AJPS is on Year-End Break!

The American Journal of Political Science is taking its end-of-the-year hiatus from Saturday, December 10, 2016, until Monday, January 9, 2017. During this one-month period, no new or revised manuscripts will be accepted, although all other Journal operations will continue unabated. Thus, we will continue to process incoming reviews, and I will issue editorial decisions on manuscripts as soon as sufficient information is available to do so.

Unfortunately, authors will not be able to check the status of manuscripts through the Editorial Manager system during the hiatus. We apologize for any inconvenience that this causes. If you wish to check the status of your manuscript, please send an e-mail request to ajps@msu.edu and we will respond to you as soon as possible. Please include the AJPS manuscript number and title in your request.

On behalf of the entire American Journal of Political Science Editorial Staff, I want to wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year! Again, we will resume full operations on Monday, January 9, 2017.

William G. Jacoby
Editor, American Journal of Political Science

Upcoming Year-End Break for the AJPS

The American Journal of Political Science will take its end-of-the-year break from Saturday, December 10, 2016, until Monday, January 9, 2017. During this one-month period, no new or revised manuscripts will be accepted, although all other Journal operations continue unabated. So, we will continue to process incoming reviews, and I will issue editorial decisions on manuscripts as soon as sufficient information is available to do so.

Unfortunately, authors will not be able to check the status of manuscripts through the Editorial Manager system during the hiatus. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes. If you wish to check the status of your manuscript, please send an e-mail request to ajps@msu.edu and we will respond to you as soon as possible. Please include the AJPS manuscript number and title in your request.

Please remember to mark your calendars if you plan to send your work to the American Journal of Political Science sometime in the near future: Again, the AJPS Editorial Office will be closed to new and revised submissions from December 10, 2016, until January 9, 2017.

William G. Jacoby
Editor, American Journal of Political Science

QDR and the AJPS Replication Policy

(Guest Posting by Colin Elman and Diana Kapiszewski)

The Qualitative Data Repository (QDR), located at Syracuse University, ingests, curates, archives, manages, durably preserves, and publishes digital data used in qualitative and multi-method social inquiry.  The repository develops and publicizes common standards and methodologically informed practices for these activities, as well as for reusing and citing qualitative data. As part of this broader undertaking, QDR welcomes the opportunity to work with other organizations and institutions as they pursue their transparency goals. QDR is pleased to have been selected by The American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) to help instantiate part of its revised Replication and Verification Policy.

AJPS has a long-standing commitment to the general principles reflected in the Data Access and Research Transparency (DA-RT) initiative. AJPS considers openness to be a fundamental component of social science. Accordingly, AJPS signed the Journal Editors Transparency Statement (JETS) in October 2014, pledging to implement policies by January 2016 that require authors of evidence-based articles to make as accessible as possible the empirical foundation and logic of inference invoked in their research.

Earlier this year, the Journal clarified and enhanced its Guidelines for Preparing Replication Files. Among other important changes, the Guidelines now provide more comprehensive directions for how scholars of qualitative research and multi-method research with a qualitative component can fulfill openness requirements.  Just as the Journal’s policies with respect to quantitative approaches are instantiated in cooperation with the University of North Carolina’s Odum Institute for Research in Social Science, the Journal’s new qualitative policies will be facilitated by QDR.

AJPS’ editorial position is that it publishes rigorous social science produced using public procedures. Subject to the ethical and legal constraints described in the Guidelines, the Journal takes the view that both data and analysis should be accessible to readers. Moreover, while not mandated by JETS, the journal also undertakes a pre-publication appraisal of the analysis in each evidence-based article that has been accepted for publication.

AJPS recognizes that data access and research transparency should be pursued in ways that are consistent with the type of social inquiry being conducted, the forms of evidence being deployed, the ways in which the data were generated, and the analytical processes that were used.  That said, the Journal is confident that its guidelines will apply to most empirical researchers whose goal is rigorous social science. The ideas underpinning the journal’s commitment to openness comprise a central element of scientific practice, regardless of the subject matter of, specific investigative strategy used in, nature of the data invoked in, or the analytic procedures employed in a particular publication.

Pre-Publication Replication

AJPS’ review process addresses a broad set of questions about the potential contribution of any manuscript to the stock of knowledge on a given topic. The Journal’s replication requirement speaks to a narrower issue. It calls on scholars to make their data and analysis available so that AJPS editors (facilitated by Odum and QDR) can ascertain whether the particular combination of data and analysis produces the claimed result.

