suzanna Danuta Walters, PhD

Professor of Sociology, Northeastern University

Jacqueline S. Weinstock, PhD

Associate Professor of Human Development & Family Studies, University of Vermont

Amy C. Wilkins, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Colorado

Cai Wilkinson, FHEA, PhD

Lecturer in International Relations, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University

Kristi Williams, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, Ohio State University

Kerry Woodward, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology, California State University, Long Beach

Psychologists

Nancy Lynn Baker, PhD, ABPP

Diplomate in Forensic Psychology, Director, Forensic Concentration, Fielding Graduate University and Past President of the Society for the Psychology of Women

Meg Barker, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Psychology, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Joel Becker, PhD

Prof., Dept. of Psychology,UCLA and Assoc. Clinical Prof., UCLA, Medical School

Steven Botticelli, PhD

Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

Petra M Boynton, PhD

Social Psychologist, Lecturer in International Primary Health Research,UCL Medical School, University College London

Mark Brennan-Ing, PhD

Senior Research Scientist, AIDS Community Research Initiative of America

Alice S. Carter, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts – Boston

Carol A. Carver, PhD

Licensed Psychologist and Past President of the Oregon Psychological Association

Armand R. Cerbone, PhD, ABPP

Board Certified Psychologist

Kirstyn Y.S. Chun, PsyD

Tenured Faculty, Counseling and Psychological Services, California State University, Long Beach

Victoria Clarke, PhD

Associate Professor in Sexuality Studies, Department of Psychology, University of the West of England, UK

Gilbert W. Cole, PhD

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center Guest Lecturer, Union Theological Seminary

M. Lynne Cooper, PhD

Associate Editor, American Psychologist and Curators’ Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychological Science, University of Missouri – Columbia

Howard H. Covitz, PhD, ABPP

Board Certified Psychologist

Dennis Debiak, PsyD

Adjust Associate Professor, Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology, Widener University and Secretary, Division of Psychoanalysis, American Psychological Association

Rachel H. Farr, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Department of Psychology,University of Massachusetts Amherst

Herb Gingold, PhD

Co-Founder, Noir Institute

Abbie E. Goldberg, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology, Clark University

Carla Golden, PhD

Professor of Psychology, Ithaca College

Robert-Jay Green, PhD

Executive Director, ROCKWAY INSTITUTE for LGBT Psychology & Public Policy Distinguished Professor, California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) at Alliant International University

Beverly Greene, PhD, ABPP

Professor of Psychology, St. John’s University

Harold D. Grotevant, PhD

Rudd Family Foundation Chair in Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Sarah A. Hayes-Skelton, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Massachussets Boston

Stacy S. Horn, PhD

Associate Professor of Educational and Developmental Psychology, Univeristy of Illinois at Chicago

Sharon G. Horne, PhD

Associate Professor, Counseling Psychology, Department of Counseling and School Psychology, The University of Massachusetts Boston

Harm J. Hospers

Endowed chair Health Psychology and Homosexuality, Dean University College Maastricht, Dean Faculty of Humanities and Sciences, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Steven E. James, PhD

Chair of Psychology & Clinical Mental Health Counseling Programs, Goddard College

Darren Langdridge, PhD

Head of Department of Psychology, The Open University, UK

Chet Lesniak, PhD

Core Faculty, Counseling Specialization, School of Psychology, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Walden University

Heidi Levitt, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Boston

William D. Lubart, PhD

Faculty and Supervisor of Psychotherapy, The William Alanson White Institute

Carien Lubbe-De Beer, PhD

Senior Lecturer, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Pretoria

Tasim Martin-Berg, CPsychol

Lecturer, Glasgow Caledonian University

James P. Maurino, MSW, PhD

Assistant Professor, Human Development and Community and Human Services, SUNY-Empire State College

Ximena E. Mejia, PhD, LMHC

Director, Counseling Services, Parton Health and Counseling Center, Middlebury College

Roger Mills-Koonce, PhD

Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Lin S. Myers, PhD

Professor of Psychology, California State University – Stanislaus

Jo Oppenheimer, MA

The Counseling Center for Women, Israel

Susan M. Orsillo, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychology, Suffolk University

David Pantalone, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Suffolk University

Jeffrey T. Parsons, Ph.D

Professor of Psychology and Public Health, Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Maureen Perry-Jenkins, PhD

Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Madelyn Petrow-Cohen, LCSW

psychotherapist in private practice in NYC & Maplewood, NJ

Todd R. Poch, PSYD, MALD, BCFM

Assistant Professor in Psychology, Florida Institute of Technology

Scott D. Pytluk, PhD

Professor, Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Argosy University, Chicago

Damien W. Riggs

Editor, Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, Senior Lecturer in Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University, Australia

