September 12, 2012
Mark Regnerus Cleared Of Misconduct in Research Involving Gay Parents
UT Austin will stop investigating associate professor.
(Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect the findings of a forthcoming audit of the Social Science Research peer-review process.)
The University of Texas at Austin has concluded its investigation of Mark Regnerus and declared the associate professor of sociology not guilty of research misconduct during his controversial study of children whose parents had same-sex relationships.
UT Austin research integrity officer Robert A. Peterson investigated eight charges against Regnerus made by freelance writer Scott Rosensweig (who writes under the byline Scott Rose) and found that "none of the allegations ... were substantiated."
"In brief, Mr. Rose believed that the Regnerus research was seriously flawed and inferred that there must be scientific misconduct," wrote Peterson. "However, there is no evidence to support that inference."
From the university's perspective, the matter is now closed. Peterson explained that whether Regnerus's research conclusions are limited or flawed "should be left to debates that are currently underway in the academy and future research that validates or invalidates his findings."
The study in question, titled "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?" collected data from nearly 3000 adults. It found that "differences exist between children of parents who have had same-sex relationships and those with [heterosexual] married parents."
The study sparked outcry from many advocacy groups and academics. An audit by one editorial board member of Social Science Research, the journal which published Regnerus's study, concluded that the study should have been disqualified during the peer-review process.
Yet an influential group of social scientists--including Michael Emerson, Christian Smith, Rodney Stark, W. Bradford Wilcox, and Bradley Wright--issued a public statement defending Regnerus's study.
“We think that the Regnerus study, which is one of the first to rely on a large, random, and representative sample of children from parents who have experienced same-sex relationships, has helped to inform the ongoing scholarly and public conversation about same-sex families in America,” wrote the group. “"As social scientists, our hope is that more such studies will be forthcoming shortly, and that future journalistic coverage of such studies, and this contentious topic, will be more civil, thorough, and thoughtful than has been the coverage of the new study by Professor Mark Regnerus."
CT recently reported on the politics of science in regards to Regnerus' study. CT also recently interviewed Regnerus on Sex Economics 101 -- his research into the sexual attitudes and behavior of young adults -- and published a cover story on his provocative argument for early marriage. He also participated in a Village Green panel on how best to encourage premarital abstinence.