Sociological Science and the future of the qualitative sociology

This interesting reflection on Org Theory asks what the success of the innovative open access journal Sociological Science, which leans heavily towards quantitative sociology, means for the future of qualitative research within the intellectual landscape of the discipline. Read it in full here:

So I should start this post by first saying that I’m thrilled that Sociological Science exists. It is terrific that a group of folks did the hard work — and I imagine it’s been a lot — of putting together a high quality, open access journal that sidesteps the protracted review process we all love to hate, that evaluates quality rather than importance, and that values replication as a scientific contribution. I’ve been impressed by the caliber of the articles and love that they’re getting covered in places like Salon and Daily Kos.

In fact, it’s only because Soc Science has clearly been successful, and I think will become even more so in the future, that this is even worth bringing up: What does it mean for qualitative sociology?

Although the editorial board of Soc Science leans heavily quantitative, the journal explicitly states that it “does not privilege any particular theoretical or methodological approach.” And it has indeed published a qualitative article, the interview-based “So You Think You Can Dance? Lessons from the U.S. Private Equity Bubble,” by Catherine Turco and Ezra Zuckerman. But that’s one of 27 articles published to date. (Apologies if I’m missing any.)

For those not familiar with the journal, it takes a proactive approach to addressing some of the many difficulties which plague academic publishing. In this sense, it’s an incredibly exciting project and should be celebrated. But for those who work at an intellectual distance from Sociological Science, it’s hard not to share the concerns that Elizabeth Popp Berman outlines in the Org Theory article.

Sociological Science is an open-access, online, peer-reviewed, international journal for social scientists committed to advancing a general understanding of social processes. Sociological Science welcomes original research and commentary from all subfields of sociology, and does not privilege any particular theoretical or methodological approach. It is:

  • Open access: Accepted works are freely available, and authors retain copyright
  • Timely: Sociological Science will make editorial decisions within 30 days; accepted works appear online immediately upon receipt of final version
  • Evaluative, not developmental: Rather than focus on identifying potential areas for improvement in a submission, editors focus on judging whether the submission as written makes a rigorous and thoughtful contribution to sociological knowledge
  • Concise: Sociological Science encourages a high ratio of novel ideas and insights to written words
  • A community: The journal’s online presence is intended as a forum for commentary and debate aimed at advancing sociological knowledge and bringing into the open conversations that usually occur behind the scenes between authors and reviewers

Sociological Science is published by the Society for Sociological Science, a non-profit organization.

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