As a follow-up to the Data Access and Research Transparency (DA-RT) initiative which has generated quite a bit of controversy among political scientists, there is now a website for people to deliberate the issue. The site has been up for awhile, but is important for those who want to have a voice in the deliberations to participate. My DA-RT petition signing statement urged such deliberations, so please go have a look. Today, if possible, if your Sunday plans allow it.
In reading the forum postings, I can’t help but be discouraged by a lot of what I see. My position on the DA-RT policy has evolved towards opposing any kind of disciplinary-wide policy on how to present evidence. There is no policy that could be adopted that will replace discipline-wide norms of honesty, self-criticism, and openness to debate. But, I don’t see how a journal transparency policy will cause people to be skeptical of certain types of evidence. I already live in a world in which those people exist, and there are patterns across journals. I also already live in a world where things like the references section ought to suffice for most questions about evidence[*], and in which referees already continually demand clarity about how inferences are made, how evidence was gathered, and so forth. Editors already have great latitude to
defer to prominent referees enforce their own standards, equitably or otherwise.
My biggest worry is that the evolving terms of the debate as in qual-v-quant and positivist-v-nonpositivist directions is having the effect of re-erecting the very barriers that I and many others have long hoped to demolish. The discursive construction of methodological divides, or something like that. This is something to be regretted—that there are grad students who think that their most important choice is about choosing a methodology rather than a question, or researchers who identify professionally by methodology and epistemology rather than substantive problem.
[*] This is a big area of misunderstanding. Many researchers who work with historical or archival data appear to believe that the Journal Editors’ Transparency Statement (JETS) means that they will be required to submit, say, full scans of any archival documents that they use. The basis appears to be the first item in the JETS statement, that journals
Require authors to ensure that cited data are available at the time of publication through a trusted digital repository. Journals may specify which trusted digital repository shall be used (for example if they have their own dataverse). If cited data are restricted (e.g., classified, require confidentiality protections, were obtained under a non-disclosure agreement, or have inherent logistical constraints), authors must notify the editor at the time of submission…
Is it actually true that JETS means that standard references would no longer suffice? I don’t know.