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Reusing Research

Monday, August 30, 2021

Reusing Research

The Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the Rockefeller Institute of Government published a policy brief promising Policy Solutions to Address Mass Shootings.” The Rockefeller Institute is a think tank within the State University of New York system and founded by the governors of northeastern states to offset the supposed lack of research from federal agencies. In practice, the Consortium has provided rudimentary original analysis” and repackaged existing research largely funded by…federal agencies.

The Policy Solutions to Address Mass Shootings” brief was written by Michael Rocque, Grant Duwe, Michael Siegel, James Alan Fox, Max Goder-Reiser, and Emma E. Fridel. It draws exclusively upon a paper written by Rocque, Duwe, Siegel, Fox, and Goder-Reiser with funding provided by the National Institute of Justice. Fridel joined the original papers authors to write the policy brief outlining the findings from the original paper in a slick format. 

That original paper includes this as the first line in the policy and research implications” in the conclusion section: Because of the cross-sectional nature of this study, we cannot definitively conclude that implementing a specific law would lead to a change in the incidence or severity of mass public shootings.” The Consortium policy brief is not quite as circumspect, instead presenting the key findings of the original paper alongside imaginative, but not necessarily realistic, rationale for the findings.

Other research cited in the policy brief included the embarrassing and negligent misuse of data for an analysis” of gun laws and another that seemingly contradicts the claims in the research brief. The author of the second example, Dr. Emma Fridel, is a co-author of the research brief.

The most important note in the research brief is presented in the top right corner of page two: This project was supported by grant #2018-75-CX-0025, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice.”

Similar disclaimers appear on most of the research presented on the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium website. The DOJ, the CDC, and the NIH all funded published research that is now available on the website of a Research Consortium supposedly founded because such research was not federally funded. Maybe the governors of northeast states did not think to check if the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of NIH, had funded any research related to gun policy (it has, and its available on the Research Consortium website) before launching the Consortium.

Who would?

Then again, maybe it was never truly about research. Maybe its about the optics of reposting and repackaging research and camouflaging the anti-gun wish list as credible. That seems more likely.

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