Lizabeth Roemer, PhD

Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts – Boston

Ritch C. Savin-Williams

Professor, Developmental Psychology and Director, Sex and Gender Lab, Cornell University

J. Greg Serpa, PhD

Clinical Psychologist, Department of Veterans Affairs and Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA Department of Psychology

Louise Bordeaux Silverstein, PhD

Professor of Psychology, Yeshiva University

Bonnie R. Strickland, PhD, ABPP

Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts

Karen Suyemoto, PhD

Associate Professor, Psychology and Asian American Studies, University of Massachusetts – Boston

Lance P. Swenson, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, Suffolk University

Fiona Tasker, PhD

Department of Psychological Sciences, Birbeck University of London

Marcus C. Tye, Ph.D

Professor of Psychology, Dowling College

Richard G. Wight, PhD

Associate Researcher, UCLA School of Public Health

Other Scholars

Paula Amato, MD

Associate Professor, Oregon Health and Science University and Board Member, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association

Ellen Ann Andersen, PhD

Associate Professor of Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies University of Vermont

Mary Barber, MD

Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Co-Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health

Judith Bradford, PhD

Co-Chair, The Fenway Institute and Director, Center for Population Research in LGBT Health

Robert P Cabaj, MD

Associate Clinical Professor in Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco

Ryan M. Combs, PhD

Research Associate, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, University of Manchester, UK

Christopher Conti, MD

Assistant Clinical Professor, New York University Medical Center

Russel W. Dalton, EdD

Associate Professor of Religious Education, Brite Divinity School Texas Christian University

John D’Emilio, PhD

Professor of History, Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago

Anne Douglass, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education and Human Development, University of Massachusetts – Boston

Jack Drescher, MD

Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, New York Medical College

Oliva M. Espin, PhD

Professor Emerita, Department of Women’s Studies, San Diego State University

Nanette Gartrell, MD

Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law

Patti Geier, LCSW

Therapist

Alan Gilbert

John Evans Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.

Ann P. Haas, PhD

Senior Project Specialist, American Founcation for Suicide Prevention and Professor (ret.) Department of Health Sciences, Lehman College, CUNY

Ellen Haller, PhD

Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco

Nicole Heilbron, PhD

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine

Tonda Hughes, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor and Head of Health Systems Science, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago

Daniel Hurewitz, PhD

Assistant Professor, History Department, Hunter College, CUNY

Jesse Joad, MD, MS

Professor Emerita, Pediatrics, University of California – Davis and Vice President for Education, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association

Debra Kaysen, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Washington

Sang Hea Kil, PhD

Assistant Professor of Justice Studies, San Jose State University

Martha Kirkpatrick, MD

Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UCLA

Holning Lau, JD

Professor of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Arlene Istar Lev, LCSW

School of Social Welfare, SUNY Albany

Lisa W. Loutzenheiser, PhD

Associate Professor of Curriculum and Pedagogy, University of British Columbia

Michael F. Lovenheim, PhD

Assistant Professor of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University

Catherine A. Lugg, PhD

Professor of Education, Rutgers University

Gerald P. Mallon, DSW

Julia Lathrop Professor of Child Welfare, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College

Laura Mamo, PhD

Associate Professor of Health Education, San Francisco State University

Sean G. Massey

Associate Professor, Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program Binghamton University

Kenneth J. Meier, PhD

Charles H. Gregory Chair in Liberal Arts, Department of Political Science, Texas A&M University

Stephen O. Murray

El Instituto Obregón, San Francisco, CA

Douglas NeJaime, PhD

Associate Professor of Law, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Henry Ng, MD, MPH, FAAP, FACP

Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Center for Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, MetroHealth Medical Center

Julie Novkov, PhD

Chair, Department of Political Science, Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies,University at Albany, SUNY

Loren A. Olson, MD

Des Moines, IA

Donald L. Opitz, PhD

Assistant Professor, School for New Learning at DePaul University

Katherine Parkin, PhD

Associate Professor of History, Monmouth University

Jessica Peet, PhD

School of International Relations, University of Southern California

Victoria Pollock

Adjunct Faculty at the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto.

