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Debates about transparency standards in social science research often lack specificity, mischaracterize the status quo, or stress the value of replication. These debates frequently talk past each other and provide limited practical guidance for qualitative and multi-methods research. Focusing on text-based sources, we provide a review of qualitative research that identifies deficiencies in transparency practices, and advances a five-point framework for improving transparency premised on better specification of sources’ location, production, selection, analysis, and access. We next draw on a multi-year deliberative forum on qualitative transparency to identify researchers’ concerns about changing the status quo. We then showcase illustrative examples of enhanced transparency and conclude with recommendations for how to improve transparency practices for text-based sources. We argue that greater research transparency yields numerous benefits, including facilitating scholarly exchange, improving graduate training, and aiding knowledge cumulation. Rather than advancing replication, which may be undesirable for various qualitative research traditions, new transparency technologies are promising because they allow authors to more easily provide additional context, present complexity, and unpack relevant contradictions about politics.
Although protected areas (PAs) play an important role in ecosystem conservation and climate change adaptation, no systematic information is available on PA protection of high-elevation freshwater ecosystems (e.g., lakes and watersheds with glaciers), their biodiversity and their ecosystem services in the tropical Andes. We therefore combined a literature review and map analysis of PAs of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and national systems of PAs and freshwater ecosystems. We found that seven national parks were created for water resources protection but were not designed for freshwater conservation (i.e., larger watersheds). High-value biodiversity sites have not been protected, and new local PAs were created due to water resource needs. We quantified 31 Ramsar sites and observed that PAs cover 12% of lakes, 31% of glacial lakes and 12% of the total stream length in the tropical Andes. Additionally, 120 watersheds (average area 631 km2) with glaciers and 40% of the total glacier surface area were covered by PAs. Future research into the role of PAs in ecosystem services provision and more detailed freshwater inventories within and around PAs, especially for those dependent on glacier runoff, will fill key knowledge gaps for freshwater conservation and climate change adaptation in the tropical Andes.
In recent years, a variety of efforts have been made in political science to enable, encourage, or require scholars to be more open and explicit about the bases of their empirical claims and, in turn, make those claims more readily evaluable by others. While qualitative scholars have long taken an interest in making their research open, reflexive, and systematic, the recent push for overarching transparency norms and requirements has provoked serious concern within qualitative research communities and raised fundamental questions about the meaning, value, costs, and intellectual relevance of transparency for qualitative inquiry. In this Perspectives Reflection, we crystallize the central findings of a three-year deliberative process—the Qualitative Transparency Deliberations (QTD)—involving hundreds of political scientists in a broad discussion of these issues. Following an overview of the process and the key insights that emerged, we present summaries of the QTD Working Groups’ final reports. Drawing on a series of public, online conversations that unfolded at www.qualtd.net, the reports unpack transparency’s promise, practicalities, risks, and limitations in relation to different qualitative methodologies, forms of evidence, and research contexts. Taken as a whole, these reports—the full versions of which can be found in the Supplementary Materials—offer practical guidance to scholars designing and implementing qualitative research, and to editors, reviewers, and funders seeking to develop criteria of evaluation that are appropriate—as understood by relevant research communities—to the forms of inquiry being assessed. We dedicate this Reflection to the memory of our coauthor and QTD working group leader Kendra Koivu.1
The politics of public policy is a vibrant research area increasingly at the forefront of intellectual innovations in the discipline. We argue that political scientists are best positioned to undertake research on the politics of public policy when they possess expertise in particular policy areas. Policy expertise positions scholars to conduct theoretically innovative work and to ensure that empirical research reflects the reality they aim to analyze. It also confers important practical advantages, such as access to a significant number of academic positions and major sources of research funding not otherwise available to political scientists. Perhaps most importantly, scholars with policy expertise are equipped to defend the value of political science degrees and research in the public sphere.
Background: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a transitional state between normal aging and dementia. Identifying this condition would allow early interventions that may reduce the rate of progression to Alzheimer's disease (AD). We examined the efficacy of a six-month cognitive intervention program (CIP) in patients with MCI and to assess patients’ condition at one-year follow-up.
Methods: Forty-six MCI participants assessed with neuropsychological, neurological, neuropsychiatry, and functional procedures were included in this study and followed up during a year. The sample was randomized into two subgroups: 24 participants (the “trained group”) underwent the CIP during six months while 22 (control group) received no treatment. Sixteen participants dropped out of the study. The intervention focused on teaching cognitive strategies, cognitive training, and use of external aids, in sessions of two hours, twice per week for six months. Cognitive and functional measures were used as primary outcome and all were followed up at one year.
Results: The intervention effect (mean change from baseline) was significant (p < 0.05) on the Mini-Mental State Examination (1.74), the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (0.14), the Boston Naming Test (2.92), block design (−13.66), matrix reasoning (−3.07), and semantic fluency (−3.071) tasks. Four patients (one trained and three controls) progressed to dementia after one year of follow-up.
Conclusions: These results suggest that persons with MCI can improve their performance on cognitive and functional measures when provided with early cognitive training and it could persist in a long-term follow-up.