Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences

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Call for Papers: Working Group in African Political Economy (WGAPE)

BITSS is co-sponsoring the 4th Working Group in African Political Economy (WGAPE) Annual Meeting, taking place May 29-30 at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University.

WGAPE brings together faculty and advanced graduate students in Economics and Political Science who combine field research experience in Africa with training in political economy methods. Paper submissions must reflect WGAPE’s broad research agenda on core issues within the political economy of African development and encourages submissions of works-in-progress.

In addition, this year’s call for papers invites submissions of Pre-Analysis Plans (PAPs). There will be one dedicated session to the presentation and discussion of a PAP at this meeting.

  • Please find the full call for paper here.
  • Papers must be uploaded here by 11:59pm PT on April 19th.
  • Successful applicants will be notified by May 1st and will be invited to attend the full symposium.
  • WGAPE will cover the cost of economy travel, accommodation and dining (capped).

For further information, please contact Elisa Cascardi (CEGA) at

Now Accepting Applications for Summer Institute

BITSS is pleased to announce it is now accepting applications to attend its 2015 Summer Institute.

This year’s workshop entitled “Transparency and Reproducibility Methods for Social Science Research” will be held in Berkeley, June 10-12. The intensive course will provide participants with a thorough overview of best practices for open, reproducible research, allowing them to remain in the vanguard of new scientific frontiers.

The 2014 Cohort of the BITSS Institute

The 2014 Cohort of the BITSS Institute

Topics covered include:

  • Ethics in Experimental Research
  • False-positives, P-hacking, P-curve, Power Analysis
  • Data Management & Statistical Analysis in R
  • Theory and Implementation of Pre-analysis Plans
  • Approaches to the Replication of Research
  • Meta-analyses: New Tools & Techniques
  • Next Steps in Changing Scientific Research Practices


Research Transparency Meeting with CGD

By Garret Christensen (BITSS)

Though BITSS hopes to increase research transparency across the social sciences, several of us, myself included, have a background in development economics. So we were happy to take part in a meeting last week at the Center for Global Development (CGD) in Washington, DC. In addition to BITSS and CGD, representatives from the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), Inter-American Development Bank, InterAction, Innovations for Poverty Action Lab (IPA), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), World Bank research group, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the US Treasury were present.

I was impressed by how much agreement there was, and how interested these large, sometimes slow-moving, organizations seemed to be, but I should probably temper my enthusiasm a bit: the people in the room were not randomly selected from their respective agencies, and even if they had been, we may still be far from actual policy changes and wider adoption. Regardless, we had a fruitful discussion about some of the roadblocks on the way to increased transparency.

Here are a few of the themes we discussed, mostly obstacles to increased transparency:


Join an Open Call on Reproducibility Tomorrow at 11 am (ET)

BITSS Project Scientist Garret Christensen will be participating in a discussion with the Mozilla Science Lab on reproducibility in research tomorrow at 11 am ET. The call is open to the public. For those interested in joining, more information can be found here.

Annual Meeting Speakers Now on YouTube!

In case you missed the 2014 BITSS Research Transparency Forum, you can watch the presentations of all five speakers featured on the BITSS YouTube Channel and embedded in our Annual Meeting page. The YouTube channel also includes videos with interviews from the BITSS Board on the importance of research transparency.

Recap of Research Integrity in Economics Session at ASSA 2015

By Garret Christensen (BITSS)

BITSS just got back from the ASSA conference, the major annual gathering of economists. The conference largely serves to help new PhD economists find jobs, but there are of course sessions of research presentations, a media presence and sometimes big names like the Chair-of-the-Federal-Reserve in attendance. BITSS faculty Ted Miguel presided a session on research transparency. The session featured presentations by Eva Vivalt (NYU), Brian Nosek (UVA) and Richard Ball (Haverford College).

Vivalt presented part of her job market paper which shows that, at least in development economics, randomized trials seems to result in less publication bias and/or specification-searching than other types of evaluations.

Nosek’s presentation covered a broad range of transparency topics, from his perspective as a psychologist. His discussant, economist Justin Wolfers, concurred completely and focused on how Nosek’s lessons could apply to economics.

As an economist myself, I thought a few of his points were interesting:

  1. The Quarterly Journal of Economics should really have a data-sharing requirement.
  2. Economists don’t do enough meta-analysis (Ashenfelter et al.’s paper on the estimates of the returns to education is a great example of the work we could and should be doing)
  3. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek (I think), Wolfers discussed the fool/cheat paradox: whenever anyone is caught with a mistake in their research, they can either admit to having made an honest mistake, or having cheated. If they choose the “fool” option, as most do, there’s not much one can do to change one’s own intelligence. Why does nobody cop to having cheated? You could more easily make a case for mending your ways if you admitted to cheating.


Come Learn More About Research Transparency at ASSA/AEA

If you’re at the ASSA meetings in Boston this weekend, and you are interested in learning more about research transparency, then please stop by booth 127 in the exhibition hall to speak with BITSS and Center for Open Science representatives. Or you can attend our session Monday morning at 10:15am: “Promoting New Norms for Transparency and Integrity in Economic Research.”