Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences

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“I would like to see us demonstrating by example the value of this form of science”

Don Green, Perspective from Political Science

This is the second post of a video series in which we ask leading social science academics and experts to discuss research transparency in their discipline. The interview was recorded on December 13, 2013 at the University of California, Berkeley.

Full Transcript:

My name is Don Green. I’m Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. My research focuses on a wide array of social science topics, but primarily these days on campaigns and elections with special reference to political participation. I’m also interested quite widely in the application of field experiments throughout the social sciences. I have written on research methodology and on the practical details of designing and analyzing experiments.

How did you become involved with BITSS?

I think I was a partisan supporter of BITSS even before there was a BITSS. When Edward Miguel invited me to participate in the first BITSS conference, I was very eager to do so in part because it was a star-studded cast of the very best people presenting on very important topics – and I wanted to be part of the conversation. The second BITSS conference that is going on today is just as good if not better. It is an exciting moment to see the development of new norms and institutions take shape in the social sciences.

What is the most interesting topic today in research transparency?

They are so many. I think they can be divided into two sets of questions. One would be the theoretical questions that we heard about earlier this morning, when we saw a mathematical statistician give a treatment of how in informal terms you would deal with what is effectively data dredging. “People are fishing through the data. How can we understand the sampling variability associated with that procedure?” I thought that was a brilliant presentation. But then there are all sorts of great presentations that have to do with the practical details of how to prepare transparent materials, sharing them with others, and creating institutions that are incentive-compatible – given that the typical researcher would really like not to change his or her current practice.

What would be the best direction for BITSS to head in?

I would like to see us demonstrating by example the value of this form of science – either in the form of implementation of new registration, archiving and open material practices; or the creation of a new journal. Or perhaps the conversation of an old journal – such as the Nosek’s initiative – to best practices.


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