Tue, 04/18/2017


Issue and Conference on Using Administrative Data for Social Science and Policy

Edited by
Andrew M. Penner
University of California, Irvine
Kenneth A. Dodge
Duke University

Administrative data sources play an increasingly central role in understanding inequality, and recent initiatives like the Murray-Ryan Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016 suggest that administrative data infrastructure will only become more central in the future of social science and policy. Efforts to leverage administrative data in the social sciences to understand inequality and poverty are, however, uneven: In some domains, administrative data are used routinely, while they are virtually never used in others. The quality of these data has increased greatly, particularly in education and healthcare, due to accountability requirements. The potential for linking administrative data files across domains (e.g., education data and social services data) has improved with the advent of common identifiers. This issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences seeks to highlight the promise of analyzing administrative data for understanding issues around social, political, and economic inequalities, showcasing the unique insights that such data can provide in understanding the causes and consequences of these inequalities, and the effectiveness of programs and policies aimed at redressing these.

We welcome contributions from a wide-range of disciplines and perspectives using administrative data, including (but not limited to) economics, education, political science, psychology, public health, and sociology. We are also open to rigorous descriptive research using administrative data to help us understand better the contours of inequality, to integrate qualitative and quantitative data, and to advance theory. We welcome studies using administrative data from single geographical districts or organizations as well as the entire United States. Recognizing that the potential for insight grows exponentially as data are integrated, we are particularly interested in papers that link data sources that are often siloed. Note that while much important work on administrative data has a non-U.S. focus, per the Russell Sage Foundation’s charter, we consider work that focuses on “the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States.” Fortunately, the field is rich with domestic data.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for papers.

Anticipated Timeline

Prospective contributors should submit an abstract (up to two pages in length, single or double spaced) of their study along with up to two pages of supporting material (e.g. tables, figures, pictures, etc.) no later than 5 p.m. EST on June 15, 2017, to:

All submissions must be original work that has not been previously published in part or in full. Only abstracts submitted to will be considered. Each paper will receive a $1,000 honorarium when the issue is published. The journal issue is being edited by Andrew M. Penner, Associate Professor of Sociology at UC Irvine; and Kenneth A. Dodge, William McDougall Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. All questions regarding this issue should be directed to Suzanne Nichols, Director of Publications, at and not to the email addresses of the editors of the issue.

A conference will take place at the foundation in New York City on January 19, 2018. The selected contributors will gather for a one-day workshop to present draft papers (due on December 17, 2017, a month prior to the conference) and receive feedback from the other contributors and editors.

Travel costs, food, and lodging will be covered by the foundation. Papers will be circulated before the conference. After the conference, the authors will submit their final drafts on or before March 15, 2018. The papers will then be sent out to three additional scholars for peer review. Having received feedback from reviewers and the RSF board, authors will revise their papers before August 16, 2018. The full and final issue will be published in spring 2019.

Papers will be published open access on the RSF website as well as in several digital repositories, including JSTOR and UPCC/Muse.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for papers.