Second call for bilateral research activities between Switzerland and Subsaharan Africa (S-SAM) now open

The second call for bilateral research activities between Switzerland and Subsaharan Africa (S-SAM) is now open.

We call upon late PhD and early postdoctoral researchers from Subsaharan Africa or from Switzerland to submit proposals for short pilot studies or academic exchanges.

Objective
The objective of the Swiss Subsaharan Africa Migration (S-SAM) network is to build and strengthen long-term partnerships between migration researchers in Subsaharan Africa and Switzerland.

Your Profile
You are at the transition from PhD to established researcher: either a late PhD (typically last year), or early postdoctoral researcher (typically first or second year). You are embedded in a university in a Subsaharan African country or in Switzerland, and study human migration. You have an excellent track record, an innovative idea, and are interested in academic exchange and working towards a joint project.

Topics
Within the large field of human migration, we are in particular interested in projects concerning aspects of migration to Europe before migrants reach their destination. This includes the following topics:

— Reasons and motivations to migrate. Here we seek novel research on aspirations and abilities to migrate, on the nature of different ‘pull’ effects and the choice of destination country, or on the role of information in decisions to migrate. Research may focus on questions of preparations, anticipation of problems ‘en route’ and in the country of destination (e.g. discrimination), or on similarities and differences between South-South and South-North migration.
— Student migration. Here we seek novel research on student migration from Subsaharan Africa to Switzerland and Europe, as a specific motivation to migrate.
— Migration and health. Here we seek novel research on the situation ‘en route’ to Europe, how health affects decisions to migrate (or stay put), how the migration experience itself affects the mental and physical health of migrants, or the migration trajectories of health workers.

Methodologically and regarding academic discipline, the call is open, but innovative and experimental research is encouraged where this is reasonable. We encourage a focus on social mechanisms.

Funding
You can apply for a small pilot study, an exchange, or the combination of the two.

Pilot studies give you the opportunity to carry out your own research with independent funding. We call them ‘pilot studies’ because we want to encourage studies that can eventually expand. The aim of a pilot study should be to obtain sufficient empirical material for a research paper. The indicative budget of a pilot study is CHF 1,000 to 5,000.

Exchanges: For exchanges to Switzerland, the University of Neuchâtel figures as the hub for migration research in Switzerland. You will submit a clear project to be completed during your exchange. The exchange will take place in a bilateral frame between Switzerland and a Subsaharan African country — in either direction. Key countries are: Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda, as well as Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, and Tanzania. Remuneration for travel and living expenses is according to the guidelines by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The combination with other exchanges is not excluded. The indicative budget of an exchange is CHF 5,000 to 10,000.

All applicants are encouraged to bring external funding (e.g. matching funds), but this is not a requirement.

Timeline
Deadline for submissions is 15 April 2019. Fieldwork in summer or autumn 2019.

Submission and Information
Online form: http://neuchatel.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3jW58GDQ6HWX8fr

Submissions are competitive. For further information refer to the website of S-SAM: http://www.unine.ch/sfm/home/formation/ssam.html where you can also sign up to be notified about further calls and other announcements like possible virtual conferences. Contact didier.ruedin@unine.ch for further information.

Call as PDF

Audit Studies — The Book

There’s a new book edited by S. Michael Gaddis on audit studies. The subtitle promises to go behind the scenes with theory, method, and nuance — and this is what the book provides. As such, the book is a much needed contribution to the literature, where we typically see the results and little how we got there. With (not so) recent concerns around researcher degrees of freedom, the tour behind the scenes offered by the various chapters are an excellent way to make visible and apparent the ‘undisclosed flexibility’ as Simmons et al. called it in 2011. It’s one thing to discuss this in abstract terms, and it’s another thing to sit down with actual research and reflect on the many choices we have as researchers. Indeed, public reflection on research practices may be relatively rare in itself when it comes to quantitative research.

The book comes with a dedicated support webpage: http://auditstudies.com/ (do me the favour to update the “coming soon” banner). On this website, several chapters can be downloaded as pre-prints, though it’s not all the contents if someone is looking for a free book. I hope the authors will make their code available on the website as promised in several places in the book, because this will be another greatly helpful resource for those new to audit studies or looking for new directions.

I greatly enjoyed to read the reflections by other researchers doing audit studies, and would definitely recommend the book to anyone thinking of doing an audit study. At times there were passages that seemed a bit redundant to me, but all the chapters are written in such an accessible way that this didn’t bother me much. Where I think the book falls a bit short is on two fronts. First, it is very US-centric. In itself this is not an issue, but there are several instances where the authors don’t reflect that perhaps in other countries the markets are not organized the same way. In my view, a comparison to other countries and continents would have been fruitful to underline some of these assumptions — I’ve tried to just this on attitudes to immigrants. Second, the book is not a guidebook. I know, it doesn’t claim to be one, but the book asks so many (justified) questions and offers comparatively few concrete guidelines like Vuolo et al. offer it on statistical power. In this sense, the book will stimulate readers to think about their own research design and not provide a template. And this is actually a good thing, because as the chapters make apparent without normally saying so, there is no universal approach that suits different markets in different places and at different times.

So, should you buy the book? Yes if you want to carry out your own audit study, yes if you want to better understand and qualify the results of audit studies, and yes if you’re looking for guidelines — because the book will make you realize that you’re largely on your own. What would probably useful, though, would be a checklist of things to consider, something readers will have to create themselves on the basis of chapters 4 (Joanna Lahey and Ryan Beasley), 5 (Charles Crabtree), and 6 (Mike Vuolo, Christopher Uggen, and Sarah Lageson).

Gaddis, S. Michael, ed. 2018. Audit Studies: Behind the Scenes with Theory, Method, and Nuance. Methodos 14. New York: Springer. https://www.springer.com/cn/book/9783319711522

Ruedin, Didier. 2018. ‘Attitudes to Immigrants in South Africa: Personality and Vulnerability’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2018.1428086.

Simmons, Joseph P., Leif D. Nelson, and Uri Simonsohn. 2011. ‘False-Positive Psychology: Undisclosed Flexibility in Data Collection and Analysis Allows Presenting Anything as Significant’. Psychological Science 22 (11): 1359–66. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797611417632.

Vuolo, Mike, Christopher Uggen, and Sarah Lageson. 2016. ‘Statistical Power in Experimental Audit Studies: Cautions and Calculations for Matched Tests With Nominal Outcomes’. Sociological Methods & Research, 1–44. https://doi.org/10.1177/0049124115570066.

Zschirnt, Eva, and Didier Ruedin. 2016. ‘Ethnic Discrimination in Hiring Decisions: A Meta-Analysis of Correspondence Tests 1990–2015’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42 (7): 1115–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2015.1133279.>/small>

Pre-Registration: A Reasonable Approach

We probably all know that pre-registration of experiments is a good thing. It’s a real solution to what is increasingly called ‘p-hacking’: doing analyses until you find a statistically significant association (which you then report).

One problem is that most pre-registration protocols are pretty complicated, and as researchers in the social sciences we usually don’t have inclination/incentives to follow complicated protocols typically designed for biomedical experiments. A probably more reasonable approach is AsPredicted: We’re looking at 9 simple and straightforward questions, and we’re looking at pre-registration that remains private until it is made public (but can be shared with reviewers).