AJPS takes the view that, for many types of scholarship, a third party should be able to replicate precisely the steps an author took to analyze her data, and arrive at exactly the same result. Least controversially, repetitions of explicitly algorithmic (often machine-assisted) analysis of a bounded (and typically interval level) dataset should lead to duplicate results. The archetype of scholarship suited to this kind of assessment is the statistical analysis of quantitative data. Certain types of qualitative research, such as automated content analysis and qualitative comparative analysis, are also readily amenable to this type of evaluation.

Replication is more challenging for qualitative research where the data analyzed do not form part of a bounded dataset with explicit codings, or where the mode of analysis is less obviously algorithmic.  Narrative case studies often combine these elements. When strict replication is infeasible, AJPS still requires authors to make their scholarship as understandable and evaluable as possible. Authors of qualitative research, like all AJPS authors, must explicitly state the logic of inference they are invoking, describe their research processes explicitly and precisely, and provide the materials necessary to elucidate how they arrived at their findings and conclusions.

Ethical and Legal Obligations and Transparency

According to AJPSGuidelines, authors may request a waiver to transparency requirements where sharing data could put the safety, dignity, or well-being of human participants at risk. Moreover, AJPS readily acknowledges that the person best positioned to assess the risk involved in disclosure is the author. The information that authors provide forms the basis of the Journal Editor’s decision concerning whether to grant the waiver.

AJPS strongly encourages authors not to consider providing access to the data underpinning their research as an “all or nothing” choice. Indeed, many scholars already routinely engage in practices that address the tension between transparency and protecting their human participants. For example, when a scholar quotes an anonymous source she is offering a de-identified version of the data precisely to address this tension. AJPS’ transparency requirements simply obligate scholars to render such choices patent and explain them. Moreover, the data management community is developing increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for allowing a reduced or modified view of data while protecting human participants, and AJPS encourages authors to use them. AJPS also understands that, in some situations, no mechanisms or strategies will effectively address human participants concerns, inhibiting the sharing of data that are associated with those project participants.

All AJPS authors must respect proprietary restrictions and copyright. As with human participants, however, it may be possible for some data under these types of constraints to be shared. For qualitative sources, for example, the “Fair Use” exemption outlined in the US 1976 Copyright Act suggests that some (small) portion of different types of copyrighted materials can under certain circumstances be shared for non-commercial use, or for the purposes of private study, teaching, or criticism/review.

Additional Observations

Recent discussions of qualitative data access and research transparency reflect some anxiety among scholars about what impact meeting these obligations may have on them and their work. We hope the information above, and the following observations, will help to address some of these concerns.

First, while there have been some disagreements about how openness is best achieved, the great majority of contributions to the conversation have accepted the general principle that openness facilitates the understanding and evaluation of published claims. AJPS’ policy is consistent with this widely shared consensus.

Second, all advocates of openness likewise recognize that it is an ideal that sometimes has to be modified in practice given competing imperatives. For example, AJPS recognizes that concerns about human participants require a good faith dialogue between authors and the journal. Authors identify data constraints when they submit their manuscript, and the editor communicates the Journal’s decision about how the journal will proceed with respect to those constraints prior to review. This exchange provides the author and the editor with a common understanding of how the data will be managed, and of the implications of any constraints they are under for replication and subsequent sharing, before the article is sent for review.

Third, only the data used to produce the results discussed in the publication need to be provided in order to comply with transparency requirements.  For example, a quantitative replication dataset need not include all the variables in the study dataset from which it was drawn, but rather just the variables included in the analysis.  Authors of qualitative scholarship are likewise only required to share the data underpinning central or contested empirical claims in their article. Beyond these minimum requirements, all authors need to make pragmatic judgements about how much data are needed to illustrate the empirical basis of their inquiry and make it fully and fairly evaluable.

As we hope is clear from the changes being introduced, AJPS welcomes submissions from all research traditions engaged in rigorous social science. We hope that the revised AJPS policy will be regarded as an on-ramp, and not a roadblock, for qualitative research.

