Political Science Now

APSR Frequently Asked Questions

The APSR will be implementing new manuscript submission guidelines to promote transparency and interpretability in the journal. To accompany the guidelines, the editors have prepared this list of frequently asked questions.

Q1: How will APSR editors treat Institutional Review Board (IRB) rules, or their institutional equivalents, regarding use or dissemination of evidence, including requirements for confidentiality or anonymity of respondents?

A: The editors will honor IRB or equivalent institutional approvals regarding human subject protections. APSR editors expect that authors will have obtained IRB or equivalent approval at their home institution for research that involves human subjects and/or respondents.

Q2:  Can authors decline to make evidence available if it will be difficult or impossible to preserve confidentiality or anonymity, even if the evidence is not explicitly covered by an IRB?

A: Yes. The editors will NOT ask authors to divulge information that may reveal identities of interview subjects who spoke on condition of anonymity, or to provide details that may endanger interview subjects. However, the editors may ask authors to provide a statement explaining why preservation of confidentiality and/or anonymity is essential.

Q3: How will APSR editors treat transparency requirements for data whose legality may be in question, such as Wikileaks?

A: The editors will review papers that employ data whose legality is in question, and will process such a paper in the same way as any other submission to the APSR. However, if the paper is accepted for publication, the authors will need to ascertain that they may legally use the data prior to the article appearing in print.

Q4: How will APSR editors treat transparency requirements for administrative datasets that, if combined with other datasets such as voter files, could reveal information about particular individuals?

A: In such cases, authors can provide an appendix with guidance regarding the steps others can take to obtain the data themselves.

Q5: Does transparency of archival material require active citation or TRAX? If not, what is needed in order for archival documents to be made sufficiently transparent?

A: The editors do not require use of active citation or Transparency Appendix (TRAX). Authors should try to provide clear and precise references to archival materials, with the objective of allowing others to locate the same materials by accessing the archives at which they are stored.

Q6:  How much of my evidence must be made available if I use qualitative material such as quotations from interviews, coded open-ended survey questions, or contextual information derived from field notes to support an empirical claim in an APSR article?

A: Authors should provide—either through footnotes or an online appendix—sufficient information about the qualitative evidence to be able to persuade the reader that the arguments in the article are a fair representation of the research findings.

Q7: How do I show production and analytic transparency for research that is primarily ethnographic or based on participant observation—i.e., for which there is no precise interview protocol  or systematic “procedures used to collect and/or generate” research materials (see APSR Submission Guidelines here).

A: The authors should produce a brief narrative that provides an account of the efforts in which they engaged. For example, they should explain the nature of their own participation or the procedures they used in the ethnography.

Q8: How long may I keep my research evidence or data private, so that I can develop additional  publications before other scholars obtain access to the materials?

A: If the evidence or data are part of a larger project, the authors should only provide the portion that was used in producing the article published in the APSR.

Q9:  Will authors be at a disadvantage if they choose to submit transparency-related materials after acceptance rather than at the time of submission?

A: No. Upon conditional acceptance authors are expected to provide sufficient information to proceed to full acceptance.

Q10: Will the APSR editors post data on transparency-related practices after the guidelines are implemented, including requests for exemptions and the type(s) of evidence submitted by authors?

A: Yes, these data will be included as a normal part of the editors’ annual report to APSA Council.

Note from the Editors

We emphasize that the editors do not believe that a “one-size-fits-all solution” is appropriate to promote transparency and interpretability in the APSR, given the diversity of scholarly work in our discipline. We hope the published guidelines and this FAQ demonstrate our continued commitment to maintain a fully inclusive APSR.  That said, as editors, we reserve the right to request further information from authors, where appropriate.

We welcome further questions; please feel free to contact the editors at apsr@mail.uni-mannheim.de.