Transparent Social Inquiry: Implications for Political Science

Colin Elman, Diana Kapiszewski, Arthur Lupia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Political scientists use diverse methods to study important topics. The findings they reach and conclusions they draw can have significant social implications and are sometimes controversial. As a result, audiences can be skeptical about the rigor and relevance of the knowledge claims that political scientists produce. For these reasons, being a political scientist means facing myriad questions about how we know what we claim to know. Transparency can help political scientists address these questions. An emerging literature and set of practices suggest that sharing more data and providing more information about our analytic and interpretive choices can help others understand the rigor and relevance of our claims. At the same time, increasing transparency can be costly and has been contentious. This review describes opportunities created by, and difficulties posed by, attempts to increase transparency. We conclude that, despite the challenges, consensus about the value and practice of transparency is emerging within and across political science's diverse and dynamic research communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-47
Number of pages19
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - May 11 2018


  • data sharing
  • openness
  • replication
  • research ethics
  • social inquiry
  • transparency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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