Legitimizing Political Science or Splitting the Discipline? Reflections on DA-RT and the Policy-making Role of a Professional Association

Peregrine Schwartz-Shea*, Dvora Yanow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


We have been invited by Politics & Gender's editors to review the origins and current standing of the Data Access and Research Transparency (DA-RT) policy, an effort initiated by the eponymous American Political Science Association (APSA) Ad Hoc Committee and led primarily by Colin Elman, Diana Kapiszewski, and Arthur (“Skip”) Lupia. We have not been bystanders in this unfolding history, and in keeping with feminist and interpretive epistemologies that inform our work and that tie positionality to knowledge claims (e.g., Haraway 1988), we include mention of our own involvement (see Mala Htun's 2016 parallel account of her activities). Herein lies one of our main points in assessing DA-RT: from the perspective of interpretive, feminist, and some other qualitative methods, transparency as an epistemological mandate is not new. On the contrary, it is widely accepted, and expected, within certain epistemic communities (noted also in Yanow and Schwartz-Shea 2014); it needs no set of new rules imposed from above, by journal editors and others, for its instantiation. Our assessment includes questions about the relationship between APSA and DA-RT, as the association's support has colored DA-RT's reception. Part of what we seek to account for is resistance on the part of political scientists of various sorts—and not only those in the interpretive community, which we know best—to the DA-RT initiative and even to the participatory Qualitative Transparency Deliberations (QTD) process designed by Alan Jacobs and Tim Büthe (2015) at the invitation of the APSA organized section Qualitative and Multi-Method Research (QMMR; see, e.g., Isaac 2016). Even as we see changes in representations of DA-RT in response to critiques, we are concerned that those questioning the substance of DA-RT and the process of its adoption by APSA (in the Ethics Guidelines) and various journals are being represented by its architects as “either not paying attention to what we have been doing or [as] purposely misrepresenting the project,” including presenting “conspiracy theories, enemy narratives, and speculation about others' motives” (Elman and Lupia, 2106, 45, 50). These very words speak to DA-RT's potential to marginalize dissenters and even split the discipline. How has U.S. political science arrived at this pass?

Original languageEnglish
Article numberE11
Number of pages19
JournalPolitics and Gender
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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