Two Weeks In: An Update from Lead Editor Jan Leighley

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two weeks since we re-started AJPS editorial operations. Since then, we’ve had over 60 manuscripts submitted, and have those papers out for review. We’ve also worked to get reviews on papers that needed new reviewers, or had reviewers that needed to be pestered (apologies!) . . . which reminds me of the critical importance of reviewers in the peer-review process. We will recognize our reviewers by posting the entire list here at at the end of the year. Until then, know that original invitations—or pesters about still needing reviews—reflect the editorial team’s reliance on experts across the discipline. Thank you for contributing your time and energy to make this work.

Speaking of time and energy: I’m pleased to announce that Layna Mosley (University of North Carolina) has agreed to join us as associate editor. Layna Mosley is Professor of Political Science at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research and teaching focus on international relations, international political economy, and comparative political economy, as well as international relations. She is the author of two books, Labor Rights and Multinational Production and Global Capital and National Governments, and served as editor of Interview Research in Political Science. Her research, which has been supported by Fulbright, has appeared in numerous academic journals including Journal of Conflict Resolution, the American Journal of Political Science, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, New Political Economy, Human Rights Quarterly, American Political Science Review, and Comparative Political Studies. Mosley received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University.

While we are still working on some transition issues, we know that Layna joining the team means that all of us will be happy to shift even more fully to focusing on the intellectual and scholarly work that makes the AJPS what it is, and worrying less about the editorial office. That work, of course, reflects some of the best in the discipline, and we look forward to seeing more submissions over the next few months.

Jan Leighley, Interim Editor

Introducing the New Editorial Team

As MPSA President Elisabeth Gerber announced on May 3, the Council voted to appoint me as Lead Interim Editor for June 2018-June 2019, in anticipation of a successful search for the next four-year editorial team. With previous editorial service to the American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) and the Journal of Politics, the challenge of a one-month transition period seemed less daunting in light of the expectation of working with a team of associate editors. In identifying potential associate editors, my first priority was to find leading scholars across subfields of the discipline, ones whose professional values were consistent with the scholarly goals of the AJPS—and who were able to make a commitment to the journal, over other academic obligations, on such short notice.

As that one-month transition period comes to a close, I am pleased to announce that Sarah M. Brooks of The Ohio State University, Mary G. Dietz of Northwestern University, Jennifer L. Lawless of the University of Virginia, and Rocio Titiunik of the University of Michigan have agreed to serve as associate editors.

Sarah M. Brooks is Professor of Political Science and 2018-2019 Huber Faculty Fellow at The Ohio State University. Her research and teaching interests center on comparative and international political economy, Latin American politics and social protection. Brooks is also co-director of the Brazil Working Group at the Center for Latin American Studies, and co-director of the Globalization Workshop at the Mershon Center. She is the author of Social Protection and the Market in Latin America and she has written extensively on the topic of social security and pension reform. Her research, which has been supported by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung Foundation and Fulbright, has appeared in numerous scholarly journals including International Organization, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, and Latin American Politics and Society. Brooks received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University.

Mary G. Dietz is the John Evans Professor of Political Theory and Professor of Political Science and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University. Her areas of academic specialization are political theory and the interpretation of texts, with concentrations in feminist theory and politics; democratic theory and citizenship; the history of Western political thought, and contemporary political and social theory. Dietz is the author of Between the Human and the Divine: The Political Thought of Simone Weil and Turning Operations: Feminism, Arendt, and Politics; and editor of Thomas Hobbes & Political Theory. She has also served as editor of Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy from 2005-2012. Dietz received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

Jennifer L. Lawless is Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on political ambition, and she is the co-author of Women on the Run: Gender, Media, and Political Campaigns in a Polarized Era, co-author of Running from Office: Why Young Americans Are Turned Off to Politics, and author of Becoming a Candidate: Political Ambition and the Decision to Run for Office. She is also a nationally recognized expert on women and politics, and the co-author of It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office. Her research, which has been supported by the National Science Foundation, has appeared in numerous academic journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, and the Journal of Politics. Lawless received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University.

Rocío Titiunik is James Orin Murfin Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. She specializes in quantitative methodology for the social sciences, with emphasis on quasi-experimental methods for causal inference and political methodology. She is a member of the leadership team of the Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models (EITM) Summer Institute, member-at-large of the Society for Political Methodology, and member of Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP). She is also associate editor for Political Science Research and Methods. Her work appears in various journals in the social sciences and statistics, including the American Journal of Political Science, the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, Econometrica, the Journal of the American Statistical Association, and the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Titiunik received her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.

Soon I expect an additional editor to join the team—more details when I have them. Until then, the five of us will be working to secure high-quality reviews promptly, and identify those manuscripts that satisfy our expectations of intellectual contribution and scholarly impact. Final manuscript publications decisions will be made jointly by the associate editor to whom the manuscript is assigned and myself, with no appeals accepted.

And so we’re off! The year will go by quickly, I’m sure—with thanks in advance to our reviewers (who do the real work) and to Rick Wilson and the rest of the Editorial Search Committee tasked with finding the next editorial team. I am also grateful to the many individuals on the MPSA Council, in the MPSA office, on the Wiley staff and on the MSU editorial staff for getting us going so quickly.

Hope that your summer is as fun and productive as I expect ours to be!

Jan Leighley, Interim Editor

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 AJPS’ Guidelines, 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

AJPS to Award COS Open Practice Badges

By William G. Jacoby

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.


The American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) is the flagship journal of the Midwest Political Science Association and is published by Wiley.