Overview of policy types from the Social Science journals in the sample

Policy Types – Social Sciences

 Integral – Data/Materials/Software (Integral to your article)

Like the Sciences, some Social Science publications also have policies for integral data.

1.  Integral data – but weak policy

This is the type of policy that should actually be strong in that it should really be monitored, and can indeed be monitored, but is referred to in terms which are quite weak implying that you can do this if you want to.

Examples

a) Elsevier – Schizophrenia Research (Top Social Science)

This policy refers to DNA sequences and GenBank Accession numbers – which in the case of strong policies are used to monitor that the data has been deposited.

However, the policy says “Many Elsevier journals cite “gene accession numbers”” and “Elsevier authors wishing to enable other scientists to use the accession numbers….” – which are not statements indicating that the data must be deposited as a requirement of publication.

b) The Royal College of Psychiatrists – The British Journal of Psychiatry (Top Social Science)

Under ‘Access to Data’ their policy states:

“If the study includes original data, at least one author must confirm that he or she had full access to all the data in the study, and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. We strongly encourage authors to make their source data publicly available.”

This is the entirety of what it states and whilst it appears to be strong there is no indication of any monitoring or recommendations as to how the data should be made accessible. There is no recommendation here as to where data could be stored.

2. Integral data – the journal refers you to external Ethical Guidelines

a) Sage – Personality and Social Psychology Review (Top Social Science).

The Submission Guidelines refer you to the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association – these ethical guidelines contain the following statement:

8.14 Sharing Research Data for Verification
(a) After research results are published, psychologists do not withhold the data on which their conclusions are based from other competent professionals who seek to verify the substantive claims through reanalysis and who intend to use such data only for that purpose, provided that the confidentiality of the participants can be protected and unless legal rights concerning proprietary data preclude their release. This does not preclude psychologists from requiring that such individuals or groups be responsible for costs associated with the provision of such information. http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx?item=11

Here the journal policy refers you to data sharing policies that are part of the ethical landscape of the discipline.

This also obviously refers to any publication that is actually published by the American Psychological Association – e.g. Psychological Methods (Top Social Science)

b) Sage – American Sociological Review (Published in association with the American Sociological Association – Top Social Science)

Under the Manuscript Submission procedures, this journal refers you to the ethical guidelines of the American Sociological Association – these ethical guidelines contain the following statement:

“Sociologists make their data available after completion of a project or its major publications, except where proprietary agreements with employers, contractors, or clients preclude such accessibility or when it is impossible to share data and protect the confidentiality of the data or the anonymity of research participants (e.g. raw field notes or detailed information from ethnographic interviews)”

3. Integral Data – but refers to the analysis of pre-existing datasets

a) Physicians Postgraduate Press – The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (official journal of the American Society for Clinical Psychopharmacology)

See under:  ‘Analyses of Preexisting Datasets’ – Here the author is not necessarily the creator of the original dataset but is required to provide details about how the dataset in question can be accessed.

Supplementary Materials (Enhancing your article)

1. Request/Suggest type – and happy to accept it – submitted with the manuscript – published with the journal

Examples

a) Taylor and Francis publications – “Adding multimedia and supplementary content to your article” (generic to the publications of the publisher)

  • Reviewed in connection with Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies and Asia Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development (Bottom Social Science Journals)

This policy makes a range of suggestions about what types of material would enhance the article and is happy to accept the material to be published with the journal.

This policy refers to Animations, Movie Files, Sound files, Text files, and Supplementary Material (pertinent and support the article).

A range of file formats, file sizes and other instructions are provided. The material must be submitted with the manuscript.

The policy is weak. The material is not a ‘requirement’ of publication.

Both Elsevier (Video Data and Supplementary Data) and the American Psychological Association Publications (Multimedia Files) have a similar generic policy on data which enhances articles.

b) Springer Publications – “Electronic Supplementary Material (generic to publisher)

  • Reviewed  in connection with Asia Europe Journal (Bottom Social Science Journal)

This generic policy similarly refers to Audio, Video, and Animations. But it does also make mention of more specialised formats such as .pdb (chemical), .wrl (VRML) and .tex.

This policy also refers to the “Accessibility” of the provided content (related to catering for disabilities etc).

c) Springer Publications: Studies in East European Thought – “Electronic Supplementary Material”

This also makes mention of large original data such as additional tables.

Wiley Blackwell also have a “Supporting Information” type policy which contains Multimedia elements but also refers to “native datasets and specialist software” (possibly moving into the integral data arena as in the section below).

2. Request/Suggest type – and happy to accept it – but you can also link to an external database or repository (but not your own website)

a) Maney Publishing: London Journal – “Supplementary Material” (Bottom Social Science)

Formats and instructions are given.

3. ‘Supplemental Type’ Materials – which should really be described as ‘Integral’ Materials

a) Project HOPE – Health Affairs – “Supplemental Materials” (Top Social Science)

Some of the materials are probably described as supplemental (and thus supplementary to the article itself) because they will be deposited with the journal. However, the material they refer to is not of the multimedia type (which would enhance the article) but concerns “supplying information that is necessary to evaluate the credibility of their work” and probably should therefore be described as ‘integral’. There is a definition issue at work here.

The journal is particularly keen on the full details of any regressions which have been used.

Other ‘supplemental materials’ “may” be submitted and are therefore properly of the ‘request/suggest’ type.

b) Lippincott Williams & Wilkins  – Epidemiology – “Online Supplemental Material” (Top Social Science)

Underneath the section on ‘Online Supplemental Material’ the journal makes reference to Questionnaires – which should also be provided as online supplemental material. As these are foundational to the actual dataset, they are properly classed as integral materials. This is one of the few mentions of a questionnaire in a data/materials policy. Questionnaires are emphasised separately here as they are very frequent research tools in the Social Sciences but they are only mentioned once in the policies under review in the JoRD project.

NOTES ON THE ANALYSIS GENERALLY

  • Mention of appropriate Databases and Repositories for Social Sciences are not much in evidence in the policies unless the journal discipline is more scientifically orientated. This begs the question of where Social Science related materials would be stored if policies were to be made STRONG in the Social Sciences. What are the qualitative data databases that need to be referred to? What would the equivalent of an Accession number be?
  • Not much mention is made of specifically Social Science types of data – e.g. Transcripts of Interviews, Focus Groups, Questions and Questionnaires, although some of the data may be implicit in Multimedia policies (e.g. videos of scenarios under investigation in the article – the deposit of such data is complicated by needing to gain the permission of the participants who may be taking part in the videos and recordings of interviews?? As below).
  • There is a debate in the Social Sciences about the nature of ‘data’ itself. Social Sciences debate the concept of whether data is ‘out there’ waiting to be found (positivist assumptions), or ‘constructed’ in a ‘reflexive’ manner between researcher and participant. Also, can the context of a previous research study be transferred to the new study – or does the new researcher bring a new reflexivity to the data in question.
  • The data landscape in the Humanities and Social Sciences is complicated by the data being collected needing to respect the anonymity of individual human subjects who may be recognisable from raw data such as field notes. Can totally raw data be provided in the Social Sciences? (this may also apply to Science journals and patient data though, as some patients may be recognisable from their symptoms).
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