A prominent professor at Columbia University is trying to retract the article due to irregular practices by his colleague.
Professor Donald Green has petitioned Science magazine to retract an article about a study he co-authored last year, which investigated the ability of openly gay canvassers to influence support for same-sex marriage, according to The Associated Press.
Original data found to be nonexistent
Professor Green teaches political science at Columbia, and expressed his desire to retract the article after the integrity of the data was questioned by two graduate students from California, who were attempting to set up a similar study.
“I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewer, and readers of Science,” wrote Green in his correspondence with Science magazine.
The controversy arose after study co-author, UCLA graduate assistant Michael LaCour, was unable to produce the raw data from which the study’s findings were supposedly drawn. LaCour has since claimed to have accidentally deleted the data from an online survey.
Although LaCour did not immediately respond to a request for comment, his personal website contained a note which claimed: “I’m gathering evidence and relevant information so I can provide a single comprehensive response. I will do so at my earliest opportunity.”
Widely reported science article now retracted
The article received widespread media attention, but now it seems the results could have been falsified. Editor-in-chief of Science magazine, Marcia McNutt, stated that the publication “takes this case extremely seriously and will strive to correct the scientific literature as quickly as possible.”
“No peer review process is perfect, and in fact it is very difficult for peer reviewers to detect artful fraud,” McNutt continued. “Given the fact that Dr. Green has requested retraction, Science will move swiftly and take any necessary action at the earliest opportunity.”
The study told of how openly gay canvassers had greater success in convincing voters to support same-sex marriage than straight canvassers. It was reported that opinion changes effected by the straight canvassers were not long lasting, while gay canvassers effected opinion changes that persisted 9 months later.
Professor Green has since updated his online CV with the addition of a parenthetical note which specifies that the study described in the Science article has since been retracted.