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Book description

Whilst a great deal of progress has been made in recent decades, concerns persist about the course of the social sciences. Progress in these disciplines is hard to assess and core scientific goals such as discovery, transparency, reproducibility, and cumulation remain frustratingly out of reach. Despite having technical acumen and an array tools at their disposal, today's social scientists may be only slightly better equipped to vanquish error and construct an edifice of truth than their forbears – who conducted analyses with slide rules and wrote up results with typewriters. This volume considers the challenges facing the social sciences, as well as possible solutions. In doing so, we adopt a systemic view of the subject matter. What are the rules and norms governing behavior in the social sciences? What kinds of research, and which sorts of researcher, succeed and fail under the current system? In what ways does this incentive structure serve, or subvert, the goal of scientific progress?


Social science is simultaneously more successful and more troubled than ever before.  This welcome collection of essays, on different aspects of the social structure of social science, is helpful for understanding what's gone wrong and how we can do better.

Andrew Gelman - Professor of Statistics and Political Science, Columbia University

Many of society's biggest challenges and greatest opportunities depend on understanding social behavior. With such challenges in mind, contributors to this volume describe a systemic approach to social science knowledge production that is simultaneously level-headed and visionary. The book not only develops diverse and dynamic conceptions of what researchers can “know”, but also offers cogent advice about what institutions can do to increase the value of such knowledge. The stakes inherent in understanding human behavior are high. The service that social science can provide to society is great. For those who seek to contribute to society by energizing and advancing social science research, this book is a vital reference.

Arthur Lupia - Hal R Varian Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan

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