Colin Elman, Syracuse University
Co-Director, Qualitative Data Repository and Methods Coordination Project

Diana Kapiszewski, Georgetown University
Co-Director, Qualitative Data Repository

News from the AJPS Editorial Office

The AJPS Editorial Office is Open

The American Journal of Political Science is now open for submissions! The 2016 Summer Hiatus ended at 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 16. And, manuscripts started coming into the AJPS Editorial Office immediately. In the approximately 36 hours since re-opening, we have received 26 submissions! I am happy to report that all of these manuscripts have been processed: That is, they were either been returned to their authors or sent out for review. And I am proud to say that this kind of speedy response is very typical of editorial operations at the AJPS. The average amount of time from initial submission to a desk rejection is 0.8 days, while the average amount of time before a manuscript is sent out for review is 0.7 days. The AJPS Editorial Staff and I understand the kind of time pressure that academic authors face. So, we try to help out by providing the fastest possible turnaround times for the review process. For more information on this and other aspects of manuscript processing at the AJPS, please refer to the Editor’s Annual Report to the Midwest Political Science Association Executive Council. In addition, a Midterm Report will be available shortly before the upcoming Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association.

AJPS Tops Google Scholar Rankings for Political Science

The Google Scholar publication metrics were updated in early July 2016. The main statistic of interest is the h5-index, which Google Scholar describes as “the largest number h such that h articles published in 2011-2015 have at least h citations each.” The 2016 h5-index value for the American Journal of Political Science is 64. This is a fairly substantial increase over the 2015 h-5 index value of 58. The 2016 h5-index places the AJPS eighth among all social science journals– higher than any other political science journal. Within the discipline, the AJPS is followed by the American Political Science Review (2016 h5-index is 61) and the Journal of Politics (2016 h5-index is 48). Taken together with the great news from earlier this summer that the AJPS has the highest two-year Impact Factor (4.515) of all political science journals, the high h5-index confirms that the American Journal of Political Science is maintaining its stature as one of the premiere outlets for high-quality research in the social sciences.

AJPS Participates in Pre-Registered Research Competition

The American Journal of Political Science is participating in the Election Research Preacceptance Competition (ERPC). This great research opportunity has been organized by Arthur Lupia (University of Michigan) and Brendan Nyhan (Dartmouth College) and funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. A complete description of the competition and its rules can be found on the ERPC website. Briefly, scholars entering the competition must design papers using data from the 2016 American National Election Study (ANES) and pre-register their designs. The AJPS, along with eight other journals, has agreed to review the pre-registered designs and make editorial decisions prior to the release of the 2016 ANES data. Competing scholars whose work is accepted at one of the participating journals not only obtain an important addition to their vitas; they also receive a cash award! Along with the competition organizers and funders, the AJPS Editorial Staff hopes that the ERPC will promote and encourage excellence in research practices throughout the social sciences. While we do not believe that preregistration is something that all researchers need to adopt, it is an important component within the broad array of research transparency principles that the AJPS supports very strongly. So, good luck to all scholars who enter the competition!

William G. Jacoby
Editor, American Journal of Political Science

Upcoming Summer Break for the AJPS

The American Journal of Political Science, like most other major journals in political science, takes a one-month break during the summer. This year, the AJPS summer hiatus runs from Saturday, July 16, 2016 through Tuesday, August 16, 2016. During this period no new or revised manuscripts can be submitted, although all other Journal operations continue unabated. So, we will continue to process incoming reviews, and I will issue editorial decisions on manuscripts as soon as sufficient information is available to do so.

Unfortunately, authors will not be able to check the status of manuscripts through the Editorial Manager system during the hiatus. We apologize for any inconvenience that this causes. If you wish to check the status of your manuscript, please send an e-mail request to ajps@msu.edu and we will respond to you as soon as possible. Please include the AJPS manuscript number and title in your request.

Please remember to mark your calendars if you plan to send your work to the American Journal of Political Science sometime in the near future: Again, the AJPS Editorial Office will be closed to new and revised submissions from July 16, 2016, until August 16, 2016.

William G. Jacoby
Editor, American Journal of Political Science

The AJPS Ranks Number One!

Two weeks ago, the 2015 Thomson Reuters Impact Factors were released. And, I am very happy to report that the 2015 Two-Year Impact Factor for the American Journal of Political Science is 4.515. The impact factor gives the average number of citations in 2015 to articles published in the AJPS during 2013 and 2014. This figure is quite impressive, representing an increase of slightly more than 1.2 citations over the 2014 Two-Year Impact Factor (which was 3.269). But, I am especially pleased to say that the 2015 Two-Year Impact Factor puts the AJPS into first place among political science journals! The rankings for the next few journals place Political Analysis second, the Annual Review of Political Science third, and the American Political Science Review fourth, in terms of average citations to articles over the preceding two years.

The 2015 Five-Year Impact Factor for the AJPS is 5.424. Again, this represents a substantial increase over the 2014 figure of 4.506. And, the 2015 Five-Year Impact Factor ranks the Journal in third place behind the American Political Science Review (ranked first) and Political Analysis (ranked second), and just ahead of the Annual Review of Political Science (ranked fourth).

