Perspectives on Politics Editor Jeffrey Isaac on why he opposes DA-RT but did not sign petition to delay it


by Jeffrey C. Isaac December 3, 2015 Uncategorized Leave a comment 772 Views


I have served as editor in chief of Perspectives on Politics since June 2009. I have also served as an ex-officio member of the APSA Council since that time. During this time I have worked full-time, with my staff and editorial board, to enhance the intellectual quality and editorial efficiency of Perspectives, and to advocate on behalf of the values that I associate with the journal whose care is in my charge—the values of a vigorous and engaged political science public sphere.

It is only because of my editorial responsibilities that I have come to be involved in the controversy over DA-RT.

I have opposed DA-RT since October 2014, when I sent an open letter to the leaders of the DA-RT initiative, who had assembled in Ann Arbor, MI and drafted a set of principles that later became the DA-RT principles adopted by some 25-plus political science journals.

My letter was deliberately an open letter, and I shared it widely, with my own editorial board, with APSA leaders, and with a great many friends and colleagues who share my value commitments. Some, and perhaps many, of those colleagues who have called for the DA-RT delay first learned about the Ann Arbor meeting, and the DA-RT journal cartel that was taking shape, from my open letter. Since that time many colleagues have shared ideas about the meaning of DA-RT and the ways to best express concerns about it. It was the efforts of some of these colleagues to engage APSA leaders in reasoned discussion that led to a private meeting, in San Francisco, between APSA leaders and DA-RT supporters and critics. This was a productive meeting of fine scholars who are also good and well-intentioned individuals. DA-RT critics expressed their concerns. DA-RT proponents genuinely listened and engaged the concerns. The APSA leaders were pressed by a number of Council members, myself included, to clarify the precise relationship between DA-RT and APSA. It was noted that APSA staff had supported the Ann Arbor meeting, and that the APSA website had for many months featured only pro-DA-RT materials. The question was pressed: when exactly had APSA officially endorsed DA-RT? The answer was clear: APSA had never officially endorsed DA-RT. In 2012 the APSA Council had voted to approve some general professional ethics principles about the responsibilities of scholars to be honest and transparent. But these were general ethical ideas, premised on voluntary acceptance by individual scholars. The Council had never deliberated about “DA-RT,” adopted specific DA-RT principles, or endorsed changes in any journal policies on the basis of DA-RT principles.

At the San Francisco meeting these things were clarified in private conversation.

Many of us left the meeting confident about two things: (1) productive dialogue between qualitative research leaders and DA-RT proponents and affiliated journals would continue, and (2) APSA would clarify, publicly, that DA-RT was an initiative undertaken by many fine disciplinary leaders and journal editors, but it was not an APSA initiative, and APSA would promote a serious dialogue among its members about whether APSA should have an official position on DA-RT.

Weeks and months went by. No further clarification was offered.

During this time a distinguished group of our colleagues organized a letter that eventually went viral as a petition, calling for delay and further deliberation about DA-RT before any changes in editorial policies at major journals were implemented.

Continues on The Plot


Piscopo expresses concerns, under DA-RT, about conducting elite interviews and the widening gulf between the “haves” and the “have-nots”

In this post, Jennifer Piscopo (Occidental College) writes about how a transparency appendix required under DA-RT could  “jeopardize carefully-cultivated networks of trust” needed to gain elite interviews, the “near impossiblity” of replication (since ” elites’ willingness to disclose sensitive information depends on everything from the researcher’s reputation to the phases of the moon”), and her fear about the implications for inequality in the profession (“the best publication opportunities will continue to accrue to highly-resourced researchers, who can rely on teams of graduate students and other paid assistants to help them create the appendices necessary to meet access, transparency, and replicability standards”).