IV.1. Authoritarian/repressive political regimes

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Sheena Greitens
University of Missouri
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:38 pm

What are the goals of transparency?

PostWed Sep 14, 2016 2:01 pm

What is the goal of transparency in research on/in authoritarian political settings? Why is transparency important and what do we mean by it?

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Eva Bellin
Brandeis University
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:03 pm

Re: What are the goals of transparency?

PostTue Nov 01, 2016 4:58 pm

What follows is a comment submitted by Sheila Carapico, University of Richmond:

There are two sides. Transparency in the field – candor about the research topic – is essential. I have plenty of memories of researchers who lied outright about their investigations, protecting themselves, perhaps, in the short run, or obtaining the necessary permissions and access; but putting contacts and perhaps especially subsequent researchers at considerable risk. This is a serious problem, because, frankly, some fraction of American researchers really are CIA agents or the equivalent, and they endanger everybody. Suspicion is ubiquitous in authoritarian polities, for good reason; there are informants and agents listening and watching. It is especially difficult for junior scholars just setting out, but one antidote is sharing research results, preferably in the language of the country; this is a good practice for other reasons, but it can verify one’s actual interest and expertise. Participating in panels or other public forums is also valuable, where and when possible. ‘Saving’ the results until the analysis is in final form is not acceptable, or not an excuse for lack of sharing preliminary findings with colleagues in-country.
Transparency about funding also matters on both sides: contacts and subjects as well as readers are entitled to know who is sponsoring the research.

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Eva Bellin
Brandeis University
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:03 pm

Re: What are the goals of transparency?

PostTue Nov 01, 2016 5:04 pm

What follows is a comment submitted by Jill Crystal, Auburn University:

Insofar as one goal of transparency is making research reproducible, I'm not sure I buy into some of the underlying assumptions. But in reality, who reproduces someone else's research?

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Eva Bellin
Brandeis University
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:03 pm

Re: What are the goals of transparency?

PostTue Nov 01, 2016 5:12 pm

What follows is a comment submitted by Charles Kurzman, UNC:

I’ve already written about being transparent to our contacts in the field and being transparent to future researchers. If we look at the research enterprise from a broad perspective, as the risks of repression force us to do, we are part of a grand experiment, less than two centuries old, that allows specialized personnel to dedicate themselves to studying the world around us. Transparency is not the goal, it is only a means toward the real goal, which is understanding.

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