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Corruption is widely believed to negatively affect economic growth Social protection has attracted increasing interest in developing countries in recent decades and policies have been initiated in all developing regions Why is there so little industry in Africa?


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Does it matter? What can be done about it? Tax, and public-sector matters more generally, is high on the agenda of international development. When Gunnar Myrdal published his magnum opus, Asian Drama: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations , in , he was deeply pessimistic about the development prospects in Asia He was deeply pessimistic about development prospects in Asia Over the past 20 years, researchers have been looking at the economic lifecycle of individuals around the world using National Transfer Accounts NTA data In , Asia accounted for two-thirds of world population and over half of world income.

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The subsequent decline of Asia was attributable to its integration with a world economy shaped by colonialism and driven by imperialism Building knowledge about migration governance and policy in the Global South is a priority for research and policy Creating, strengthening, and sharing knowledge for development Over the period —23 UNU-WIDER research will focus on the interlinked development challenges of transforming economies, states, and societies.

These transformations are central Research and policy briefs Evidence-based policymaking is crucial. Use our publications search to browse nearly briefs which highlight the findings and policy implications of our research. Visit our YouTube channel Want to catch up on our recent events? Click here to visit us on YouTube. Filter by Reset all. Type Blog. Closing date: 18 December Policy Brief.

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Seminar WeiWei Chen on the political economy of Chinese private investment in Ethiopia 20 November — Owing to recent advances in computer technology, we are entering a world in which technology blurs distinctions between images, voices, and videos created in the moment and those altered after the fact. Already, artificial intelligence has enabled the creation of realistic photographs of nonexistent people.

Computer scientists can engineer voices that sound exactly like specific, real individuals. Fake video is on the horizon.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what will happen when policymakers and social scientists cannot authenticate photographs, audio recordings, or videos? No single party can resolve the challenges in data authentication or unilaterally protect the integrity of information. Indeed, the problems are not just technical; they also raise questions about the accessibility of information, the tradeoffs of data protection, and other ethical matters that require technology companies to work with academics and policymakers. While the IRB process focuses on important but fairly narrow dimensions of informed consent see box 3 , a broader consideration of ethics is needed to guide the next generation of research on human subjects in the academy and other sectors.

One challenge of the traditional method is that informed consent fails to address power dynamics between researcher and subject, the potential for unintended uses and consequences of research findings, and ethical questions inherent in new forms of social data. For example, unequal power dynamics between researchers and vulnerable populations complicate simple calculations of consent. Further, new technologies raise deep concerns over privacy, with respect to the collection and analysis of large amounts of personal data.

The growing use and sophistication of experimental methods—in which customers, platform users, and others become research subjects—raise further questions about consent and ethics. If social scientists are to fulfill their hopes of accessing new data to work on social issues of public importance, a wider and more complex discussion of ethical research practices is required. The Task Force encourages new initiatives to rethink the ethical compact that governs social science research. More broadly, it calls for collaboration between university researchers, IRBs, federal regulators, and private companies to create ethical guidelines and privacy protections appropriate to contemporary social science.

The IRB has traditionally focused on the principle of informed consent, which has served as a useful model for biomedical research. Recent proposals have suggested changes to the Common Rule that would simplify compliance for many social scientists. New initiatives have begun to address some of these issues. The peer-review system for evaluating and disseminating scholarly research has been an indispensable component of the knowledge infrastructure.

But it has come under strain in recent years due to the digital revolution, changes within the publishing industry, and intensified publication pressures from within the academy.

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Working together, academics, scholarly societies, and publishers, along with funding organizations, urgently need to develop mechanisms to uphold quality while fashioning criteria and incentives that could better serve both scholars and the public. Blind peer review by scholars and editors continues to be the gold standard for research evaluation, but the system is far from perfect. As an example, a recent study found that women researchers are less likely to be selected as reviewers. The number of researchers worldwide is rising at a rate of about 4 percent per year. Many high-quality journals and academic presses have already opened discussions about criteria for publishing decisions.

A central question involves how to value and elevate research results beyond those perceived as most original, counterintuitive, or intriguing, which the current system privileges. These criteria can provide incentives for cherry picking results, thereby misrepresenting the actual state of knowledge on a particular research topic. Such priorities also undervalue the importance of confirming results and null findings. The increasing quantity of submissions has another consequence: the slow pace of reviewing and publishing papers. The Task Force encourages new experiments that seek to increase the availability of social science findings and to rethink the criteria and processes for reviewing quality in the social sciences see box 4.

