It is a bit of a cliché to point out that the process of generating, reporting and reviewing social science research has dramatically changed in the past couple of decades.
In particular, the Internet of course has revolutionized how scholars communicate their research findings. A typical scholar’s research findings now are available, at least in principle, in real time to a global audience. But factors such as the highly diffuse nature of social media and the challenges posed by pay-walls can make it daunting for scholars to get the attention of these broader global audiences either in the academic community or the general public. Nevertheless, there is clearly a growing appetite on the part of the public and the “media”, which in itself has become radically transformed, to communicate this rich body of information on political, social and economic behaviour. Hence it has become extremely important for social scientists to have access to media that facilitate public access, in real time, to their research findings. There have been a number of outstanding efforts in this regard – examples include The Monkey Cage, which is now part of the Washington Post, and The Upshot which is published by the New York Times. Outlets such as these have performed an invaluable service to the social science community and to the general public.
The mission of The Plot is to build on the success of these important venues for social science research. We hope to complement the existing social science blogosphere in two ways: First, The Plot provides an outlet for a very broad global perspective on social science research. While political science, and related fields, have an increasingly visible presence on the Internet, we think there is an opportunity to broaden this visibility by better engaging scholars from all regions of the globe. Second, The Plot will be a vehicle by which political science and related fields can address professional concerns specifically related to the advancement of the scholarly disciplines. There is a need for the social sciences to actively highlight their contributions to education, science and public policy but also to advocate policies that will advance teaching and research. We see The Plot as facilitating these goals.
Contributors and partners
The primary mission of The Plot will be to solicit postings on the diverse range of current research findings in the social sciences. Our team of editors will reach out to a broad network of social scientists and encourage them to submit postings. We also are working closely with academic publishers in order to ensure a broad Internet exposure for their authors of journal articles and books. In addition, a number of leading Universities and Research Institutes have expressed interest in affiliating with The Plot as a venue for promoting their contributions to research and scholarship. Our commitment to these partners is to share the scholarship they are generating with as broad an audience as possible.
European social science has made very significant advances over the past couple of decades. The Plot would like to provide social scientists with a resource that keeps them informed in a very timely fashion of developments and opportunities in their professions. There will be frequent postings focusing on important developments in social science – these could be analytic posts that describe important trends in the professions. An example here might be changes in how academic staff in European post-secondary institutions is being evaluated and promoted over the course of their careers. But we also want to be a resource for identifying opportunities for research scholars throughout European social science – this could be as simple as posting all funding calls from National science foundations along with those from the European Union or other regional governmental bodies.
Advancing serious and rigorous social science education is another primary goal for The Plot. Our interest at The Plot is providing both students and educators with a unique source of information on developments in social science education throughout the world. We have an editor dedicated to assembling and disseminating timely postings of announcements regarding social science education. And The Plot will be a forum for discussions regarding education issues and policies.
A particularly important goal of The Plot is to promote rigor, transparency and ethics in social science research. The Plot has a dedicated replications and data editor who will solicit regular replication postings from the scholarly community. Our intention here is to engage the scholarly community in interesting conversations about existing data and published findings. We see The Plot contributing to a world of social science in which published findings from research represent the point of departure for a conversation about data that are made available to scholars in a timely and transparent fashion.
Social science has an important role to play in helping the general public understand current affairs. The Plot is committed to providing the public with accessible, but rigorous and scientific, assessments of current issues and events. Our goal is to enlist postings on important current affairs from leading social scientists.
The manner in which scholars communicate their findings and the breadth and diversity of their audience has changed dramatically with the growth of the Internet. The Plot’s mission is to facilitate this communication by scholars throughout the world – our home is in Europe but we see our remit as facilitating this communication by scholars from all corners of the world.
The Plot is published with the support of the European Political Science Association (EPSA) and Cambridge University Press