Like many social scientists, we take it almost as an article of faith that scientific methods will advance our knowledge about how the world works. The growing use by social scientists of strong research designs — for example, randomized controlled experiments or natural experiments — increases the reliability of causal claims in individual studies. Yet building scientific knowledge across studies is much more difficult than many acknowledge. As The Economist has recently summarized, if science is based on a principle of “trust but verify,” there is a growing realization that there is too much “trust” and not enough “verify.”
What can be done about this?
One potential solution is to change the incentives researchers face, in part by funding new research in a manner that requires replication. If incentives are improved, important studies can be replicated across contexts, and enough scholars may be willing to build in additional research time to coordinate across studies such that their work better contributes to the accumulation of knowledge. This is exactly what the Experiments in Governance and Politics (EGAP) network, in conjunction with UC Berkeley’s Center on the Politics of Development (CPD), is attempting to do as it pilots its first research “regranting” round. EGAP is now soliciting proposals on a focused question from researchers around the world, with a goal of making four to six awards, each within the $200,000-$300,000 range.
The deadline for submitting proposals is June 16, 2014.
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