As editor of Political Behavior, I am a signatory on the Data Access-Research Transparency (DA-RT) Journal Editors Transparency Statement (JETS). If you are unfamiliar with either DA-RT or JETS, you can find more information at http://www.dartinformation.org/.
My decision to commit Political Behavior to the basic principles embodied by the JETS occurred even before I became editor. In my application to edit the journal, I committed to following the lead of other prominent journals and require that authors make their data and code available in a trusted data repository and created a page on Harvard’s Dataverse site as an option for authors (https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataverse/polbehavior). When I was asked to agree to be a supporter of the initiative and, later, sign the JETS, the decision seemed obvious to me. I had already committed Political Behavior to these practices and assumed that the decision would be relatively uncontroversial.
In my 10 months as editor, this has been true. One author had concerns about the policy because he was using proprietary data that could not be made publicly available. In our communications, I made it clear that he merely needed to include a footnote communicating this to the reviewers and the paper would undergo review as normal. No other author or potential author has contacted me about concerns with this policy.
Obviously, the JETS has become more controversial. This is largely due to a note from the editor in Perspectives on Politics, and has manifest as a petition signed by almost 1000 political scientists, including some of the leading people in our field and members of the editorial board (http://dialogueondart.org/). On November 11, the originators of the petition will send the petition to the signatories of JETS asking them to delay implementation for some unknown length of time.
I want to clarify now that I will not be delaying implementation. In fact, that is incorrect language. In terms of Political Behavior, my interpretation of the petition would ask me to roll back the policy that has been in effect for almost a year now. I will not be changing these policies of Political Behavior for several reasons.
First, as noted, I have had no issues with the implementation of the policy. Much of the concern expressed in the petition is tied up in the implementation and the uncertainty of the policy. At Political Behavior, we do not have this uncertainty and the implementation is going well. Perhaps authors with concerns about the policy have chosen to submit their work elsewhere, but I have no evidence that this is the case. I hope that if there are authors who have made this choice they will communicate with me or with members of the editorial board.
Second, as editor of Political Behavior, I am responsible to the APSA section on Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior and to Springer. In my proposal to edit the journal I committed to both of them that I would implement these policies. Changing these policies would run counter to the mandate that I was given as editor. I have also communicated these policies to both my editorial board and to the EPOVB leadership without hearing any concerns.
Third, I think that these policies are especially important for our field. While none of the recent ethical concerns involved publications in Political Behavior, they have been in our field. As a result, I think that Political Behavior does have a responsibility to be a leader in changes that increase the transparency of the research process.
I believe JETS is an important step forward and fits with the needs of the political science community. I am, of course, interested in discussion and debate about research standards in the discipline. If you or any of your colleagues do have concerns, please feel free to communicate them with me or members of the editorial board.
David A. M. Peterson