I.3. Power and Institutions

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Transparency as it relates to power differentials

PostWed Nov 30, 2016 4:59 pm

This working group is also considering how different transparency norms have differential accts given the power inequities in our profession. I am an assistant-level faculty member at a good (though not top) liberal arts college. I received less than ten thousand dollars in start-up funds. My co-PIs and I recently launched a set of survey experiments, which are costing upwards of five figures. We will apply for external grants -- but, in the short term, these initial experiments have decimated my start-up funds. We plan to write an article on the results, and then develop a book-length project.

I bring these numbers up because I believe DA-RT poses serious costs on even quantitative scholars. If my co-PIs and I publish an initial article on our results, we must make all our data public. This rule turns the dollar cost of our entire project into the cost of a single article, and we would lose exclusive access to the data as we develop the book-length project. How are under-resourced scholars supposed to compete at this rate? Junior scholars--or scholars at any level--should not be asked to invest thousands of dollars of limited funds, as well as perhaps several years of work , to simply publish one article. This point especially holds where graduate students or junior scholars have spent several years constructing datasets by hand (rather than simply purchasing them via an on-line experiment).

Either the peer review process sufficiently vets scholarly work without having access to the original data or replication files--or the peer review system is broken. If the peer review system is broken, then we need more fixes than simply making the data accesible, transparent, and replicable to the global community. (For instance-- one compromise solution-- require the researchers to turn over the data to graduate students working for the journal, for a replication check prior to publication, but do not require the dataset to be made available for free, on-line.)

Resource constraints will always dictate the kinds of scholarly work we can and cannot do. For instance, I could choose different projects, one that did not decimate my start-up funds as quickly. However, DA-RT should not be exacerbating these inequities. Perhaps asking scholars with access to five or six-figure research funds to un-gate their data upon publication does not impose a high burden, as funds exist for well-resourced scholars to be endlessly creative in the next iteration of their designs. (And scholars from well-resourced institutions also fare disproportionately better in access to large-dollar research grants, which further allowes them to "pay to play.") But, for under-resourced scholars, DA-RT only sharpens their inability to compete-- or compete for long-- when it comes to publishing their work in top journals.

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Re: Transparency as it relates to power differentials

PostFri Dec 09, 2016 3:26 pm

What are some of the costs or risks involved in depositing field notes and interviews in a public depository?

1. subject protection -- field notes and interviews may include information that could be linked back to subject participants regardless of a scholar's efforts to erase any identifying info in field notes and interviews -- this is true for my own extensive interview and focus group notes / transcriptions. Why should I risk the subjects -- and my career -- by depositing this qualitative data into a public depository? I go through an IRB process. Do the viewers of the public depository data go through an IRB to protect the information?

2. time constraints -- in order to avoid #1 above, this would require a lot of time on the scholar's part. I have a heavy teaching load. I do not have RAs/TAs to assist with my workload at my university. This would set up an inequality in which I would likely stop conducting interviews and holding focus groups to avoid having to risk #1 above, or I would stop such research altogether after getting tenure to avoid the risk of #1 above.

3. Who has access to this data in a public depository? How is it protected copyright-wise as well as protected from false readings of the field notes and interview transcripts -- as sitting in a room interviewing someone gives me a much better interpretation of what s/he is saying than reading a transcript -- and individuals who may deliberately seek to harm a scholar by misinterpreting the information?

4. just one more hurdle to try and publish to try and get tenure or promotion in the "publish or perish" corporatized universities --- Encourages some of us to stop trying to publish or to leave academia, especially those who are trying to interview disadvantaged, vulnerable populations

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