Given the importance of the private sector in social research, these experiments should include company-based researchers in efforts to develop transparent standards, processes, and norms for research quality and methods. Several promising initiatives have experimented with accessible publishing strategies. The Public Library of Science PLOS has pioneered a project that establishes a bar for accuracy and basic quality in order to make more work available freely and quickly.

Another model, of which perhaps the best-known example is the working paper series of the National Bureau of Economic Research NBER , involves posting research papers prior to publication. Another dimension of social science infrastructure concerns advanced research training, which has not sufficiently adapted to the ways in which social science skills intersect with labor markets.

As the private sector has increased its share of funding for social research, the need for researchers with relevant skills has grown. As a result, newly trained social scientists have access to a markedly lower number of full-time, tenure-track positions. Part-time teaching positions marked by low pay and few benefits, in which women and minority scholars are overrepresented, have become far more prominent, and expectations for faculty in these positions rarely emphasize research.

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At the same time, computational skills have never been so highly valued in the job market. Much of the knowledge economy depends on socially relevant data, and information technology firms seek out job candidates with such experience. The nonprofit sector and government similarly look for employees with quantitative and other research skills, while design and marketing firms have increasingly identified the importance of social science methods such as ethnography.

Despite the demand for computational abilities across a number of sectors, digital literacy of various kinds is sometimes peripheral to academic training in the social sciences.


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  • Of course, training varies by discipline, and some social science fields, such as economics, provide these skills as core components of doctoral training. But in some disciplines, digital literacy is not central to graduate work, and students must seek out ways to get such experience. But few graduate training programs prioritize exposure to these skills.

    In addition to a skills mismatch, another structural problem that has left research training out of sync with employment markets involves the way in which doctoral programs prepare students for career paths. A common complaint among graduate students and potential employers is that many doctoral programs mold students for only one career track—tenure-track faculty positions at research-intensive universities. One challenge in many disciplines is that departments lack information about the array of potential careers available to social science PhDs see box 5.

    Greater collaboration between the private sector, academia, and professional organizations could improve the alignment of research training with the skills needed for careers in a range of relevant fields. The Task Force recognizes that the barriers for increasing workloads on already stressed graduate students and overworked advisors are not to be underestimated. Nonetheless, improving mentoring at all stages in the research training pipeline can help integrate technical, teamwork, administrative, and translational expertise into graduate social science research programs.

    Many academic departments have already recognized the need to prepare doctoral students for nonacademic career tracks. However, implementing this goal has proven more challenging. One obstacle involves knowing where graduates eventually find employment in the first place. More effort is needed to more purposefully prepare students to enter career paths in and out of the academy, and this will entail greater engagement between higher education, professional associations, and prospective employers. The To Secure Knowledge Task Force has emphasized the urgent need to create a new institutional infrastructure supporting social science research and the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration to meet this challenge.

    But too often, the role and significance of social science are not fully understood. We encourage social scientists to take up the challenge of communicating with research partners and the public at large about the rigorous processes of knowledge creation and the conditions under which social knowledge can be used in policy and practice. We are confident that crafting a new research compact can help harness the current potential of the social sciences to improve human lives. The most central component of a new research compact involves forging collaborations across all parts of the institutional infrastructure that produce, use, and care about social knowledge.

    The Task Force recommends that the SSRC help create these new connections and partnerships by building on current experiments that show the potential to reinvent a robust and effective research compact. Notwithstanding persisting assaults on the conditions necessary to protect knowledge, we are convinced that key pathways and means to secure knowledge lie within our grasp. October Annotated outline produced and reviewed; presented at College and University Fund Conference. November Initial presentation with Executive Directors of social science disciplinary associations. November and December Individual conversations with Task Force members.

    December 15, Full meeting of Task Force to discuss structure of report and writing assignments. April Subsequent presentation with Executive Directors of social science disciplinary associations. June and July Comments on draft received from members and a wide range of invited reviewers.

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    We would also like to thank the following colleagues for their thoughtful comments and guidance in the writing of this report:. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University.


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    • John H. Naomi Lamoreaux, Stanley B. Mary Bridges provided editorial support and Erika Olbey oversaw the design. The Task Force endorses and supports current efforts to protect the integrity of the census and the federal statistical system from political interference. For the purpose of this report, social knowledge refers to understandings of human behavior and social structures generated by professional researchers and scientists using advanced training, technical skills, and critical reasoning to push the frontiers of their fields and to promote the public good.