Jesus Ramirez-Valles PhD, MPH

Professor of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago

Nancy J. Ramsay, PhD

Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University

Paul J. Rinaldi, PhD

Clinical Director, The Addiction Institute of New York, Department of Psychiatry, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center

Barbara Rothberg, DSW, LCSW

Therapist

Esther Rothblum, PhD

Professor of Women’s Studies, San Diego State University

Ralph Roughton, MD

Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, Emory University

Leila J. Rupp, PhD

Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Shawn Schulenberg, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Marshall University

Ken Sherrill, PhD

Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Hunter College, CUNY

Vincent M. B. Silenzio, MD, MPH

Associate Professor,Departments of Psychiatry, Community & Preventive Medicine, and Family Medicine, University of Rochester

Stephen V. Sprinkle, PhD

Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, and Professor of Practical Theology Brite Divinity School

William J. Spurlin, PhD, FHEA

Professor of English, Brunel University London

Carole S. Vance, PhD, MPH

Assoc. Clinical Professor, Mailman School of Public Health,Columbia University

Angelia R. Wilson, PhD

Politics Discipline, University of Manchester, UK

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • psweet

    Ed, there doesn’t appear to be a claim that the reviewer’s were involved in the research. Rather, two of the researchers were invited to write commentaries on the paper (still a conflict of interest, but not at the same level as what you described). Given that peer review is typically anonymous, it would be a difficult thing to conclude, unless the journal also set aside it’s usual policy to proclaim that it had caused such a conflict.

  • anteprepro

    Secondly, the two scholars who did the peer review of the research were part of the team that did the study!

    WTF!? The methodological flaws pale in comparison.

  • ArtK

    Wow! That’s quite a list. It’s hard to get 200 academics to agree on the time of day, much less something as controversial as this.

    Cue the apologists: “Look how the establishment is trying to suppress our research! We’re Brave Mavericks In Search of the Truth™ and they want us censored! Political Correctness! ObamaCare! Teh Gay Agenda!”

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    I too suspect that “commentators invited to submit critiques” (as they’re called in the letter) ≠ “peer reviewers”.

  • Funny Diva

    psweet @1 thanks for that. My co-worker here in the lab and I had noticed that, too. Ed, you probably want to correct this in the OP.

    Anteprepro@2: see psweet’s comment @1.

    Those issues aside, thanks for keeping up with this. And good on those ethical social science researchers for throwing their weight behind this critique and call for correction/re-evaluation.

  • parasiteboy

    psweet@1 is correct.

    With that said, since the chief editor or associate editors pick the people who conduct the peer review, it would seem likely that the anonymous reviewers were picked because they are sympathetic to the anti-gay marriage cause and would view the studies outcome positively for there to be such a quick turnaround time.

    Ed had blogged before about the chief editor, James Wright, and his views against gay marriage

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2012/06/20/fake-study-author-a-lifelong-bigot/

  • baal

    Secondly, the two scholars who did the peer review of the research were part of the team that did the study

    and

    We further question the selection of commenters for the Regnerus paper. While Cynthia Osborne and Paul Amato are certainly well-respected scholars, they are also both active participants in the Regnerus study.

    @1 has it right. Evenso, it really is one thing to have a bad paper slip out due to negligence and it’s a different thing when it looks intentional. Here the details on the process really make it look like the publisher is pushing a viewpoint.

    The solution will have to include the publisher naming names or having a quiet resignation sometime in the next few months. If all the publisher does is embargo Regnerus or allows him to publish in the future after posting a short retraction then the best and better researchers will not send their research to this journal. That’s about as big a punishment as is available in the science world.

    I agree with @2 that the substantive harm is that the paper is already out there and being used by rightwing asshats to drive their bigoted agenda. The letter above is a key way to strongly suggest to other publishers to not let future Regnerus-like publications happen.

  • ArtK

    I think the fact that the public commentors had an obvious bias is enough to make me believe that the peer reviewers were equally or even more biased. In the interest of accuracy, I think Ed should fix this, but it’s still evidence that the whole paper is a put-up job with a political goal.

  • raven

    It’s just routine fundie xian propaganda. About the same as “creation science research” an oxymoron and myth if there ever was one.

    They lie a lot.

    There is some woman at an Ohio university who has published many papers showing that having an abortion makes you go insane.

    Of course, it’s wrong and everyone knows it. Those papers have been discredited over and over by real social sciences research.

    No one except the christofascists ever pay attention. I can’t even remember her name and don’t care enought to even look it up.

  • raven

    @1 has it right. Evenso, it really is one thing to have a bad paper slip out due to negligence and it’s a different thing when it looks intentional. Here the details on the process really make it look like the publisher is pushing a viewpoint.

    That can happen. Occasionally in biology, a fundie xian editor has let some trashy and flawed creationist paper get published with nonexistent peer review.

    Usually after an investigation, the paper gets retracted. A guy named Sternberg did this and got caught.

    Hitchens: Religion poisons everything. If Hitchens had only written these 3 words, he would still be quoted a century from now.

  • raven

    google captures:

    Abortion-Depression Link Doesn’t Hold Up, Mental Health …

    ww.huffingtonpost.com/…/abortion-mental-illness-not-linked_n_13…

    5 Mar 2012 – … a link between abortions and mental illness does not hold up to scrutiny, … by Priscilla Coleman of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, has been a … never asserted that abortions caused the mental health problems.

