Florida State University (FSU) criminology professor Eric Stewart has left his position after accusations of falsifying data in multiple research studies focused on race and the criminal justice system. A Fellow of the American Society of Criminology, Stewart’s research was instrumental in shaping FSU’s top-ranked criminology department.
The trouble began in 2019 when Professor Justin Pickett of the University of Albany accused Stewart of falsifying data in a co-authored study. The paper claimed that growing populations of black and Hispanic Americans correlated with an increased public desire for discriminatory sentences. Pickett, however, later discovered that the sample size had inexplicably grown from 500 to over 1,000, and the number of counties polled had dropped from 326 to 91, altering the data to the point of mathematical impossibility.
Florida State University professor leaves job after accusations of faking race data, had 6 studies retracted – TheBlaze https://t.co/5r5FdXyM0t
— Jim (@DAYUNITEDSTATES) April 10, 2023
Four additional studies authored by Stewart, published between 2006 and 2015, were subsequently retracted. FSU initially conducted an inquiry, but two of the three members on the committee had co-authored studies with Stewart, violating the university’s conflict of interest policy. The inquiry found insufficient evidence to warrant a full investigation, and the case was closed.
In June 2020, a sixth study was retracted, and a new inquiry was launched. Stewart’s sudden departure in March 2023 suggests the investigation may have found sufficient evidence of fraud to justify his termination. Stewart earned nearly $190,000 per year in his position at FSU. The university has declined to comment on the situation, and Stewart was unreachable.
Though Pickett declined to discuss the investigation directly, he spoke to The Florida Standard about the broader issue of academic fraud. According to Pickett, there is a “huge monetary incentive to falsify data” and a lack of accountability in the research community. He cited a statistic stating that 1 in 50 scientists admitted to faking data and warned of the inherent risk in the “publish or perish” mentality.
The allegations against Stewart and the subsequent investigations raise concerns about research integrity in the academic community, particularly in social sciences. While universities strive for groundbreaking discoveries, the pressure to publish and the lack of oversight can create a breeding ground for falsified data and misconduct.
In the age of divisive politics and the progressive political fight against racism, it is essential to ensure that research is honest, accurate, and unbiased. Cases like Stewart’s serve as a reminder of the need for increased scrutiny and transparency in academia.