These large Impact Factors confirm that the social science research community looks to the American Journal of Political Science as a primary source for scholarship of the very highest quality. As Editor, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the AJPS authors for the great work that they have submitted to the Journal and to the referees for the rigorous standards they employ while reviewing manuscripts. The accolades that the AJPS has received provide strong evidence that these efforts pay off in tangible ways.

William G. Jacoby,
Editor, American Journal of Political Science

Revisions to the AJPS Replication Policy

Greetings from the American Journal of Political Science Editorial Office! As AJPS readers know, the Journal is strongly committed to the general principles of data access and research transparency. Over the past thirteen months, this commitment has been manifested in the AJPS Replication Policy, which I believe to be one of the most rigorous sets of standards for this purpose in the social science research community. Today, I am very pleased to announce a major revision to the existing AJPS Replication Policy.

The new version of the American Journal of Political Science Replication and Verification Policy explicitly differentiates quantitative and qualitative analyses. Just as in the earlier version, the current Policy requires authors to “provide replication materials that are sufficient to enable interested researchers to reproduce all of the analytic results that are reported in the text and supporting materials (of their article).” But, the “Guidelines for Preparing Replication Files” now include separate sets of instructions for materials pertaining to quantitative and qualitative data. And, the verification process will be carried out differently for the two types of data. Verification of quantitative data analyses will continue to be handled by the Archive Staff at the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. For qualitative analyses, the verification process will be conducted by the staff of the Qualitative Data Repository at Syracuse University. Although differences between these two kinds of analyses certainly exist, I sincerely believe that similarly rigorous criteria can be employed to evaluate the integrity of the data and analytic procedures used in each case.

The updated AJPS Replication and Verification Policy addresses most of the major reservations that have been articulated regarding the general movement to enhance data access and research transparency in political science research. First, there were questions about exactly what materials must be made available. This topic is discussed in detail in the “Guidelines for Preparing Replication Files.” Second, some critics argued that transparency requirements violate data creators’ rights to maintain exclusive access to their data for some period before making it public. The replication guidelines state that authors only need to make available the specific data that were used in the analyses reported in their AJPS articles; any additional observations or variables in the source dataset can be retained for personal use. Third, some scholars raised concerns that replication standards place quantitative analyses in a privileged position relative to qualitative work. Again, the updated replication guidelines accord equal status to quantitative and qualitative analyses by applying appropriate criteria and procedures to each type of research situation. Fourth, there were fears that data access requirements would compromise the protection of human subjects. This topic is discussed explicitly in the updated guidelines, where confidentiality issues and human subjects protection are identified as two of the main reasons that the AJPS Editor will grant an exemption from the general replication requirements. Finally, the Replication and Verification Policy recognizes that it is impossible to anticipate every data analysis situation that may arise in the future. So the AJPS Editor always retains the authority to handle on a case by case basis any research efforts that do not conform fully to the principles underlying the formal guidelines.

In conclusion, I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the AJPS Replication and Verification Policy is not intended to be biased, either positively or negatively, with respect to any epistemological approach, methodological strategy, presentational style, or subject matter. Instead, it is very specifically intended to help ensure that only analyses of the highest possible quality appear within the pages of the Journal. Of course, this immediate goal has broader consequences: On the one hand, it gives authors a stronger foundation to assert that their work actually accomplishes its analytic objectives. On the other hand, it helps promote the scientific study of political phenomena as a rational and cumulative enterprise. Thus, I believe that the AJPS Replication and Verification Policy— along with similar efforts undertaken by other journals and institutions— really makes a tangible and significant contribution to the infrastructure of the social scientific research community.

William G. Jacoby
Editor, American Journal of Political Science

AJPS to Award COS Open Practice Badges

The American Journal of Political Science has demonstrated its commitment to data access and research transparency over the past year through its rigorous replication and verification policy. Starting immediately, the AJPS will provide more visible signals of its adherence to these principles by adopting two of the “Badges to Acknowledge Open Practices” from the Center for Open Science (COS). Specifically, we will use the “Open Data” and “Open Materials” badges illustrated below. According to the COS guidelines,”(t)he Open Data badge is earned for making publicly available the digitally-shareable data necessary to reproduce the reported results.” Similarly, the guidelines state that “(t)he Open Materials badge is earned by making publicly available the components of the research methodology needed to reproduce the reported procedure and analysis.” Thus, the badges are intended to be a salient indicator that the articles to which they are awarded conform to the principles and best practices of openness in scientific research.

