replication and the future of sociology
Consider the following:
- It was discovered that only about a quarter of sociologists are able, permitted, or willing to provide replication materials for third parties.
- Andrew Gelman had major a statistical issue with an article in the American Sociological Review. The data bank was unable to release the data to him for an unstated reason. The ASR also refused to published a comment, despite positive peer review.
- On The Run, one of the most influential ethnographic studies in recent years, is based on research where the field notes were burned, the survey was burned, and the dissertation was embargoed for years.
Sociology, we can do better. Here is what I suggest:
- Dissertation advisers should insist on some sort of storage of data and code for students. For those working with standard data like GSS or Ad Health, this should be easy. For others, some version of the data should accompany the code. There are ways of anonymizing data, or people can sign non-disclosure forms. Perhaps universities can create digital archives of dissertation data, like they have paper copies of dissertations. Secure servers can hold relevant field notes and interview transcripts.
- Journals and book publishers should require quant papers to have replication packages. Qualitative paper authors should be willing to provide complete information for archival work & transcription samples for interview based research. The jury is still out on what ethnographers might provide.
- IRB’s should allow all authors to come up with a version of the data that others might read or consult.
- Professional awards should only be given to research that can be replicated in some fashion. E.g., as Phil Cohen has argued – no dissertation awards should be given for dissertations that were not deposited in the library.
Let’s try to improve.