Meet two data sleuths who paid a steep price for raising concerns about a problematic paper

Researchers Malte Elson and Patrick Markey probably didn’t know what they were getting into when they first raised questions about a problematic study of the possible effects of violent video games.

Like many other data sleuths out there, they simply wanted to ensure the scientific record wasn’t muddied by problematic data — particularly in such a high-profile area with a potentially profound impact on policy.  Although their efforts ultimately paid off — the paper was retracted, and the first author lost her PhD — they also paid a price.

During the investigation, The Ohio State University (OSU), where the study authors were based, filed a complaint against Elson and Markey, arguing they had violated OSU’s confidentiality policy by going public with their concerns. (This isn’t the first time OSU has faced questions over its handling of a misconduct investigation.)

To find out how the OSU complaint affected Elson and Markey, read our story out today in Motherboard.

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3 thoughts on “Meet two data sleuths who paid a steep price for raising concerns about a problematic paper”

  1. Please also read our open letter from concerned scientists about OSU’s response to Markey and Elson’s actions, which concludes that “the complaints against Markey and Elson are affronts to all researchers who care about the soundness of the scientific literature and act to maintain it. The Ohio State University should immediately retract its complaints against Markey and Elson. The Ohio State University owes them thanks for spending their time and expertise uncovering potential research misconduct that occurred under the purview of the Ohio State University Office of Research Compliance. Prof. Markey and Dr. Elson are both credits to their institutions, and we call on Villanova and Ruhr-Universität Bochum to offer them full support against Ohio State University’s chilling complaints.”

    An Open Letter in Support of Markey and Elson: Scientists defend two researchers trying to clean up the scientific literature:

  2. The Motherboard article states “Elson and Markey’s institutions—Villanova University in Pennsylvania and Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) in Germany, respectively—initiated probes looking into OSU’s concerns.”

    I believe this is backwards: Elson was at RUB; Markey is at Villanova.

    Nit-picking, I know…..

  3. Jodi Whitaker, the author who lost her Ph.D over the paper cannot be found on the AU website, and there are no mentions of her at AU.

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