Robert VerBruggen of NRO:
I previously wrote about the frivolous ethics complaint against Mark Regnerus, the author of the recent study on gay parenting. Now, the journal that published the study, Social Science Research, has conducted an internal audit. The audit will be published officially in the journal’s November issue, but it’s already made its way into the hands of numerous journalists, including yours truly. I have also read an accompanying essay by the journal’s editor, James Wright.
The audit is not nearly as critical — or revelatory — as Regnerus’s opponents seem to think. It merely bolsters the basic conclusion that every fair-minded observer came to long ago: Regnerus’s research certainly has its flaws, but so do the other studies on this topic.
The audit’s main purpose is to evaluate the publication process — the auditor was given access to all the correspondence relating to the study. Of course, the underlying issue is whether the Regnerus study is so unsound that it should not have been published.
One of the allegations against the journal is that when it chose scholars to publish responses alongside the study, it picked two people who had been involved in the study itself — a conflict of interest. Ironically, the person chosen for the audit, sociologist Darren E. Sherkat, is also not a neutral observer: He has been hurling scatological references at the study since it was published. One blog post he wrote was titled “The Gold Standard for Right Wing Propaganda” and called the study a “piece of sh[**].” The comments he’s made since the audit are in precisely the same vein.