Bioethics Blogs

University of Queensland Punishes Researchers, Won’t Say Why

The University of Queensland demoted a professor and blocked him and another researcher from publishing findings, based on charges that they had not obtained necessary ethics clearances. But the university will not explain its conduct.

[Jorge Branco. “UQ Suppressed Bus Racism Study: Academics.” Brisbane Times, February 27, 2015. Thanks to Michelle Meyer for tweeting this to my attention.]

A Study of Racial Discrimination

The Brisbane Times explains the initial study:

In 2013, Dr Redzo Mujcic and Professor Paul Frijters, from the university’s School of Economics, published an early working paper finding strong evidence of discrimination against black-skinned people on Brisbane buses.

Their study, inspired by US civil rights figure Rosa Parks’ experience of racial discrimination on a bus, saw 29 testers from different gender and ethnic groups asking bus drivers to let them on for free because their Go Cards were empty.

The researchers found white testers were twice as likely to be given a free ride than black testers (72% to 36%), among a host of other findings relating to group theory.

They proposed this was due to people being more likely to discriminate against those who were less like them, or not in their “in-group”.

As Ian Ayres explains in the New York Times, “This elegant experiment follows in a tradition of audit testing, in which social scientists have sent testers of different races to, for example, bargain over the price of new cars or old baseball cards. But the Australian study is the first, to my knowledge, to focus on discretionary accommodations.”

Frijters had gained approval by the the university’s department of economics.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.