open access sociology (or, publishing doesn’t need paywalls and doesn’t have to take forever)


Yesterday, Sociological Science published my new paper, co-authored with Ellen Berrey, The Partial Deinstitutionalization of Affirmative Action in U.S. Higher Education, 1988 to 2014. The paper is largely descriptive and the most important result is above – we show that lots of selective schools voluntarily abandoned their public commitments to the consideration of race in admissions, but not the most elite schools. Beyond that, we show that most of this decline cannot be directly attributed to state-level bans on the practice (85% of schools abandoning were not covered by such bans). In 1994, 60% of selective schools considered race; by 2014, just 35% did. Here, I want to briefly describe how the paper came into existence as a way to plug some of the new, open access routes to circulating work and publishing that have the potential to address some of sociology’s woes.

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sunday morning sociology, end of the summer edition


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A new working paper quantifies the effect of the famous HOLC redlining maps, finding that ratings led to significant demographic changes. Image from the NYT here, Chicago Magazine offers another take here.

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This scatterplot feature is co-produced with Mike Bader.

Continue reading “sunday morning sociology, end of the summer edition”

bad behavior, secrecy, duplication, science

I’ve been mulling over Phil Cohen’s insistence that there is a serious problem with reviewer malfeasance, specifically in using the anonymity of peer review to prevent the publication of work that would encroach on the reviewer’s “turf.”  My first response was that Phil must be exaggerating, or in a bad field. But then I remembered that I do know for sure of one case in which someone I know did everything they could to block funding for and the success of a project with a similar research idea and methodology–but different data–to their own. And then, as I think about it, I know of another pocket of cases in which senior people published their own work on several related variations of topic X even though they had commented on and thus knew of prior working papers by graduate students on that topic and did not even have the grace to cite those prior papers, much less cede the turf to the people who had originated the research ideas. Is this kind of behavior as common as Phil seems to think it is? And, if so, what ought we to do about it? Continue reading “bad behavior, secrecy, duplication, science”

guest post: should you go to grad school?

The following is a guest post by Daniel Laurison.

My first answer is read Tim Burke’s essay (where his short answer is “no”).

And then read Tressie McMillan Cottom’s essay on what’s wrong with blanket “don’t go to grad school” advice. That will link you to a series of tweets by Sandy Darity on why maybe you should go to grad school.

And then if you want, read this. My short answer is, it depends on who you are and what you want to get out of it.

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sunday morning sociology, race and collective memory edition

A timeline of Confederate monuments, from the SPLC via Politics Outdoors

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This scatterplot feature is co-produced with Mike Bader.

We here at scatterplot have run out of clever this week. Links below the cut.

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sunday morning sociology, asa edition!

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A new inequality chart from the NYT, showing how recent income gains have been distributed very differently from those in the past.

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This scatterplot feature is co-produced with Mike Bader.

As a reminder, sociology blogger types will be meeting up in Montreal today(!) from 4-7pm at Le Vieux Dublin for the annual blogger party! Some snacks (and buttons!) will be provided by SocArXiv. Hope to see you there. Now, here’s some links.

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the demonstrated interests of the rich

If you’ve followed affirmative action debates at all over the past decade or two, you’ve probably heard something about legacy preferences in admissions. Legacy admissions are routinely described as “affirmative action for whites” and their legitimacy is at least a little contested, and are held up as a key example of how college admissions are not and have never been purely about academic merit. And they are that indeed. But they are by no means the only example. Another one, perhaps of growing importance, is what colleges call “demonstrated interest.” Demonstrated interest means showing specific interest in attending that school by contacting admissions officers, visiting the school, and so on. Two new papers emphasize the importance of demonstrated interest in an era when high-achieving students routinely apply to 10 or more schools, frustrating enrollment managers. But, of course, demonstrated interest is not equally available to everyone.

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on sharing work in progress and anonymity

I got involved in a debate over at orgtheory about the pluses and minuses of putting working papers on line at SocArXiv (or elsewhere). That debate was tangled up with a variety of issues around the proposal to require public posting of papers that win (or are submitted to) section paper award competitions.

In this post I want to avoid that tangle of other issues and open discussion/debate on the narrower question of whether the discipline of sociology as a field should do all it can to move toward the model of other fields, where working papers are routinely placed on public archives before they go through peer review for ultimate publication.

The sociology model as it is generally practiced involves writing a paper, presenting it at conferences and circulating drafts of it around for a year or more, submitting it to a journal, going through several iterations of rejections and R&Rs, and finally getting it published maybe 4 or 5 years after it the work was originally done. In the meantime, some people (those you were at conferences with or to whom you sent the paper) know about the work, while others working in the same area may not know about it and thus will not cite it or be influenced by it, junior scholars worry that their work will be scooped by a more senior person who gets the idea from a circulating PDF or as an anonymous reviewer, and knowledge as a whole bogs down.

The alternative model practiced in many fields is: (1) Do the work and present it at conferences as the work evolves.  Be known as the person/team working on problem X because you have talked about it at multiple conferences. (2) Post a working paper on ArXiv or SSRN etc. as soon as you think  you have something to report. (3) Other people cite and debate your work based on the ArXiv or SSRN etc version. If it is wrong it gets called out and fixed. If it is novel and correct, you get invited to more conferences to discuss it and you learn about the work others are doing in the same field. (4) Your paper slogs its way through peer review and ultimately gets published; then you link to the published version from the working paper site.  Continue reading “on sharing work in progress and anonymity”

sunday morning sociology, affirmative action edition


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Legacy admissions, which are not remotely racially neutral, have more support than considering race in admissions. From this WaPo piece on racial politics in the Trump administration and the renewed assault on affirmative action. Caveat: Polling on affirmative action is very sensitive to question wording, though within a given wording attitudes have been shockingly stable over time, see e.g. GSS.

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This scatterplot feature is co-produced with Mike Bader.

Continue reading “sunday morning sociology, affirmative action edition”

economics 1980 vs. economics 2015

Economic sociology got its modern start by criticizing 1970s-era economics. And, to be fair, there was a lot to criticize – too much perfect markets, perfect competition, perfect information, consistent self-interested preferences, and all that jazz. I worry, though, that economic sociology still hasn’t updated enough to where economics is now. On the one hand, we have the rise of applied microeconomics which is barely indistinguishable from parts of quantitative sociology (compare, say, field experiments on discrimination in the two fields and tell me what’s really different). And on the other, all of those theoretical maneuvers sociologists rightly criticized have, at a minimum, been considered and modified here or there. Well economics of the 1970s may have been a target, I think economics now can and should be much more of a fellow traveler.

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join me at brown!

The Department of Sociology at Brown is running a junior-level search for a scholar who studies social inequality broadly construed, including (but not limited to) inequalities structured by income, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and disability. The full text of the ad is below the cut. If you are interested in meeting with someone from the faculty at ASA to learn more about the department or the position, please contact Amanda Figgins to arrange an appointment.

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