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Takeaways: MZES Open Social Science Conference

Takeaways from the MZES 2019 conference, written by Research Data Archivist Mandy Gooch

In January, the Odum Institute Archive team attended the MZES Open Social Science Conference in Mannheim, Germany. Even with the cold temperatures and a bit of snow, Germany is a beautiful country and Mannheim had so many gorgeous places to see. And, of course, lots of food to try – especially at the many bakeries. But, on to the conference itself!

Checking out a cathedral during a quick excursion to Cologne.

The Conference

A little background: this was the first MZES Open Social Science Conference and was conceived by like-minded social science researchers from various institutions as a way to bring those interested in or actively promoting open science together to discuss the benefits, impacts, and future within social science research and its scholarly landscape.

For a three-day conference, there was a lot of material to cover, but each presentation was selected to provide insight into the ways in which open science practices are being utilized. Arthur Lupia kicked off the event with a great keynote titled “It’s Up to Us – Transparency and the Public Value of Science,” which emphasized the value of transparent research practices and the various efforts such as DA-RT and TOP Guidelines to help incentivize and promote transparency. And from there the presentations took off, covering a variety of topics such as publication bias, open science tools and technologies like Jupyter Notebooks, and the results of a crowdsourced replication effort.

A Focus on Reproducibility

One of the major topics of the conference was reproducibility, which is one of the main focuses of the Odum Institute and a service we currently provide for two political science journals. There were continuous discussions throughout the conference about the journal verification service we provide, our workflow, and the benefits and impact that this requirement has had on the scholarly community.

A bright street in Cologne brightening up a gray day.

It was fascinating to hear from researchers about their own workflows and to field their questions about how we support reproducibility at the Odum Institute. We also had discussions with journal editors about our own experiences with assisting journals in implementing data verification policies – providing them with more information about the considerations and guidelines that would need to be in place in order to support the verification workflow.

The conference wrapped up with a BITSS-MZES workshop on research transparency and reproducibility. This full-day workshop offered attendees the opportunity to learn more about transparent and reproducible research workflows. There was an introduction to creating dynamic documents using Stata Dynamic Documents, R Markdown, or Jupyter Notebooks. The workshop wrapped up with a session on de-identification for open data and data management best practices for researchers.

In Conclusion

Obviously, I’ve skimmed over a lot of the specifics of the event, but the schedule is available on the MZES Open Social Science 2019 website and as a bonus, the entire conference was recorded so you can watch each session. They have also provided copies of all the presentation slides and any corresponding papers.

Overall, we made quite a few connections and had some wonderful discussions about the future of open science. It is exciting to hear from so many researchers about their passion for open and transparent research. The Odum Institute Archive will continue to support and promote open science as we move forward with our own research and develop our reproducibility-related services.

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