Report: #939247

Complaint Review: ELSEVIER SCIENCE PUBLISHER - New York New York

  • Submitted:
  • Updated:
  • Reported By: Scott Rose — New York New York U.S.A.
  • ELSEVIER SCIENCE PUBLISHER 125 Park Avenue New York, New York United States of America


*General Comment: Problematic Regnerus Study

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This is a complaint and warning about the Reed-Elsevier (aka, Elsevier) journal Social Science Research.

The journal Social Science Research publishes known scientific distortions, anti-minority hate speech, through corrupt publication processes that violate all ethics of science publishing. When anti-minority bigots subsequently reward the journal Social Science Research by causing its "impact factor" to rise explosively, neither the editors of Social Science Research -- nor those in the Reed-Elsevier administration above those editors -- take proper action to correct the scientific record.

Elsevier's and Social Science Research's behaviors undermine the trust on which science is based.


W. Bradford Wilcox, aka Brad Wilcox, is 1) an editorial board member of Elsevier's Social Science Research; and 2) Director of the Witherspoon Institute's program for "Marriage, Family and Democracy."

The Witherspoon Institute is an anti-gay bigot organization with a long and shameful history of distorting the scientific record to incite people to hatred of -- and discrimination against -- LGBTers. Witherspoon is the main funder of a study by Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas; the study is alleged to be on same-sex parents' child outcomes.  The $785,000 "study," however, is a hoax. The study does not support the conclusions it offers; and the conclusions it offers were contrived to demonize gay people.

Abusing his authority as an editorial board member of Elsevier's journal Social Science Research, Brad Wilcox proposed to editor-in-chief James Wright that the Regnerus study be paired for propagandistic anti-gay purposes with a study by Loren Marks, for online publication on June 10, 2012. Loren Marks previously had been presented by an anti-gay-rights group as an "expert witness" in a Proposition 8 case, but his testimony was disallowed when cross-examination revealed that 1) he had cheated in citing from studies that he had not read; and that 2) he knew nothing about the topic of same-sex parenting.

Wright consented to Wilcox's evil plot to publish the two studies in a same issue. To expedite publication in time for the studies to be perniciously exploited in anti-gay-rights political contexts during the 2012 elections, Wright enabled a corrupt publishing scheme for the Regnerus study.

Instead of locating appropriate experts in the field of same-sex parenting studies to do the peer review of the Regnerus submission, Elsevier's Social Science Research editor James Wright assigned the peer review of the Regnerus submission to persons known to be hostile to homosexuals and their rights, and who had conflicts of interest in carrying out the peer review, including that they had long-time associations with Regnerus and were paid consultants on the Regnerus study.

These non-topic-expert peer reviewers, friends of the researcher Regnerus, some with multiple conflicts of interest in doing the peer review, rubber stamped the Regnerus study for publication.

The egregious scientific errors and failings that the corrupt peer review procedures allowed improperly through into publication were rapidly noticed throughout the academy. One amicus brief in the Golinski-DOMA case analyzed the methodology of the Regnerus study as scientifically invalid; that brief was filed by eight major professional associations, including the American Medical Association. Separately, a group of over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s signed a letter to Elsevier's journal Social Science Research, expressing concern that the study does not support the conclusions it offers, and also expressing concern about the suspicious publication process for the Regnerus study.  That letter to this day continues to gather additional signatures. It has been signed by the president of the American Sociological Association and by the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Marriage and Family; the premiere science publication in the field.

In response to that letter, Elsevier's journal Social Science Research enabled a sham "audit" of the publication process for the twinned Regnerus and Marks studies. Editor James Wright assigned Social Science Research editorial board member Darren Sherkat to conduct the audit. The audit report does in fact state that the Regnerus study was published through a corrupted peer review process. However, with astonishing nerve, the audit also states that there was nothing unusual about that corrupt peer review process.  The audit completely exonerates Social Science Research's editor James Wright of all accountability for his enabling of the corrupt peer review process.  The audit report also excuses the peer reviewers' unethical behavior in not recusing themselves from doing the peer review, though knowing that they should have recused themselves, due to their conflicts of interest. Where the audit found that the peer reviewers had been lazy in carrying out their duties, it excused them on the basis that they are busy people.


With the invalid and corrupt peer review of the Regnerus study known to the world, Elsevier and Social Science Research should have retracted the Regnerus study from publication. If Regnerus wanted again to try to have his study accepted for publication, his submission would properly be put through valid peer review prior to any eventual future re-publication.


Anti-gay bigots all over the world are thrilled to have a bogus study "proving" that homosexuals are dangerous to children. They are visiting the website for Elsevier's journal Social Science Research, and downloading and citing the Regnerus and Marks studies at bigot stampede levels.

That activity causes the journal's "impact factor" to go up. As Elsevier and the Social Science Research journals are greedy, and care more about their impact factor than about the integrity of the scientific record, they are refusing to retract the Regnerus study, even though the world knows that the study only appeared in publication because of invalid, corrupt peer review.

Meanwhile, Wilcox's Witherspoon Institute, the anti-gay-rights organization that is the main funder of the Regnerus study, set up a stand-alone site for the Regnerus and Marks studies. 

The Elsevier site and the Witherspoon site each gain in visitor traffic thanks to each other's existence. But, whereas Witherspoon is a blatantly political organization, Elsevier's Social Science Research is purportedly a science journal. 

