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UA assistant professor in communication department loses Ph.D. by vote of Ohio State University board

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

Jodi Whitaker, assistant professor in the UA Communication Department, had her Ph.D. revoked by the Ohio State University Board of Trustees.

An assistant professor in the University of Arizona Department of Communication had her Ph.D revoked by the Ohio State Board of Trustees due to irregularities in research submitted to a scientific journal in 2012.

Jodi Whitaker, an instructor of Mass Media and its Effects, had her doctoral degree in Mass Media and Communication revoked Friday. The Daily Wildcat was able to confirm Whitaker was present for her scheduled classes this week.

Attempts to reach Whitaker were unsuccessful. 

According to an article by Ohio State's student publication The Lantern, Whitaker co-authored on a study submitted to the journal Communication Research, titled "Boom, Headshot!," which focused on first-shooter person video games and their purported effect on marksmanship.

Nearly two years after it was first published, two outside scientists called the study into question. Patrick Markey, one of the scientists who called attention to the study's data gathering, pointed out the main problem with the study.

“We discovered two different data files between which the codes for variables were altered,” Markey said in a January email to The Lantern. “These alterations occurred in a manner which supported the original study’s hypotheses. Additionally, the authors of the original study were unable to provide the raw data in order to confirm which data file was correct.”

After attempting to replicate the study, Markey and his colleague brought the discrepancies to OSU, and the university recommended Communication Research retract the study.

The other co-author on the study, Brad Bushman, a communication professor at Ohio State, is still currently employed by the university as of Friday, according to an email sent from OSU's media spokesperson Ben Johnson.

“Brad Bushman is a professor of communication in good standing at Ohio State," Johnson wrote in the email. "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."

In reference to Whitaker, Johnson citseed federal student protections, and would not speak about her cases specifics. 

"In general, the Committee on Academic Misconduct investigates allegations of academic misconduct," Johnson wrote in an email. "That committee can recommend to the executive vice president and provost that a degree be revoked," 

When reached for comment, Chris Segrin, chair of UA's Department of Communication, said he was on sabbatical and could not speak to the issue.

Editor’s Note: Daily Wildcat Editor-in-Chief Chastity Laskey, a senior double-majoring in journalism and communication, is enrolled in one of Whitaker’s Fall 2017 courses. Therefore, Laskey has given complete decision-making authority over coverage of this story and any follow-up to managing editor Courtney Talak.


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