...Regnerus’s Seeming Falsification of Data
Falsification of data can be qualitative as well as quantitative.
If a researcher surveyed 25 Hutu, for example, but intentionally misreported that he had surveyed 75 Hutu, in order to appear to obtain a research result, which result he and/or his study’s funders desired, but which was not a valid result, then the researcher would be guilty of quantitative falsification of data.
If, on the other hand, the researcher surveyed 25 Hutu, but intentionally misreported that he had surveyed 25 Tutsi, in order to appear to obtain a research result, which result he and/or his study’s funders desired, but which was not a valid result, then the researcher would be guilty of qualitative falsification of data.
Regnerus appears to have carried out a qualitative falsification of his data, and perhaps a deliberate one, where he labels certain of the parents of his young adult respondents as being “lesbian mothers” and/or “gay fathers” without having formulated an operational definition for “lesbian mother” or “gay father,” and additionally without having done anything scientifically to determine whether the persons he labels as “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers” are indeed “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers.”
Nock explained the necessity — to valid social science research — of working with a valid operational definition: “In social science literature, the process of translating a concept into one or more empirical indicators is known as developing an operational definition of a concept.” Nock continues: “In social science research, the concepts used, frequently come to have conventional operational definitions. Researchers using accepted operational definitions are able to replicate others’ research, and build upon it. In this fashion, social science advances, as any science might.”
Writing about the specific requirements for sociological surveys in the field of gay parenting, Nock says: “With regard to the question at hand” – (which question at hand happened to be gay parenting child outcomes, Regnerus’s alleged study topic) — “we would need operational definitions of “gay”, “lesbian”, “bisexual, “parent”, “child”, “child’s health”, and “child’s well being.’” Regnerus apparently did not work with operational definitions for any of those things.
Nock states that without a valid operational definition of a gay or lesbian parent, researchers cannot know what is being studied.
He notes, moreover, that “The precise definition of all concepts to be used is crucial to the capability to replicate studies.” And he says: “Scientific evidence accumulates and gains credibility only through replication.”
Regnerus, with no operational definition of the terms “lesbian mother” or “gay father,” asked one — (1) – question, only, of his study’s respondents towards his effort in labeling certain of his study subjects’ parents as “lesbian mothers” and/or “gay fathers.” Here is that question:
“From when you were born until age 18 (or until you left home to be on your own), did either of your parents ever have a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex?”
As the Inquiry Panel will recognize, a parent of a Regnerus survey respondent who had had only one — (1) – “one-night stand” with a same-sex partner, and otherwise personally identified as heterosexual throughout their life, would... be classified as a gay parent.
That Regnerus’s seemingly – “operational definition-free” – study seems invalid is highlighted in an analysis of it filed as part of an amicus brief in the Golinski-DOMA case by eight major professional organizations including the American Medical Association. The AMA brief very pointedly notes that 1) the Regnerus study placed individual participants between the ages of 18 and 39 into one of eight family structure categories such as “divorced,” and “step family,” but 2) “there was no category for “same-sex couple.”
The italicizing of that phrase occurs in the AMA brief. It must be emphasized here that eight major professional associations — including the American Medical Association — want to be sure that the Court pays attention to the fact that the Regnerus gay parenting study’s categories do not include a category for same-sex couples....