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Former Ohio State doctoral candidate has degree revoked

A former Ohio State doctoral candidate, Jodi Whitaker, whose research was found to have inconsistencies in the variables data she published in a scientific journal, had her degree revoked Friday by the Board of Trustees.

Whitaker conducted research on first-person shooter video games and their effects on real-life marksmanship with Brad Bushman, a communication professor.  

The two researchers who discovered the inconsistencies are Malte Elson, a postdoctoral researcher at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, and Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University.

Throughout the investigation and retraction process, our goals have always been to correct the scientific record. We are deeply saddened to hear that this might lead to the end of a fellow scientist’s career,” Elson and Markey said in a joint statement.

Elson said he thinks Whitaker is taking too much of the blame.

“There were two authors on the problematic “Boom, Headshot!” study. That the female junior researcher is found culpable for those problems while the male, senior researcher is not, seems questionable,” Elson said.

Despite the Board of Trustees’ decision to revoke Whitaker’s degree, Bushman remains in good standing with the university.

“Brad Bushman is a professor of communication in good standing at Ohio State. In the case of the retracted 2014 study the university determined that there was no evidence that Bushman participated in, or was aware of, inappropriate data manipulation,” Ohio State spokesperson Ben Johnson said in an email. “Therefore, the university found that the allegations brought against Bushman did not have sufficient substance to warrant an investigation and they were dismissed.”

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