In a new post on The Plot, Isaac asks: “why have so many of us bought into the idea that right now data access and research transparency –a “problem” constructed by DA-RT– is the most pressing challenge facing political science publishing and indeed, in terms of time and energy, the most pressing challenge facing political science?” He questions why we are talking about DA-RT at all, when we could be talking about other more important matters facing social science and the world.
In a new post, APSR editors respond to a set of questions about how they expect to apply standards of research transparency and data access in cases involving IRB requirements for human subject protection, articles based on archival material, ethnography, and other qualitative evidence, and other circumstances.
Thanks for including me (along with David and Rodney) in this exchange of letters; I appreciate being kept informed about this fascinating and important set of conversations. I am writing to add a little information to that which is included in them already.
On forums: The QMMR section is developing a procedure for deliberation over the next few months; the letter below provides a detailed description and invitation to participate. There is also a more informal and less structured invitation for comments and discussion posted on PSNow, under the heading “Updated Invitation for Deliberation about Research Transparency and Interpretability” (it includes a link to the QMMR process and other useful links). As I see it, these are complementary forums — roughly speaking, one emphasizes breadth and ease of entry, and the other emphasizes depth and more consistent engagement. Let’s use both, as well as any other forums that other groups might establish.
On additional information: the “Bing Powell letter,” also described below, is now posted on PSNow, under the heading “Letter from distinguished political scientists urging nuanced journal interpretation of JETS policy guidelines.” Please note that in addition to the sections quoted by the letter writers below, a key paragraph reads:
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First, I want to thank you for the time and care with which you have crafted this letter. I know how much time it takes to do this kind of thing and appreciate your devotion to an important issue. Second, I agree with your views and wish to second the response as you describe it by Bingham Powell about the JETS statement. Third, I encourage the APSA Council at its next meeting to re-open this issue and to consider fully the kinds of considerations raised by Powell, especially as concerns the tension between ethics, confidentiality and privacy of subjects on the one hand and transparency on the other. I will copy Rodney, Jennifer and David so they can respond as they wish but are included in the conversation.
I was one of the many people who worked to get the Qualitative methods set up, am a member and a recipient of the Sartori prize in 2013. I use qualitative methods extensively in my own work and teaching. I try to publish my data, and have been fortunate enough that the presses I work with have been willing to publish these data in my books, even when doing so increased the number of pages in books that presses would much prefer be shorter. I have placed many of my data — in the form of complete but edited interviews– on line at the UCI Ethics Center. I want to make these data available to as many scholars as possible both because I believe in openness and transparency and because I know that later scholars, using more sophisticated techniques than those available to me, will have the opportunity to employ these different techniques using my data, many of which are in the form of interviews with people now dead. There findings may well contradict mine or add to earlier findings in important ways, so sharing data is an important part of science. All of which is to say that I believe in data transparency and try to act on that principle as much as possible.
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On the PSNow website, a group of 20 past, present, and future APSA presidents have posted a letter urging journal editors who have signed on to JETS to be cautious in their interpretation of the policies.
“The letter expresses concern about the language in the JETS statement and asks journal editors to clarify how their journals will interpret these policies, so that they promote the goals of data access and research transparency while recognizing the legitimate concerns of scholars whose work includes the creation of original data sets, whose work is partly or wholly qualitative or interpretive, or whose work requires protecting the rights and well-being of human subjects.”
The full post can be found here.
Dear signer of the letter to journal editors:
We are writing to you as one of the scholars who signed the letter of November 12, 2015 to 27 journal editors requesting a delay in the implementation of the data access and research transparency principles as instantiated in what is now called the “Journal Editors Transparency Statement”(JETS, earlier called the “DA-RT Statement”) of October 2014. Today we write to make a major request and provide an update on events since you signed that letter (which we call the “delay” letter).
The request is that you participate in two ways in the deliberative process being initiated by the Qualitative and Multi-Method Research (QMMR) section of the APSR. This process, organized by Tim Büthe and Alan Jacobs, is named “Qualitative Transparency Deliberations” (QTD) and is presented in the proposal attached to this email. It is designed to reach out widely to the membership of the APSA for input on the issue of transparency and the particular vehicles that might or might not be useful in promoting that goal.
We see the QMMR process as taking as its point of departure a consideration of the first principles of transparency in scholarship, not the DA-RT/JET Statement, which was based on a particular and limited interpretation of those principles. Given this starting point, some people who signed our earlier letter are likely to argue that those first principles are already adequately incorporated in present scholarly practices. This position must be represented in the QDR deliberations.
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On the PSNow website, APSA is calling for questions, observations, experiences, and proposals in the hopes of fostering conversation on research transparency and interpretability, and how it should or should not be implemented.
Specific categories include:
- Confidentiality and anonymity
- Cost in time or money
- Transparency or interpretability in archival work
- Transparency in big data
- Transparency or interpretability in field work
- Relevance for political theory or political philosophy
- Embargos on making public new research materials
- Editors’ decision-making process
- Appeals from editors’ decisions
- Consistency across journals
In a new report published on the Monkey Cage, Elizabeth Martin and Susan Peterson examine who shares (what kind of) data, using the “2014 Teaching, Research and International Policy (TRIP) survey of 1,615 international relations (IR) scholars to explore views on data sharing in the discipline.”
Martin and Peterson find “that the discipline’s current divide is not between those scholars who primarily use statistical methods and those who chiefly employ qualitative approaches. Rather, IR scholars—regardless of whether they consider themselves to be primarily quantitative or qualitative researchers—are less likely to share their qualitative data than they are to share their quantitative results.”
In addition, the authors find that: “Sixty-one percent of respondents who shared qualitative data and 56 percent of respondents who shared quantitative data indicated that their sharing included making “ad hoc arrangements with other scholars.” Even quantitatively oriented scholars were more likely to informally share data with other scholars than to make it publicly available through a journal.”
The authors argue that their “findings do not speak directly to the DA-RT debate, but they do suggest that opposition to the new requirement that all data be made available online should not be dismissed as simply qualitative scholars’ resistance to increased transparency.”
Read the whole report here.