Perspectives on Politics editor-in-chief Jeffrey C. Isaac and managing editor James Moskowitz share their journal’s policy, established in 2009, including the specific instructions they provide to contributing authors, as well as the guiding principles that inform their approach as journal editors. The goal of the guidelines is to “facilitate the kind of publicity that is at the heart of scholarly communication.” Isaac and Moskowitz emphasize: “Perspectives has long been committed to the highest standards of general research transparency.” Read their full comments and access the supplementary material here.
I’m seeing at least two issues in this thread that I would like to highlight.
The first is that many historians and historical social scientists, including purely narrative or “qualitative” scholars, already observe an ethic of transparency and replicability in their work. By following the citations from footnotes to exact archival locations, it is possible in many, many cases to find the exact document or material object that a scholar was interpreting and analyzing. This is a point that has been missing in much of the debate. Yes, replication of historical work is costly, and yes that process could be improved, but it is frequently done and historical social scientists were, in many respects, well ahead of their peers in this endeavor. I say this as a card-carrying political scientist whose work includes a heavy dose of quantitative and rather technical work.
The second is that [the] point about the costs of digitization are more generalizable. We should always be thinking about who bears the costs of our research policies, and I fear that a too-stringent policy on replication will place the burdens upon younger scholars whose work is often conducted in farflung archives where less material has been digitized. The worry I’ve heard in some circles is that these policies will eventually lead to more and more work being done in a laboratory environment, where the laboratories are housed at wealthier institutions that can foot or subsidize the bill of replication costs. I doubt that process is all-converging and teleological, but I do fear that it will overly standardize the research process.
I think a flexible transparency and replication policy is a good idea. But I worry about a policy that imposes its greatest proportional costs upon younger scholars who are most in need of being able to take risks, which is to say, not those of us who already have tenure and who sit on editorial boards.
Dan Carpenter (Harvard University)
Rick Wilson blogs about his thoughts on DA-RT, and brings attention to Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) guidelines. He writes: “Personally, I am inclined to sign the DA-RT delay petition because DA-RT does not go far enough.” But he finds it “puzzling that there is resistance to making it clear how one reaches a conclusion.” To him, “All good science is about elucidating the process by which one reaches a conclusion.” You can view his full blog post here.
“All of these people trusted me with personal stories…. Deserving this trust called for great sympathy, sensitivity and – above all – going the extra mile to protect the speaker’s integrity and privacy.”
In this short post, Kristin Monroe argues that data access requirements must be flexible: ethical and privacy concerns may demand modification of testimony or destruction of data.