Eric Stewart, 51, a now former criminology professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee, is now out of work due to “extreme negligence” in his research. According to Google Scholar, Stewart and his work were cited over 8,500 times by other researchers.
Now, the WEB DuBois fellow at the National Institute of Justice is out of a job on account of “extreme negligence and incompetence.”
Retraction Watch obtained the termination letter from the university, which said that due to Stewart’s conduct “decades of research” previously thought “to be at the forefront” of the field of criminology has “been shown to contain numerous erroneous and false narratives.”
In the July 13 letter that informed Stewart of his termination, FSU Provost James J. Clark wrote, “The details of problematic data management, false results, and the numerous publication retractions have negatively affected the discipline on a national level.”
Clark noted that Stewart’s actions had also impacted the recruitment of students and faculty and that now the university’s researchers are concerned that their papers will not be published in major journals writing in the termination latter, “The damage to the standing of the University and, in particular, the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice and its faculty approaches the catastrophic and may be unalterable.” Clark added, “I do not see how you can teach our students to be ethical researchers or how the results of future research projects conducted by you could be deemed as trustworthy adding that six of the studies had been retracted while his other work was “in doubt.”
Stewart, who was a vice president and fellow at the American Society of Criminology, which honored him as one of four highly distinguished criminologists in 2017, was fired after nearly 2 decades of his data was found to have “false results,” which included information used in his study in which he claimed that the history of lynchings made whites perceive blacks are criminals and that the issue was more prevalent among those who are politically conservative.
Stewart's studies in which he claimed that whites wanted longer sentences for Latinos and blacks had to be retracted. Stewart stated in the work “…that this effect will be greater among whites… where socioeconomic disadvantage and political conservatism are greater.”
A 2018 study which has now also been retracted suggested that because white Americans perceive Latinos and blacks as “criminal threats,” that perception could lead to “state-sponsored social control.”
Stewart claimed in a 2015 study which has now been retracted that Americans desired harsher sentences for Latinos because their numbers were increasing and they were becoming more successful economically. Stewart concluded that “Latino population growth and perceived Latino criminal and economic threat significantly predict punitive Latino sentiment.”
Stewart’s research also delved into the relationship between incarceration and divorce, street violence, the impact of tough neighborhoods on adolescents, whether street gardens reduce crime, and how race impacts student discipline in schools.
According to The New York Post, six of Stewart’s articles that had been published in top academic journals such as Criminology and Law and Society Review between 2003 and 2019 have now been fully retracted due to flawed data.
Stewart, who earned his PhD from Iowa State University in 2000, was exposed four years ago when his former graduate student Justin Pickett accused the former professor of meddling with sample sizes of research to prove his conclusions.
In 2011, the pair worked together in researching if the American public was demanding longer sentences for Hispanic and black criminals as their populations increased in the country, and though the paper reached that conclusion, Pickett stated the research proved otherwise and blew the whistle. An investigation began into Stewart in 2020 during which the former professor claimed he was the victim and that Pickett “…lynched me and my academic character.” Stewart has not been at his post since March, according to The Post.
According to Stewart’s resume, he has been granted over $3.5 million from organizations including taxpayer-funded entities such as the National Science Foundation which is part of the federal government, and the National Institute of Justice, which is operated by the Justice Department and Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice.
An arm of the National Institute of Health, The National Institute of Mental Health, funneled $3.2 million into research on how African Americans transition into adulthood, the research which Stewart supervised from 2007-2012 as co-principal investigator.
Stewart reported annual salary from FSU, a public university was $190,000, he served on the school’s diversity, promotion, and tenure committees and even as a member of FSU’s Academic Honor Policy Hearing Committee where he presided over decisions regarding students accused of academic dishonesty and cheating.
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