Social science fields have each taken their turn in the spotlight with instances of influential research that fell apart when scrutinized. Beyond deliberate fraud, there is growing evidence that much social science research features sloppy yet inadvertent errors, and a sense that many analyses produce statistically “significant” results only by chance. Due in part to a rising number of highly publicized cases, there is growing demand for solutions. A movement is emerging across disciplines towards greater research transparency, open science, and reproducibility. Researchers have developed new tools for combatting false positives and non-reproducible findings, as well as adapting approaches from medicine and other fields. For instance, more researchers are conducting meta-analyses, pushing to reform the journal peer review process to focus on good research design rather than on “sexy” results, and posting pre-specified hypothesis documents in public registries, all to curb rampant publication bias. New software tools make it easier to implement version control with dynamic documents that can reproduce an entire research workflow with a single mouse click, and data repositories are making it simple to download others’ data, encouraging the replication and extension of previous work. Our textbook is the first to fully synthesize these new methods. (The book is forthcoming with University of California Press, expected publication date: July 2019).
“In this profoundly important book, Christensen, Freese, and Miguel outline a pragmatic, seemingly modest plan for rehabilitating the traditional scientific norms of integrity and transparency. Many people drawn by these norms into social science are troubled by institutional incentives that increasingly reward quantity over quality, tradeoffs over rigor, and impact factors over insight. Students preparing for a career in the social sciences should read it carefully.”
“An excellent one-stop-shop introduction to the topic, it summarizes key advances in this area and provides important practical advice for researchers.”
“Social science can help people make better decisions. P-hacking, publication biases, and related practices do the opposite—they mislead other researchers, students, policy makers, and the public. We have to do better. Christensen, Freese, and Miguel’s first-of-its-kind guidebook is loaded with compelling insights and concrete advice about how to better serve those who depend on us. It is an essential reference for social science’s next generation of innovators.”
“The authors will convince you and your students to change how you do your work. Only by reforming our practices can we move forward together to produce social science that is both cumulative and credible.”
“A clear-eyed take on the state of social science and how it can live up to the promise of providing quality evidence regarding fundamental questions about humans and society.”
“This is the first work to draw together the exploding area of methodological and practical work to increase the credibility of social-science research through transparency and reproducibility.”