Designing Systems for the Co-Production of Public Knowledge: Considerations for National Statistical Systems

I am pleased to say that “Designing Systems for the Co-Production of Public Knowledge: Considerations for National Statistical Systems,” written with Derrick Anderson of Arizona State, is now forthcoming at Policy Design and Practice. PDP is a new journal from Taylor & Francis. Here’s the abstract:

The functions of government are increasingly complex and information-driven. However, for many developing countries, the quality of information is poor and the consequences of that information poverty are substantial. If the goal is to establish or advance effective systems of government – in terms of formulating or implementing public policies by laws or rules – we have to consider how the design process can help attain that goal through improved information, data and evidence. National statistics are problems of governance, knowledge and design. While governments are primary users of national statistical systems, national statistical capacity is jointly determined because without contributions from non-state actors there is little hope of observing accurate data that expresses important social, economic and natural phenomena in any state – but especially so in failed, transitioning or struggling states. This paper discusses several findings from research studies for those who design and implement systems that collect, disseminate and interpret government statistics. These findings are derived from the literature on the co-production of public knowledge. The growth of complex, high dimensional data, accompanied by calls for investment in “big data” technologies and methods, will change how we collect and interpret data in many countries. Yet, our most important data enterprises are built on a human infrastructure with prospects that are both limited and supported by social factors. Organizations themselves must expend resources to navigate a world in which data is growing at exponential rates. But organizations are constrained and enabled by broader aspects of society that go well beyond government’s role in collecting, processing, and disseminating statistical data. As we discuss, one notable example is the relative presence of general purpose information technologies.

Please contact me or Derrick if you’d like a prepublication copy.

John Gaus Award nominations sought

Along with Kelly Leroux of the University of Illinois, Chicago (Committee Chair) and Jill Nicholson-Crotty of Indiana University, I am serving on the APSA John Gaus Award Committee. The John Gaus Award is one of APSA’s ten career awards. We welcome nominations!

The John Gaus Award and Lectureship honors the recipient’s lifetime of exemplary scholarship in the joint tradition of political science and public administration and, more generally, recognizes and encourages scholarship in public administration. The award carries a $2,000 prize and the recipient delivers a lecture at the APSA Annual Meeting.

The deadline for nominations from individuals is Monday, February 12, 2018. Nominations are made online through an electronic form. Please submit at this link:

Books worth citing

I’m starting a new series of posts here at Public Management Research for promoting books that I think are under-cited. Some are in public administration; some are from outside the discipline. Maybe it’s just a way for me to remember books that have had outsized impact on my career. 

A useful tool for project management

It’s hard to manage complex research projects – especially if those involving multiple collaborators. It’s even hard managing solo projects if only because most of us have multiple ongoing obligations. 

I’ve used Slack for a while now for managing my projects. It’s mostly known in the coding world for those running Agile design and production strategies but it can be useful for any sort of project, including keeping track of ideas for classes.

I use the channels feature to create a private channel for each project. Some are for me alone; others are shared with collaborators. It’s like a stream of ideas, links, duties, and other ephemera that persists – unlike the stuff that goes to die in my email. 

I also use Hangouts or Evernote when they’re useful. But Hangouts is really one channel per collaborator so projects are mixed. And Evernote seems more useful as a notebook or wiki. Both have purposes but neither duplicates Slack. 

Comments are closed but feel free to send your suggestions about tools like Slack via Twitter at @abwhitford. 

The end of gatekeepers?

Been Thompson wrote this on Stratechery this week:

… the end of gatekeepers is inevitable. The Internet provides abundance, not scarcity, and power flows from discovery, not distribution. We can regret the change or relish it, but we cannot halt it: best to get on with making it work for far more people than gatekeepers ever helped – or harrassed.

Most of his post is about current events or Netflix or other things, but his general point is interesting for academic publishing. The rise of Open Access and other models suggests that whatever we think academic publishing will look like in 20 years is probably wrong. 

What are the implications of such changes for how we disseminate knowledge? What will our models be in 20 years? 

Here’s a prediction: Google will dominate. Take that as a starting point and these implications follow:

  • Impact factors will be less important than Google metrics. 
  • If multiple channels affect Google metrics, authors will focus on multiple channels.
  • If publishing on platforms affects those metrics, platforms will become more important. 
  • If “wildcat” channels affect Google metrics, channels will proliferate.

Those are just few ideas. Comments are closed but please feel free to respond on Twitter at @abwhitford.