Response: APSA leadership risks pre-empting necessary deliberation

It is regrettable that APSA leadership issued a statement endorsing DA-RT at a time when a broad and very constructive discipline-wide conversation is only now beginning. We think this is premature and, as such, risks preempting rather than facilitating the kind of “deliberation, mutual trust and shared accommodation” that the presidents want to promote.

We do not see much indication in this statement that the presidents have engaged the legitimate concerns raised (e.g., in the thoughtful QMMR newsletter or in the recent petition) by our colleagues who confront very real conundrums in reconciling DA-RT transparency standards with ethical commitments to the protection of human subjects, the ability to publish out of original data sets without being required to share them too early, the logistical burden placed particularly on young scholars and by scholars at non-elite universities, and other concerns. Instead, we note with disappointment that the justification offered for embracing DA-RT relies almost exclusively on a few references to egregious cases of flagrant ethics violations that all of us can of course agree are to be avoided and that in any event are well covered by the existing Ethics guidelines. If there is one thing that the discussion of DA-RT has already made very clear, it is that the issues are a great deal more nuanced and complex than that.

Fortunately, there is a substantive on-going process to deliberate on these issues, investigating what the guidelines should be for issues such as the incentives for young scholars to create their own datasets, and the kinds of research materials, if any, that scholars engaged in immersive research may be required to deposit.

Our approach to this issue is thus different from that of the presidents. Rather than take sides in a process that is underway, we reiterate our request that the journals hold off until some of these issues can be deliberated more adequately in the profession. The Qualitative and Multi-Method Research organized section is launching a wide-ranging and structured deliberation within the profession and we look forward to discussing the results at the next annual meeting. We believe that any significant implementation before such issues have been more fully deliberated is premature and potentially divisive.

Nancy Hirschmann, Mala Htun, Jane Mansbridge, Kathleen Thelen, Lisa Wedeen, and Elisabeth Wood

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