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Methodological Reporting Standards in Public Management Scholarship: An Interplay

  • American University 4400 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest Washington, DC, 20016 United States (map)

Location: Ward Circle Building, Room T4


  • Seulki Lee, New York University
  • Sonia Ospina, New York University  
  • Valentina Mele, Bocconi University
  • Marc Esteve, University College London

A description of research methodology in a journal article provides the rationale for the choice of analytic tools and techniques, allowing the reader to understand approaches to the research problem and critically evaluate methodological rigor. Despite the importance of reporting methodological decisions, however, there is a lack of agreement among researchers about what and how much to report, particularly along the qualitative-quantitative continuum. Systematic reviews of research methodology practices have pointed out the great variation in the reporting of methodological details, emphasizing the lack of reporting standards (Brower, Abolafia, and Carr 2000; Scandaura and Williams 2000; Lowery and Evans 2004; Stewart 2012; Ospina, Esteve, and Lee 2016). Poor reporting of research methodology precludes full understanding of the research and prevents the assessment of research quality (Ospina, Esteve, and Lee 2016).  This workshop will engage public management researchers from different methodological communities in a discussion around the question: how do we develop agreements around reporting standards for our research that respect the internal logic of inquiry of different methodologies, but at the same time move the public management community toward a common ground?   Scholars who have published in main public management journals using different methods (e.g., case studies, regression analysis, experimental research, narrative analysis, and network analysis) will reflect on the issues discussed above. Based on their own practice and experience, they will offer some insights to jump-start a group conversation on the intrinsic challenges of reporting and solutions they have devised considering the specific guidelines of public management journals and of their research traditions.

This session has two main goals:

  • To discuss and nail down the methodological choices that require appropriate and sufficient reporting, including: sampling/selection, data collection procedures, analysis strategies, and methodological limitations.
  • To compare criteria for evaluating the quality of research in different methodological traditions (e.g., for quantitative research: internal/external validity, reliability, transparency, and replicability; for inductive qualitative research: credibility, transferability, confirmability, and trustworthiness). Once compared, to identify and search for opportunities for common ground around the various dimensions of reporting.

Based on these goals, the session will encourage a discussion of the implications and ways forward. On the one hand, we aim at sharing reporting strategies that raise the bar of current standards, while being consistent with the editorial policies of public management journals. On the other hand, we also aim at discussing how to raise awareness among researchers about methodological reporting and to consider if we need to change some of the journal policies in ways that improve methodological rigor and strengthen the field of public management research.