Assistant Professor Has PHD Revoked Over Flawed Video Game Study

Published: August 29, 2017 9:20 AM /


Resident Evil 4 Gunshot

Jodi Whitaker, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, has had her Ph.D. revoked by Ohio State University after publishing a flawed video game study as reported by Destructoid.

The original video game study was titled Boom, Headshot!?: Effect of Video Game Play and Controller Type on Firing Aim and Accuracy and published in Communication Research online in 2012 and in print in 2014. It involved 151 college students who answered a questionnaire and were then given the choice of playing Resident Evil 4, a shooting range game in Wii Play, or Super Mario Galaxy. Players of the first two games were given either a regular controller or one shaped like a firearm. After playing the games, participants were issued an airsoft pistol (following instruction on proper usage) and fired 16 pellets at a target 20 feet (6.09 meters) away. The study concluded that participants who had used a gun controller aimed (and landed) more headshots as compared to other groups.

This particular video game study was retracted by Communication Research following inquiries from  Dr. Markey from Villanova U and Dr. Elson from Ruhr U Bochum:

A Committee of Initial Inquiry at Ohio State University recommended retracting this article after being alerted to irregularities in some variables of the data set by Drs. Markey and Elson in January 2015. Unfortunately, the values of the questioned variables could not be confirmed because the original research records were unavailable. In 2016, Drs. Markey and Elson sent their report to Dr. Gibbs, one of the editors of Communication Research, who decided that a retraction was warranted. A replication of the study by Dr. Bushman is in review.
The revocation of Assistant Professor Whitaker's Ph.D. was noted by Ohio State University student newspaper The Lantern as having taken place as part of a recent meeting of The Ohio State Board of Trustees.

The co-author of the paper, Ohio State University employee and Assistant Professor Whitaker's Ph.D. supervisor Brad Bushman. was cleared of any wrongdoing by the university. However, two separate studies (both involving Professor Bushman in some capacity) relating to video games & violence were retracted in April of this year following problems with the methodology and availability of original data.

What do you think of Assistant Professor Jodi Whitaker having her Ph.D. revoked following the retraction of a flawed study she co-authored? Have you seen a video game study regarding video game violence that has held up to scrutiny? How do you think Jack Thompson feels about this? Let us know in the comments below!

Have a tip, or want to point out something we missed? Leave a Comment or e-mail us at

A photograph of TechRaptor Senior Writer Robert N. Adams.
| Senior Writer

One of my earliest memories is playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I… More about Robert N