Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Education researchers retract paper for differences in “positionality”

with 5 comments

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 4.03.27 PMHere’s an odd one from the University of Western Australia’s education journal, Education Research and Perspectives: A paper was retracted at the request of the authors, both UWA professors, because the participants “may have differed significantly from others in terms of their positionality,” whatever that means.

Here’s the notice:

The Editor in Chief and the authors have agreed to retract this article. It has come to light since the article was published that three of the study participants may have differed significantly from others in terms of their positionality at the time that the research was conducted. Given that the conclusions were drawn on the basis of the aggregated data, this poses a threat to the overall trustworthiness of the study. The paper has thus been retracted in full.

Retractions are necessary at times to maintain the rigour and integrity of the scholarly research record. The authors had no intention to publish conclusions based on compromised data, and demonstrated a strong commitment to research integrity in addressing this issue. The Journal applauds the researchers for prioritising the need to ensure the credibility of their findings over any other consideration.

The Journal apologises to its readers for any inconvenience.

Here’s what author Mark Pegrum told us:

My co-author and I are currently working on a revised version of the article which, in time, will go through the usual peer review processes and, subject to approval, it will be published online. The modifications and updates will be evident in the new version.

Here’s the abstract for “‘Where do you switch it on?’ A Case Study of the Enhancement and Transformation of University Lecturers’ Teaching Practices with Digital Technologies,” which according to Google Scholar has never been cited:

This paper reports on a two-year case study of university lecturers’ professional learning about digital technologies, and their development of associated innovative teaching practices. During this time, new hardware and software, as well as planned professional development (PD) opportunities, were made available to assist lecturers in a Faculty of Education at an Australian university to integrate digital technologies into their teaching. Results indicate that participating lecturers succeeded in integrating a range of digital technologies over the 2011-2012 period, with some lecturers transforming their teaching practices substantially. A key finding was that the provision of formal PD was only a springboard – much unplanned and unanticipated professional learning occurred through informal interaction, with lecturers co-learning with colleagues, and indeed with students, in an environment of discovery and experimentation. Formal learning was thus complemented by a networked, or even viral, model of the spread of knowledge and skills among colleagues, students, and indeed wider educational communities. The paper concludes that educators benefit greatly from a combination of formal and informal professional learning strategies when it comes to integrating digital technologies into their practices in pedagogically innovative ways. Two vignettes are included to illustrate and authenticate the findings.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen


  • fi_c July 7, 2014 at 11:48 am
    • Rolf Degen July 7, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      This explanation does not make any sense to me. But that article cites ten times the word “postmodern”, so this should be a case for Alan Sokal (“He is best known to the wider public for his criticism of postmodernism” Wikipedia).

      • Narad July 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm

        I suspect that “positionality” here refers to the subjects’ place in the educational social/power structure or hierarchy, which makes a bit more sense if one is looking at the behavior of lecturers.

  • Edward Michelini July 7, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Apparently the authors did not all agree components of the paper, a fairly glaring oversight if your name is on it.

  • Matthias Maiwald July 7, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Not sure — but this makes me wonder whether “positionality” here might serve as a “weasel word”, as nicely described on a website by Don Watson, speech writer of former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating:

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