COS Badges

Any manuscript that has been accepted for publication at the AJPS and successfully completed the data replication and verification process will automatically meet the criteria for the Open Data and Open Materials badges. Therefore, upon release of the replication Dataset on the AJPS Dataverse, these two badges will be added to the metadata of the Dataverse Dataset. The badges appear near the bottom of the main page for the article’s Dataverse Dataset, along with the statement, “The associated article has been awarded Open Materials and Open Data badges. Learn more about Open Practice Badges from the Center for Open Science.” When the article, itself, is published, the badges will appear with the information near the beginning of the electronic version in the Wiley Online library. And they will be included as part of the statement about replication materials on the first page of the article’s print version.

Of course, some articles published in the American Journal of Political Science will not receive the Badges. For example, many formal theory manuscripts and virtually all of the normative theory manuscripts that are submitted to the Journal do not contain any empirical analyses. Such work is exempt from the AJPS Replication Policy, so the Open Practice Badges are not relevant to these manuscripts. And there are certain situations in which a manuscript may be given an exemption from the usual replication requirements due to the use of restricted-access data. In such cases, authors still are asked to explain how interested researchers could gain access to the data and to provide all relevant software code and documentation for replicating their analyses. Manuscripts in this situation would not receive the Open Data Badge, but they would be awarded the Open Materials Badge. Even with allowances for exceptions, we anticipate that the vast majority of the articles published in the American Journal of Political Science will receive both Badges.

The AJPS will be the first journal in political science to award Open Practice Badges to articles. Currently, the Badges are used by five other journals– four in psychology and one in linguistics. The Badges already appear in the AJPS Dataverse Datasets for all qualified articles (i.e., those that have successfully completed the replication and verification process). And starting today (May 10, 2016) they will appear in all articles published online in the Early View queue within the Wiley Online Library. Of course, this carries over to the print versions of the articles. The Open Practice Badges serve a useful purpose by helping to emphasize the distinctive quality of the work that appears in the American Journal of Political Science.

In Memoriam: Kenneth C. Williams

I am very sad to announce the loss of an American Journal of Political Science Editorial Board member, departmental colleague, and good friend. Kenneth C. Williams, Professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, passed away on April 25, 2016. Ken was 59 years old, and he is survived by his wife, Marcie, and their twelve year old daughter, Katherine. Ken was born in Flint, Michigan. He received a B.A. from Bowling Green State University, an M.A. from the University of Texas at El Paso, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. Ken joined the faculty at MSU in 1988. His main areas of professional interest were formal models, game theory, and laboratory experiments in political science, electoral politics, and the legislative process. Ken was the author of Introduction to Game Theory: A Behavioral Approach (2012, Oxford University Press) and Experimental Political Science and the Study of Causality: From Nature to the Lab (with Rebecca Morton, 2010, Cambridge University Press), along with many other publications.

Speaking from a personal perspective, Ken Williams was an outstanding member of the AJPS Editorial Board. He cheerfully reviewed many manuscripts- almost all of which were highly complex formal models or experimental studies of political phenomena. And he always was willing to help me with advice about submissions to the Journal and ideas regarding possible referees for manuscripts. Speaking on behalf of the AJPS Editorial Staff, our thoughts and condolences go out to Ken’s family. He will be greatly missed.

William G. Jacoby
Editor, American Journal of Political Science

AJPS is on Year-End Break!

The American Journal of Political Science is taking its end-of-the-year hiatus from Saturday, December 12, 2015, until Monday, January 11, 2016. During this one-month period, no new or revised manuscripts will be accepted, although all other Journal operations will continue unabated. Thus, we will continue to process incoming reviews, and I will issue editorial decisions on manuscripts as soon as sufficient information is available to do so.

Unfortunately, authors will not be able to check the status of manuscripts through the Editorial Manager system during the hiatus. We apologize for any inconvenience that this causes. If you wish to check the status of your manuscript, please send an e-mail request to ajps@msu.edu and we will respond to you as soon as possible. Please include the AJPS manuscript number and title in your request.

On behalf of the entire American Journal of Political Science Editorial Staff, I want to wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year! Again, we will resume full operations on Monday, January 11, 2016.

William G. Jacoby
Editor, American Journal of Political Science

The Editor of the AJPS is at Michigan State University and the Editorial Office is supported by
the Michigan State University Department of Political Science and the School of Social Sciences.

  Michigan State University