The "Beauty study": Follow-up and closure

Published: 2023-06-14

During the fall of 2022 the media coverage of a process surrounding a research study done at Department of Economics at LUSEM was intense. The study about grading, beauty and discrimination was conducted by researcher Adrian Mehic. Even though the study already was peer reviewed, published in a well-regarded research journal and approved by senior researchers, it was accused of having been carried out in an incorrect manner. The last remaining review is now complete and, just like after the first review, the study is cleared of all charges.

Already in February 2023 we could announce that the so called "Beauty and grade study" by, at the time, PhD student Adrian Mehic at LUSEM (who in May completed his doctoral studies), reported to The Ethics Review Appeals Board, was withdrawn from further processing. However, there still remained a review to be finished in the Swedish National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct. Now, in June 2023, this board also frees the study from all previous charges. An expert for the board has concluded that no mistakes have been made regarding, for example, the issue of consent, dissemination of information, respect for research subjects and data handling. All this together thus concludes that the research study by Adrian Mehic was done in a completely correct way.

Following up and closing the case one wants to know how Adrian feels when it's finally over.

Your study that was subject to review is now acquitted in both review boards and thus completely cleared of previous charges. Looking back, how do you feel about all this?

"Of course, it is not optimal to be under investigation. But I have had great support from my colleagues at the department, and to be fair, the outcome was expected. At the same time, I think that both I and the other researchers at the department, and even the general public, have learnt a lot about research ethics and GDPR during this process. This will probably be useful for the future."

Has this process affected your research in any way?

"Not really, except that it has taken a lot of time, which could have been spent on more meaningful activities. Such as research!"

You are starting a new position at the Institute of Economic research in Stockholm this fall, what do you think the future will bring in terms of challenges and knowledge?

"I hope that it will be exciting! I have several research projects that I am working on at the moment, so I look forward to continuing with those, and hopefully get some new inspiration."

Adrian Mehic will continue to be part of LUSEM and in parallel with the job in Stockholm teach to some extent at our school.