Data “were destroyed due to privacy/confidentiality requirements,” says co-author of retracted gay canvassing study
In the 23-page document — available here — LaCour claims to
introduce evidence uncovering discrepancies between the timeline of events presented in Broockman et al. (2015) and the actual timeline of events and disclosure.
He also says that the graduate students who critiqued his work failed to follow the correct sampling procedure and chose an incorrect variable in what LaCour calls “a curious and possibly intentional ‘error.'” He writes:
When the correct variable is used, the distributions between the CCAP thermometer and the LaCour and Green (2014) thermometer are statistically distinguishable.
He says that the reason he is unable to produce the data requested by his critics that it was destroyed “in the interest of institutional requirements:”
I take full responsibility for errors in the design, implementation, and data collection regarding the field experiments and panel survey reported in LaCour and Green (2014). I also take full responsibility and apologize for misrepresenting survey incentives and funding in LaCour and Green (2014). In fact, I received a grant offer from the Williams Institute, but never accepted the funds, the LA GLBT received funding from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund., and the Ford Foundation grant did not exist. Instead, I raffled raffled Apple computers, tablets, and iPods to survey respondents as incentives. I located some of the receipts, Link here. Some of the raffle prizes were purchased for a previous experiment I conducted. I take full responsibility for destroying data in the interest of institutional requirements.
As we reported last week, LaCour’s co-author Donald Green wrote in a letter to Science that LaCour
claimed he deleted the source file accidentally, but a Qualtrics service representative who examined the account and spoke with UCLA Political Science Department Chair Jeffrey Lewis reported to him that she found no evidence of such a deletion.
LaCour’s response glosses over the apparent contradiction between “accidentally” deleting the file and having done so to satisfy institutional requirements:
This assertion by Professor Green is implausible, because when LaCour spoke with Qualtrics representative Derek Johanson on May 20, 2015, he had to supply a username on the account and the userid for the survey he had conducted. LaCour never shared these identifiers with anyone.
He also finds fault with his critics’ methods:
I note that Broockman et al. (2015)’s decision to not present the lead author with the critique directly, by-pass the peer-review process, privately investigate data collection activities without knowledge or consent of the author, demand confidential identifying information from respondents in a study without grounds or standing to do so, publicize unsubstantiated allegations and hearsay prior to a formal investigation, is unprecedented, unethical, and anomalous in the relevant literature.
David Broockman and Joshua Kalla — the two graduate students who questioned the work — and Peter Aronow, of Yale, issued this statement on Twitter:
— Josh Kalla (@j_kalla) May 30, 2015
LaCour spoke to The New York Times, saying, among other things, that
he lied about the funding of his study to give it more credibility. He said that some of his colleagues had doubted his work because they thought he did not have enough money to pay for a such a complex study, among them David Broockman, a political scientist at Stanford and one of the authors of a critique of his work published last week. Mr. LaCour said he thought the funding sources he claimed would shore up the plausibility of the work. “I messed up in that sense, and it could be my downfall,” he said.
A former collaborator of LaCour’s offered some context on Twitter:
in April/May 2013. We really sent out mail offering an iPad. UCLA IRB approved it. We got some real data! 38 whole responses! (2/n)
— Chris Skovron (@cskovron) May 30, 2015
he stopped returning my calls and emails and kicked me off the project. Now we know why! His timeline misrepresents the pilot. (4/4)
— Chris Skovron (@cskovron) May 30, 2015
This is a fast-moving story, so this post will likely be updated frequently.
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