Academics at the University of Minnesota have been forced to retract a “false” research paper about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) after the paper’s authors admitted that they had unintentionally “mischaracterized the authenticity of experiences represented.”
The research paper was titled “Transactional and transformative diversity, equity, and inclusion activities in health services research departments” — and it supposedly detailed “structural racism” at the University of Minnesota.
It was originally published in the Journal of Health Services Research, and was written by senior lecturer Stuart Grande, associate professor Janette Dill and research scientist Tongtan Chantarat — all of whom are University of Minnesota employees with doctoral degrees.
The paper was retracted because the researchers’ claims were “inaccurate, misleading, or false,” according to the note addressing the article’s retraction.
Univ. of Minnesota academics, Stuart Grande, a senior lecturer, Janette Dill, an associate professor, and Tongtan Chantarat, a research scientist, were forced to retract an article they wrote about "structural racism" at the institution because its claims were "inaccurate,…
— Eddie Tarazona (@EddieTarazonaFL) April 24, 2023
Retraction Watch, a blog that reports on retracted scientific papers, was the first to report on the research paper being removed almost three months after it was initially published.
“The article details the DEI-related activities within the school’s Division of Health Policy and Management that were implemented from 2020 onwards amid calls for racial equity. (Minneapolis, where the university’s main campus is based, was the site of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020.) They label some efforts as ‘performative’, but go on to outline hopes for ‘transformative change’ in the division – referring to attempts to build trust and relationships with students and faculty belonging to racial and ethnic minority groups,” the Retraction Watch blog reported.
“The article was a response to an earlier paper by Chantarat that surveyed health services researchers in the United States and found more than half did not believe their colleagues reflected the diversity of the communities affected by their research. Of the participants who said that their institutions had DEI initiatives, almost 40% described them as ‘tokenistic,’ according to the study,” the blog post continued.
The researchers claimed in their paper that the University of Minnesota was not serious about DEI.
“Performative DEI work is identified as planning activities, committee work, task force initiatives that are not backed by meaningful actions,” the paper claimed. “Many of these activities are disingenuous, such as … website placement of photos of racialized faculty, students, or staff, or sweeping claims about commitment to racial justice.”
In their research for the paper, the authors reportedly interviewed staff and students — some of whom said that they were tired of DEI initiatives, while others claimed that racism was widespread at the university.
“This communication provided specific experiences of racist behaviors by faculty, staff, and students, and widespread systemic and structural racism within our institution,” the research paper claimed. “Structural racism is structuring opportunity and assigning value within an institution based on race, unfairly disadvantaging some individuals and groups while advantaging others.”
According to Retraction Watch’s blog post on the paper, “The authors specifically refer to the personal experiences of ‘one Black faculty member and one Native American faculty member [who were] overwhelmed with advising and mentoring responsibilities, in addition to teaching much of the content in the Division on structural racism.’”
After the paper was retracted, a note was added to explain what had happened.
“The above article… has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Austin B. Frakt, the Health Research and Education Trust, and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.,” the note read. “The retraction has been agreed following concerns raised by the authors following publication that their characterization of specific data (personal narratives and experiences) was either inaccurate, misleading, or false. The final submitted manuscript unintentionally contained content that mischaracterized the authenticity of experiences represented, and the authors have requested a retraction.”