ASN issues a statement of concern regarding DA-RT

From ASN website:

The Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) raises concerns regarding the Data Access and ResearchTransperancy Initiative originating within the American Political Science Association (APSA).

The Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) has recently learned of the DA-RT discussions originating within the American Political Science Association (APSA). We are concerned that a set of stipulations regarding research signed by 27 journals (JETS) was enacted on January 15th 2016 when so few of those who will be affected by these stipulations are aware of their requirements. We share the concerns outlined by the 1,173 petition signatories to delay DA-RT implementation to more fully consider its implications for a broad range of research.

The DA-RT stipulations establish conditions in which editors and reviewers can request that materials produced in the course of research should be made available on a public domain website. These materials can include databases but also interview transcripts, recordings, and fieldnotes. We understand that exemptions can be requested from these requirements. However, we remain concerned that there is not sufficient clarity in the policies as outlined to protect from the potential harms to sources and researchers in the conduct of research, as well as to long-term implications of harm for the conduct of research on sensitive topics. Nor do we find IRB / ethics board statements to be sufficient protection, given the diversity of access to such protections for our members across the globe. We note many of the concerns DA-RT raises for research on violence and autocratic regimes as well as those using qualitative approaches, as outlined in the APSA Qualitative and Multi-Methods Research newsletter in 2015 as well as the APSA Comparative Politics Newsletter in Spring 2016. As researchers on sensitive topics, we share many of these concerns in our own work. We are particularly disturbed that the serious problems outlined by researchers in these forums have not yet produced changes to the policy appropriate to the potential harms.

We urgently request a re-thinking of the DA-RT stipulations to incorporate better policies to address concerns of researchers working on sensitive topics, including those using qualitative and historical research.

The ASN Board of Directors and the Advisory Board

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Conference on Fieldwork to Analyze Challenges of Transparency in Complicated Circumstances

The conference on “Conducting Fieldwork under Complicated Circumstance,” organized by two graduate students at the University of New Mexico (Anna Calasanti and Fiorella Vera-Adrianzénwill involve faculty, students, and other practitioners in two days of dialogue about strategies and techniques to manage ethical, logistical, and personal security issues during fieldwork. Check out the conference website here. Topics to be discussed include:

 

Ethical

  • Risk of revictimization/ retraumatization of research participants
  • Instrumentalization of research participants
  • Externalities (i.e. risks and benefits) of participation in fieldwork activities
  • Disruption or transgression/violation of cultural norms
  • Pros and cons of cultural embedding, building trust and personal relationships with participants
  • Giving back to the community: why and how should we give back to the community? What are some of the constraints, benefits and risks when doing so? What are some appropriate ways to do it?
  • Mediator role among parties that are in conflict in the field: Shuttle diplomacy
  • Intervening to help research participants (directly or indirectly)
  • Confidentiality and privacy of research participants’ responses: how to secure this at all times, especially when methods imply a bigger audience (i.e. focus groups)? Are there any cases in which these principles can be overlooked? What should be done under those circumstances?
  • DA-RT (Data Access and Research Transparency): pros and cons
  • Identity of the researcher
  • Perceptions about researcher: What kind of impression do we give social actors about us, as researchers, as representatives of academic institutions or of disciplinary fields?

Logistical / Practical

  • Developing efficient and realistic itineraries/ traveling plans
  • Traveling across mountainous terrain, difficult geographical features, conflict zones
  • Organization of collected data; in particular qualitative data
  • Collection and processing/analysis of data while in the field: sequential or parallel tasks?
  • Measures to safely store collected data
  • Reporting to and communicating with advisors, mentors, peers
  • Cost-effective and safe plans for lodging and meals
  • Language and cultural barriers

Personal/Security

  • Physical safety/health: risk factors and protective/preventive measures
  • Emotional/psychological safety/health: risk factors and protective/preventive measures
  • Dealing with secondary trauma
  • Safety of informants and research assistants

 

Open letter to British Medical Journal on need to publish more qualitative research

Seventy-six scholars pen an open letter to the British Medical Journal arguing that papers based on qualitative data should not be considered “low priority,” as is common practice across medical journals. “Few research topics in clinical decision making and patient care can be sufficiently understood through quantitative research alone.” Therefore, the BMJ should “develop and publish a formal policy on qualitative and mixed method research…[which] should include appropriate and explicit criteria for judging the relevance of submissions.” They conclude, “We believe it is time for a prospective study to assess whether the BMJ can come to value and be proud of qualitative research as part of its mission to lead the debate on health, inform clinical decision making, and improve outcomes for patients.”

New essay by Jeff Isaac asks: Is more deliberation about DA-RT a good thing?

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.