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Domestic violence study suspended by UNSW for breach of ethics

An online ‘domestic violence study’ has been ordered offline by the University of NSW Human Research Ethics Committee.

Flyers published by the survey organisers have been ordered destroyed.

The study, being conducted by the Gendered Violence Research Network, White Ribbon Australia and Youth Action NSW, was found by the Ethics Committee to have breached the University’s code of ethics.

The decision comes after a national coalition of men’s health advocates made a formal complaint to the University claiming the survey was gender-biased, poorly formulated and misleading. They argued it could not achieve its stated aims and any consequent findings would be unreliable and likely to mislead the public.

Chair of the Ethics Committee, Professor Heather Worth, found that a quote on the original flyers claiming that “childhood exposure to intimate violence increased the likelihood of intergeneration violence particularly amongst boys” was incorrect. The ethics committee has ordered that the flyers be destroyed and replaced by a new flyer that has correct information, including any quotes.

Professor Worth also found that the participants’ information sheet referred to by the survey was not accessible as claimed. The Ethics Committee has instructed that the survey be suspended until the link is in place.

Men’s Health Australia spokesman Greg Andresen said, “We congratulate the University for investigating our complaint so speedily and acting upon these ethical breaches. It is essential that domestic violence research, especially that involving young people, is conducted properly.”

“The incorrect statement in question was lifted directly from current White Ribbon ‘Fact Sheets’ that haven’t been corrected. The University’s investigation determined that some of the methodological issues raised in our complaint would be dealt with in peer review of the findings when the authors submit publications for review. We trust that White Ribbon Australia plans to subject this study to the rigours of the peer review process prior to publishing any reports on its website. It is regretfully common that much gendered violence ‘research’ makes it into the public domain without going anywhere near peer review challenge,” said Mr Andresen.

Media contact:

Greg Andresen
Editor, Men’s Health Australia
Mobile 0403 813 925

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Reader Comments (3)

Well done Greg. You do amazing work. Tackling 'misandric' or 'misandrous' bias from an ethical standpoint is such an excellent (and possibly novel) way to draw attention to its pervasive presence within academia. Probably would not work for political or corporate misandry though.

You are probably already aware that there is not a widely recognised male equivalent adjective that corresponds to 'misogynous' or 'misogynistic'. Neither the Microsoft speller nor WordWeb recognise the male equivalents. Wiktionery does. My copy of Macquarie dictionary does not. Thus in the paragraph above I used these two ‘new’ words to describe a form of bias that is at least demeaning of maleness or, at an extreme, a hatred of men.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Millicer

This sort of dishonesty is not new.

A meta analysis of DV studies (approx 200 over 30 + years) by Straus (Partner Abuse, Volume 1, Number 3, 2010) will really open your eyes to how widespread this sort of dishonesty is and how long it has been going on for.

Anyway here is a nice example from p340:

Pre-publication the marital violence index US in 1985 showed wife to husband violence at 12.1 percent, and 4.4 percent was severe violence.

Husband to wife violence was actually slightly less at 11.3 overall violence and 3.0 severe violence.

However, the published material to the public did not contain any reference to wife to husband violence at all.

April 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterscott

Thank you for this exposure - well done. Misinformation and promotion of females as eternal victims is alive and well all around us. The concern for me is just how prevalent it is in Australian Edcation Departments and Teachers' Unions. The Australian Education Union - Federal and States are still persistantly female biased and proudly support the misconception of male advantage and female disadvantage. I have written to the SA Education Union a number of times commenting on their Women's Focus column which can at times present misleading statements - statements which present women and girls as owners of disadvantage. Their Journal never contains copy about men or boy's issues. When I voiced this concern, the comment was basically their Union membership was 70 per cent female.

May 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

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