The Rush to Transparency: DA-RT and the Potential Dangers for Qualitative Research
by Kristen Renwick Monroe, University of California
What is the impact of the recent Data Access and Research Transparency (DA-RT) initiative and the Journal Editors Transparency Statement (JETS) on scholars working with qualitative data? Analysis finds DA-RT insufficiently sensitive to the needs of qualitative data and focuses on four inter-related reasons why DA-RT needs to be revised before being widely adopted by political science journals: (1) space constraints that hinder full journal presentation of the analysis of qualitative data; (2) ethical concerns about protecting human subjects, and the time needed to prepare such data before publicly sharing them; (3) costs of data collection and the right of first usage; and (4) a potentially chilling effect of DA-RT on certain types of research topics. Analysis of the author’s own journey from econometric and survey analysis to narrative interviews with people in vulnerable situations, facing moral dilemmas, illustrates why DA-RT needs additional safeguards for qualitative data and methods. Given the increasing importance of qualitative data, and its ability to lend insight into critical political topics, the author argues that implementing the current version of the DA-RT initiative could hinder political science’s ability to address important political questions. Thus DA-RT must be modified to address the special needs of qualitative data.