Social Sciences Category


Ethical Practices of Journal Editors

A voluntary Code of Conduct for journal editors now exists. Editors can affirm their support for the five points, which include refraining from coercive citation practices, keeping marketing strategies separate from the peer review process, encouraging data transparency, and communicating relevant ethical standards to the editorial board. One of the two editors that started the code, Steven Rogelberg of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (editor of Journal of Business and Psychology), said a letter in Science in February about coercive citation practices convinced him of the need for a code. Inside High Ed defines coercive citations as:

those that editors seek to add to authors’ pieces not because they are needed, but to make various journals appear more influential. Many people use various measures of journal influence that are based on counting how many times journals’ articles are cited — so extra citations yield a more influential journal.


Open Data for Historical Research: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

Culminating several decades of collaboration between researchers and archives spanning four continents, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database comprises the most comprehensive source of historical data on the slave trade, and is freely available over the Internet. The Voyages Database, its core tool, offers researchers an intuitively friendly interface for searching among nearly 35,000 discrete slave voyages undertaken between 1514 and 1866. Data points for individual voyages include things like: ship name; flag(s); owners; place(s) of slave purchase; place(s) of slave landing; numbers of slaves that died in transit; and much more.

Three ancillary databases provide estimates of the volume of trade for particular periods, regions, and itineraries; images of documents, maps, and illustrations; and the African names of individual slaves that were recorded for particular voyages. Additional resources include a series of interpretive essays by contributing scholars, and a set of lesson plans for the K-12 audience.

Access the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database at


Researchers Urged to Think Harder About Compiling and Sharing Data

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, June 22, 2009.

By Paul Basken

Data overload is creeping up on everyone, and research scientists are no exception. So it’s time, according to a report out today from the federally chartered National Academies, to think about what to do with all that data.

The report, “Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age,” calls on researchers, their universities, and publishers of academic journals to consider new policies for compiling, tracking, storing, and sharing data. Otherwise, the report says, the flood of data coming out of scientific research could be lost, misinterpreted, or misused.

As an example, the report’s authors—more than three dozen experts, mostly at research universities—suggest that scientists try harder to think of what data are relevant to their findings and then include that data in their published work.

Read on…


University Presses Find Strategies to Survive Economic Crisis

Jennifer Howard, University Presses Adopt a Variety of Strategies to Survive the Economic Downturn, Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 30, 2009


Low sales, high numbers of books returned, operating subsidies threatened by state and university budget cuts: As the economy slumps, those are just some of the problems that confront academic publishers. Overall sales for July 1 through December 31 were down nearly 10 percent compared with the same period in 2007, according to a recent survey by the Association of American University Presses. …

Talk to individual press directors and sales managers, however, and it becomes clear that the crisis does not look and feel the same for everyone. Some presses have felt a hard pinch. Several directors use euphemisms like “disappointing” to describe sales figures that are worse than they will acknowledge in public. But others are having decent, even good years, as tightly focused or broadly appealing lists keep them in the black. The best news for authors: So far no press has announced plans to cut back on the number of books it publishes.

At the University of Iowa Press, the director, Holly Carver, said she is still waiting for the first shoe to drop. “The tone is not doom and gloom,” Ms. Carver told TheChronicle. “We have a strong spring list, and we’re on budget, so we’re optimistic, even in flood-devastated Iowa.” (The state, including the university’s campus, was hit hard by floods last year.)

Ms. Carver believes that being “little and agile” — Iowa publishes 40 books a year with a staff of 7.5 — has helped. “We’re not overextended. We can work quicker and alter our budget or our print runs and projections more easily than a larger press can,” she said.

… A bit of luck (or good editorial judgment) doesn’t hurt, either. The Iowa press hit a home run in 2008 withSunday Afternoon on the Porch, a book of photos of a small Iowa town taken in the 1930s and early 1940s. The New York Times did a big spread, and Iowa public television has a show in the works.

“One or two decent-selling books for a university press our size can really made a world of difference, because we really do tend to sustain ourselves on backlist,” said Jim McCoy, the press’s director of marketing and sales.

He is “cautiously optimistic” that sales will remain good, at least in the short term, but “I’m seeing disturbing trends when I dig into the numbers,” he said. He worries about the future of bricks-and-mortar bookselling, for instance, whether at independent bookstores or at chains like Barnes & Noble — a fear shared by many of his counterparts, even though they see the benefits of reaching readers through online sales outlets such as

Mr. McCoy sees looming vulnerabilities in the library market, too, and he expects to see a drop-off there in the next six months to a year. “When state budgets finally catch up with the rest of the world,” he said, “then you’ll see academic libraries’ budgets starting to get cut, and that will affect everyone.”


New Open Access Search Tool for Economics

Economics Search Engine is Google custom search engine of 23,000 economics Web sites, including from RePEc. (Thanks to Open Access News).

From the ESE website:

ESE uses Google to search the contents of more than 23,000 economics web sites. They come from RFE, home pages reported by economists in RePec Author Services, andEDIRC. A Google Custom Search Engine searches these pages. As this technology is still in beta testing, the results might not be ideal. In particular, Google uses an approximation algorithm to search these sites.


ESE offers a “Search Plugin” for Internet Explorer 7.0 or FireFox 2.0 and 3.0 users. It allows you to initiate searches directly from a search box in your browser. You should be offered one for ESE when you check your search plugins.