I'll give you the money quote first, because it's devastating. When a scholarly journal is criticized for printing something, it assigns a member of the editorial board to conduct a review. The reviewer's conclusion? "It's bullshit." (A major h/t to John Aravosis at AmericaBlog for catching this.)
The study in this case is the controversial report by Mark Regnerus, Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, on parenting that concluded, in the face of many other studies, that seme-sex couples were in many ways flawed as parents. gizmo59 wrote an excellent diary, Social Science Malpractice: Slandering Same Sex Couples as Parents, on this when the study was released in June. Now, the journal that published it has disowned it in no uncertain terms. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the journal concluded that
The peer-review process failed to identify significant, disqualifying problems with a controversial and widely publicized study that seemed to raise doubts about the parenting abilities of gay couples, according to an internal audit scheduled to appear in the November issue of the journal, Social Science Research, that published the study.Excellent article, which I'll summarize while trying to address how it applies to gizmo59's points below the great orange sorting bun.
Slanted analysis? ABSOLUTELY! Beside the failure of the peer-review process,
The highly critical audit, a draft of which was provided to The Chronicle by the journal’s editor, also cites conflicts of interest among the reviewers, and states that “scholars who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the review process.”(all boldface type is my own editorial decision, not the Chronicle's)
The article explains that, to counter the robust critique detailed in gizmo59's diary, the opponents of same-sex anything mounted a defense, capped by this:
Yes, that's Mark Regnerus strapped to a rack, as the Weekly Standard says "We're victims here on the right." Victims of kneejerk stupidity, maybe.
So they put Darren E. Sherkat, a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, on the case, and here's what he found:
Sherkat was given access to all the reviews and correspondence connected with the paper, and was told the identities of the reviewers. According to Sherkat, Regnerus’s paper should never have been published. His assessment of it, in an interview, was concise: “It’s bullshit,” he said.Why? First, definition of terms. You were a lesbian mother or a gay father in this study if you had ever had a relationship with someone of the same sex, regardless of whether you were raising a child during this relationship. FAIL! The net is that the study included two -- count them, two -- lesbian mothers, which led Sherkat to present the labeling of the data as "misleading."
Second, there was a problem with the reviewers, which Sherkat describes as ideological:
In his audit, he writes that the peer-review system failed because of “both ideology and inattention” on the part of the reviewers (three of the six reviewers, according to Sherkat, are on record as opposing same-sex marriage). What’s more, he writes that the reviewers were “not without some connection to Regnerus,” and suggests that those ties influenced their reviews.COLLUSION!!! If we don't have real facts, let's just make them up.
Reviewers uniformly downplayed or ignored the fact that the study did not examine children of identifiably gay and lesbian parents, and none of the reviewers noticed that the marketing-research data were inappropriate for a top-tier social-scientific journal.Well, of course not. Their ideology wouldn't let them. And then there's this:
Sherkat believes that Regnerus, whom he has known for two decades, made a decision to push a conservative political agenda in his academic work a number of years ago, and that this paper is evidence of it.The rest of the article deals with another article that was flawed in the same issue, and then it turns to an attempt to rehabilitate the editor of the journal, James D. Wright, a professor of sociology at the University of Central Florida, who was also subjected to criticism for printing the Regnerus study. Read it at your convenience; it's an interesting window into how academics deal with issues like this.
So the study is garbage, and the fact that so many people criticized it is what got Social Science Research to look at it and come to that conclusion. Something else we're up against, and an illustration of the value -- nay, the necessity -- of being the squeaky wheel.