(SNews) – A Florida State University (FSU) professor has suddenly quit his $190,000-a-year job after he was caught pushing fake data on racism studies.
After a 16-year tenure, Eric Stewart abruptly left FSU after allegations emerged that he faked data to make his studies exaggerate racism.
Stewart, who had six of his studies retracted, has been absent from the college since mid-March.
He hasn’t returned since a new investigation was launched over his work.
The allegations have renewed scrutiny over claims that he fabricated data by altering sample sizes to make the results appear more racist, the Florida Standard reports.
Stewart was first accused of falsifying data by Justin Pickett, a University of Albany criminology professor who co-authored a report on race and crime with Stewart in 2011.
In the study, the criminologists were looking to test whether the public was increasingly demanding longer sentences for black and Hispanic criminals as those minority populations grew.
In his 2019 complaint, Pickett said their findings showed no relationship between the growth of minority groups and the severity of criminal sentences handed to them.
Despite the result, the paper was published with “altered” data to claim there was a correlation.
Pickett notes that many of the changes appeared to have been tacked on just before publication.
The biggest change Pickett pointed out was their sample size growing to 1,184 respondents even though they only had 500, and that the study’s conclusion came from handpicking the data from 91 counties instead of the full list of 326.
“The data were also altered — intentionally or unintentionally — in other ways, and those alterations produced the article’s main findings,” Pickett wrote in his request to have the study retracted.
Pickett claimed his complaint was ignored by the university for months, and it was only after four more complaints were made against Stewart’s other studies focusing on race that the school launched a committee to look into the matter.
The three-person committee, however, contained two individuals who had co-authored studies with Stewart, the Standard reported.
Despite the studies being retracted, the committee ultimately concluded that there was not enough evidence to conclude there was fraud, and ended the probe into Stewart’s work.
Stewart, who is black, claimed that Pickett’s work to get the studies retracted effectively “lynched” him and his “academic character.”
The respite, however, was short-lived after a new allegation was brought in June 2020 regarding a sixth retracted study.
Although Pickett declined to comment on the latest investigation against his colleague, he claimed that researchers have an incentive to publish studies and face few repercussions.
“There’s a huge monetary incentive to falsify data and there’s no accountability,” he told the Standard.
“If you do this, the probability you’ll get caught is so, so low.”