What do we know about the differences between those manuscripts that became part of the accepted body of sociological knowledge because they were accepted for publication in the American Sociological Review compared to those manuscripts that were rejected? What were the characteristics of the authors, reviewers, and manuscript topics that were accepted versus those that were rejected? What were the reasons for acceptance or rejection? Up to now, those interested in the history of the discipline lacked such data over significant periods of intellectual history, data which would be necessary to see the evolution of knowledge, especially during periods of major change in the composition of the scientific community.
Scientists create knowledge that is transmitted by incorporating it into the body of peer-reviewed content, especially through scientific journals. Up until now, it has not been easy to empirically study these questions because sociologists and those interested in the history of science rarely have access to a body of data that includes what is rejected as well as what is accepted for publication, and the reasons for these decisions.
The American Sociological Association (ASA) in collaboration with the Center for Social Science Research (CSSR) at the George Mason University was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a digital research archive of the rejected and accepted manuscripts, their peer reviews and correspondence between editors, authors, and reviewers who submitted to the American Sociological Review (ASR) from 1990 through 2010. The data described in this codebook provides an opportunity for researchers to fill this gap in our understanding of the creation of scientific knowledge.
The Digital Archive (DA) is in the form of a relational database that permits scholarly exploration of the evolution of sociology as a discipline during this twenty-year time period, its paradigms, intellectual networks, and the demographics of its contributors. It can track how the process of knowledge production was shaped by the peer review process during a period of dramatic change in the discipline of sociology, and institutions of higher education. By including unpublished manuscripts along with published ones, the Archive will make visible currently invisible professional networks and processes that span the discipline of sociology. By bringing together versions of unpublished manuscripts with published ones and corresponding review materials, the DA allows scholars to better understand changes in disciplinary paradigms and how the peer review process shapes a discipline.