Therefore, for W. Bradford Wilcox to be on Elsevier's Social Science Research's editorial board, promoting the anti-gay hoax study that his anti-gay-rights organization funded, while he also is promoting the two studies through the Witherspoon site, violates all ethics of science publishing.


Elsevier's Social Science Research journal editor James Wright knew perfectly well that his editorial board member Wilcox's Witherspoon Institute had funded the Regnerus study and wanted it published in time for pernicious exploitation during the 2012 elections. Wright also knew that Wilcox/Witherspoon wanted the Regnerus study twinned in publication to the Marks study.

Not only did Wright apparently allow Wilcox to peer review one or the other of the Regnerus and Marks studies -- Wilcox also is a paid study consultant on the Regnerus study; Wilcox assists Regnerus with data analysis.


The published Regnerus study says that none of Regnerus's funders were involved in study design or data analysis.

However, that would appear to be a lie. Elsevier's Social Science Research's editorial board member Brad Wilcox -- who, remember, is also with Witherspoon, Regnerus's funder -- was issued a contract for data analysis on the Regnerus study. Regnerus did not release his raw data at the time his study was published. Instead, he released his study's Codebook and, separately, the published study. The numbers in the Codebook do not match the numbers in the published study.  The discrepancies could be due to anything -- including to illicit manipulation of the numbers by Regnerus and his paid study consultant Wilcox. At this stage, the public has no means of fact checking Regnerus's and Wilcox's work.

Nonetheless, it is certain that Regnerus's data are completely untrustworthy. For example, Regnerus asked his 2,988 study participants "Have you ever masturbated." Out of 2,988 study participants between the ages of 18 and 39, 620 said that they had never once in their lives masturbated. 

As obviously absurd and wrong as Regnerus's masturbation "finding" is, that's how absurd many of his "findings" about same-sex parents' child outcomes are. 

Yet, even as responsible scientists are -- in ever-increasing numbers -- expressing concern about the integrity of Elsevier, Social Science Research and its editors including James Wright, Darren Sherkat and W. Bradford Wilcox -- anti-gay bigots are trumpeting Regnerus's defamatory, false "findings" to the four corners of the earth, and Elsevier, instead of behaving responsibly and retracting the Regnerus study from publication, is doubling down with the Regnerus study, out of corporate greed to keep Social Science Research's impact factor up, along with the popularity of the anti-gay-rights Witherspoon Institute's stand-alone website promoting the Regnerus and Marks studies.


Social Science Research's editorial board member Brad Wilcox, whose Witherspoon Institute funded the Regnerus study, signed a letter in support of the Regnerus study under the banner of the anti-gay, Baptist "Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion."  

That letter contains multiple, very serious distortions of the scientific record. The letter admits that the Regnerus study has "limitations" but it does not state what those "limitations" are.

Worse still, a total of four Witherspoon Institute officials signed the letter without disclosing that their Witherspoon Institute funded the Regnerus study and is now very heavily promoting it in anti-gay-rights political contexts.  Elsevier's Social Science Research is planning to republish the Baylor letter on its site, without disclosing all of the conflicts of interest that that entails for Social Science Research's editorial board member Brad Wilcox.

In other words, Elsevier's Social Science Research's editor James Wright is planning to promote a Witherspoon vehicle for promotions of a study in his own journal, without disclosing that Brad Wilcox is 1) Director of the Witherspoon Institute program that funded the Regnerus study; 2) a member of Elsevier's Social Science Research editorial board; 3) a paid consultant on the Regnerus study; 4) a person with editorial authority over Witherspoon sites promoting the twinned Regnerus and Marks studies; and 5) a peer reviewer of one of the paired studies.

Elsevier, its journal Social Science Research and its editors James Wright and Brad Wilcox were asked if they intended to disclose Wilcox's various improper relationships in this matter, when the Baylor letter is published on the Social Science Research site. 

None of the parties gave us the courtesy of a reply.


This is not the first time in history that pseudoscience has been used as a weapon against a minority; but this particular incident marks Elsevier and Social Science Research as scientifically disreputable organizations.

The correct and honorable action for Elsevier, Social Science Research, James Wright, Darren Sherkat and Brad Wilcox now to take would be to retract the Regnerus study from publication, and to put it through valid, ethical and appropriate professional peer review prior to any eventual future republication.

Sadly, the company and its employees do not appear likely now to behave honorably, and/or with the slightest interest in protecting the integrity of the scientific record.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/10/2012 05:04 PM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/elsevier-science-publisher/new-york-new-york-10017/elsevier-science-publisher-reed-elsevier-lexis-nexis-social-science-research-publisher-v-939247. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#1 General Comment

Problematic Regnerus Study

AUTHOR: Dragon - (United States of America)

POSTED: Thursday, September 20, 2012
I have a copy of the Regnerus study and I have to conclude that it is a deeply flawed study. As a student in a.doctoral program, I would use this study to illustrate the importance of having a study that actually measures operational definitions that applied to the study and also correctly identifies the population. Specifically, the Regnerus study failed to meet the basic criteria for credible research. It does not answer its own research question.

It does not measure the population that the study purports to measure.  It violates peer review standards and ethical standards by using scholars who were on the payroll of the study. The journal that published the paper usually takes a minimum of 10 months or more to review any study before publication and this study was pushed through in 5 weeks.  The fact that the study was cleared by University of Texas may be irrelevant to the academic problems presented in the research.

Politics aside, scholars from a variety of disciplines should take the opportunity to check my observations for themselves.
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