    Untrue: Abortion Leads to Mental Health Problems | World of …

    psychcentral. com/…/untrue-abortion-leads-to-mental-health-problem…

    by C Rooms

    7 Mar 2012 – Untrue: Abortion Leads to Mental Health Problems Does having an abortion lead to a greater likelihood of having future mental health …

    There you go. More than you wanted to know about xian lies and pseudoscience.

    Next up. Atheism makes you go insane and leads to cannibalism, evolution, quantum mechanics, and voting Democratic!!!

  • The Lorax

    And yet, ten years from now, people will still cite this study as if it were valid. Grease up your eyes, people; they will eventually roll.

  • psweet

    Just to be clear — I wasn’t defending either the paper or the journal. I simply figure they’re bad enough on their own without adding charges that can’t be substantiated.

  • otrame

    See, Dr. Regnerus, this is why science works, if only in the long run. If we assume for the sake of argument that you developed this study with no intention to deliberately bias it, still it is clear that it is very biased. You, like all other researchers, are human and have let your bias interfere with your research. It has happened to greater minds than yours. That is what peer review is for.

    If your bias was unintentional, you have cause to be very angry with the editor of Social Science Research, who clearly did not assign appropriate reviewers and rushed your paper through to printing. As a result your reputation has been permanently ruined. No social scientist will ever take you seriously again. Indeed, Social Science Research has seriously damaged its own reputation in this matter.

    Of course if you deliberately manipulated your data to give the answer you wanted, I put it to you that you are a liar. Your religion kind of frowns on that, I understand. Science certainly does. There are serious real-world consequences for lying while doing science, as you are learning.

    I suppose it is possible that you deliberately destroyed your career as a real researcher in order to provide anti-same sex marriage proponents with a peer-reviewed paper they can point to. I am sure, whether you deliberately lied or not, that you will make a fine living speaking out about how you were mistreated by the science community.

    But you will no longer be a member of the science community. Nor should you be.

  • ImaginesABeach

    I keep expecting the journal to claim to have been hacked.

  • John Hinkle

    The methodologies used in this paper and the interpretation of the findings are inappropriate.

    What?!? INCONCEIVABLE!!!

  • demonhauntedworld

    First, they point out that the article was published with astonishing speed, only five weeks from the time it was sent in to the time it was published. That’s unheard of in a real scientific journal. In fact, the scholars say, the other articles in that very issue of the journal averaged a full year from submission to publication. That is much more the norm in scientific publishing.

    While five weeks might be an unusually fast turnaround for this journal, I wouldn’t say it’s unheard of “in a real scientific journal”. Top journals like Science and Nature often have very quick turnaround times (Science claims that a typical turnaround time for articles is 14 weeks or less; Nature claims an average of 30 days from submission to first decision); the median turnaround time for the Journal of the American Medical Association is 42 days.

    Maybe it’s just my field, but I wouldn’t submit to a journal with a typical turnaround time of one year.

  • demonhauntedworld

    Addendum to above – sorry, I was quoting submission to acceptance times; obviously submission to publication times are longer, but with online publication these days, that is changing.

  • F

    Yes, the comment about the peer review is incorrect on the evidence.

    However, one may deduce that the peers in this case are teh suck, given how bad this paper was. (OK, unless it never actually did pass through peer review, or the reviews were ignored.)

  • demonhauntedworld

    Also – and let me emphasize that I’m not defending the Regnerus paper – Social Science Research gives the dates as follows:

    Received 1 Feb 2012

    Revised 29 Feb 2012

    Accepted 12 Mar 2012

    Available online 10 June 2012

    By my calendar, that makes 5 months between submission and (online) publication, or 5 weeks between initial submission and acceptance.

  • Pseudonym

    I’m also not defending the paper, but I’ve submitted to Oxford Bioinformatics, and had papers “early access” published within six weeks. Turn-around time can be pretty fast these days in the good venues.

    @raven:

    Hitchens: Religion poisons everything. If Hitchens had only written these 3 words, he would still be quoted a century from now.

    Today, people still balk that at the time Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he owned slaves. And in a hundred years’ time, people will still balk that at the time Hitchens wrote that, he sent his daughter to a Quaker school.

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  • Michael Heath

    Steven Birns:

    Exposes Liberal Intolerance and Anti-Religious Bigotry

    You really want to defend antipathy toward lying and misinforming others which directly harms people as pejoratively ‘intolerant’ and ‘bigotry’? Sign me up for this form of intolerance. And I advise you to learn what the actual definition of bigotry is given your misuse of the term here. You’ll find the people you defend are the ones demonstrating bigotry, not the experts who defend their discipline’s obligation to be honest and condemn those who would lie in a way which misinforms the public and causes human suffering.

    You are truly a disgusting human being Mr. Birn.

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