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Data access--discourage original data production?

Posted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:44 am
by malahtun
Finally, this discussion should analyze the incentives to produce original data: 1) How can access requirements be designed so as not to discourage production of original data? (Jones, 2015) Fewer scholars may be willing to incur the costs of providing this public good if the rest of the profession can reap the benefits without any expense or effort.

Re: Data access--discourage original data production?

Posted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 1:18 pm
by ejwood
I have many concerns about the DA-RT/JETS statement, but will focus here on what I fear may be some consequences of widespread implementation of the statement by editors.

Translating procedures appropriate for quantitative research to qualitative and multi-method research fails to recognize that immersive, ethnographic research draws on data in a way not reducible to excerpts for sharing with reviewers and posting in repositories. To be sure, some projects can be well represented in posted excerpts, but the analysis of ethnographic data – whether with an interpretivist or positivist approach -- draws on the holistic experience of the field researcher in a way not well captured by interview transcripts and field notes.

We run the risk that the narrow conception of research transparency embodied in the DA-RT/JETS statement will marginalize research that is immersive/ethnographic, the scholars that do it, and put in place incentives to not work in that tradition or on topics where human subjects concerns loom particularly large or where the prospect of public disclosure of personal data would undermine research. These include not only conflict zones, authoritarian regimes, prisons, marginalized communities and schools but also small communities whose ordinary residents may be reluctant to participate if they knew (via the necessary informed consent script) that their reflections will eventually be available to others, even against the best judgment of the researcher. Field access is premised on the subject’s trust in the researcher, and any procedure that removes the researcher’s ethical judgment about data disclosure risks undermining that trust.

I also want to draw the reader’s attention to the just published Comparative Politics Newsletter, which has a symposium on DA-RT that includes source documents, essays by critics, a response by DA-RT advocates, and reflections by editors (particularly excellent is that by Deborah Yashar). See

Elisabeth Jean Wood
Yale University