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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13034.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMON METRICS FOR ADVANCING SOCIAL SCIENCE THEORY AND RESEARCH

A Workshop Summary

Rose Maria Li, Rapporteur

Committee on Advancing Social Science Theory: The Importance of Common Metrics

Committee on Social Science Evidence for Use

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13034.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by contract number 2008-2146 between the National Academy of Sciences and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project.

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Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2011). The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Rose Maria Li, Rapporteur. Committee on Advancing Social Science Theory: The Importance of Common Metrics. Committee on Social Science Evidence for Use. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13034.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine


The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.


The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.


The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.


The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.


www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13034.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13034.
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COMMITTEE ON ADVANCING SOCIAL SCIENCE THEORY: THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMON METRICS

George W. Bohrnstedt (Chair),

American Institutes for Research, Palo Alto, California

Norman M. Bradburn,

National Opinion Research Center and University of Chicago

Nancy D. Cartwright,

London School of Economics and Political Science and University of California, San Diego

Harris Cooper,

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University

Robert M. Hauser,

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council, Washington, DC, and

Vilas Research Professor,

Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Robert A. Pollak,

John M. Olin School of Business, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

Barbara Schneider,

College of Education, Michigan State University

Miron L. Straf, Study Director

Mary Ann Kasper, Senior Program Assistant

Rose Maria Li, Rapporteur

Dorothy Majewski, Administrative Assistant

Christina Maranto, Mirzayan Fellow

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13034.
×

COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL SCIENCE EVIDENCE FOR USE

Kenneth Prewitt (Chair),

School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York

George W. Bohrnstedt,

American Institutes for Research, Palo Alto, California

Norman M. Bradburn,

National Opinion Research Center and University of Chicago

Alicia Carriquiry,

Department of Statistics, Iowa State University

Nancy D. Cartwright,

London School of Economics and Political Science and University of California, San Diego

Harris Cooper,

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University

Michael J. Farrell,

New York City Police Department

Stephen E. Fienberg,

Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University

Sheila Jasanoff,

Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Robert L. Jervis,

Columbia University, New York

Robert E. Litan,

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Ann Morning,

Department of Sociology, New York University

Robert A. Pollak,

John M. Olin School of Business, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

Stephen H. Schneider (Deceased July 2010),

Stanford University

Thomas A. Schwandt,

Department of Educational Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Sidney Verba,

Pforzheimer University

Professor,

Emeritus, Department of Government, Harvard University

Miron L. Straf, Study Director

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13034.
×

Preface

In February 2010, the National Research Council (NRC) convened a workshop to investigate the feasibility of developing well-grounded common metrics to advance behavioral and social science research, both in terms of advancing the development of theory and increasing the utility of research for policy and practice. A planning committee was appointed by the NRC’s Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (DBASSE) to organize the event, structure the sessions, select the participants, and ensure that the workshop would address the variety of research methods and data sets.

The workshop would not have been possible without the generous support and leadership provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Marshall S. Smith, while at Hewlett, proposed the topic of common metrics as one in need of exploration. We are especially grateful to the planning committee members and other experts who responded to our request for background papers: Norman M. Bradburn, National Opinion Research Center and the University of Chicago; Nancy D. Cartwright, London School of Economics and University of California, San Diego; Dennis Fryback, University of Wisconsin, Madison; David B. Grusky, Stanford University; Robert M. Hauser, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council, Washington, DC, and Vilas Research Professor, Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Rick Hoyle, Duke University; Robert T. Michael, University of Chicago; Geoff Mulgan, The Young Foundation; Robert A. Pollak, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri; C. Matthew Snipp, Stanford University; John Robert Warren,

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13034.
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University of Minnesota; and Robert J. Willis, University of Michigan. Their papers provided a substantive context for the discussions that took place at the workshop.

We also thank the many other people who participated as presenters, panelists, and discussants: Christine A. Bachrach, Duke University and University of Maryland; Kathleen A. Cagney, University of Chicago; Harris Cooper, Duke University; Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard University; Rebecca A. Maynard, University of Pennsylvania; Kenneth Prewitt, Columbia University; Barbara Schneider, Michigan State University; and Jack E. Triplett, Brookings Institution.

In the preparation of this workshop summary, we thank Rose Maria Li, who acted as rapporteur. In addition, Mary Lou Rife was helpful in the drafting of one of the chapters, and Christine McShane provided expert editing services for this report.

For a fuller list of sources on the topic than is included in this report, see the papers presented at the workshop: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/dbasse/Workshop_on_Common_Metrics_Agenda.html. For later versions of the papers, readers should contact the authors or look for a separate volume of the papers that is in preparation for submission to a university press.

This workshop summary has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: George W. Bohrnstedt, Research Division, American Institutes for Research; David S. Johnson, Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division, U.S. Census Bureau; and Howard J. Silver, Director’s Office, Consortium of Social Science Associations.

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Cora B. Marrett, acting deputy director, National Science Foundation. Appointed by the NRC, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review elements were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the author and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13034.
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We also gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Dorothy Majewski, administrative assistant; Mary Ann Kasper, senior program assistant; Kirsten Sampson Snyder, senior report review officer; Christine Maranto, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow; Catherine Freeman, who, as initial study director, helped in the development of the workshop; and Michael J. Feuer, former executive director of the NRC’s DBASSE, for his leadership and support.


George W. Bohrnstedt, Chair

Miron L. Straf, Study Director

Committee on Advancing Social Science

Theory: The Importance of Common Metrics

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2011. The Importance of Common Metrics for Advancing Social Science Theory and Research: A Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13034.
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In February 2010, the National Research Council convened a workshop to investigate the feasibility of developing well-grounded common metrics to advance behavioral and social science research, both in terms of advancing the development of theory and increasing the utility of research for policy and practice.

The Workshop on Advancing Social Science Theory: The Importance of Common Metrics had three goals:

  • To examine the benefits and costs involved in moving from metric diversity to greater standardization, both in terms of advancing the development of theory and increasing the utility of research for policy and practice.
  • To consider whether a set of criteria can be developed for understanding when the measurement of a particular construct is ready to be standardized.
  • To explore how the research community can foster a move toward standardization when it appears warranted.

This book is a summary of the two days of presentations and discussions that took place during the workshop.

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