AAPSS advances science and public policy by bringing research to bear on critical social problems.

The ANNALS: Our Bimonthly Journal of Research

Current Issue: The New Big Science: Linking Data to Understand People in Context

Edited By: Sandra L. Hofferth and Emilio F. Moran

Big data, that is, data that are byproducts of our lives rather than designed for research purposes, are the newest of the information highway innovations. One of the important challenges to social and behavioral science data collection, curation, and dissemination for the foreseeable future is to link diverse forms of data in a way that is cumulative, representative, meaningful, and accessible to a broad range of researchers. It is critical to explore the new questions these data can address and to develop new methods to address them, including linking persons and information about them and their environments across different data platforms while maintaining confidentiality and privacy. Linking a broad array of information—from administrative data (local and state and regional), to social media (Twitter, Facebook), to census and other surveys, to ethnographic data, and data from experiments such as randomized controlled trials—to address how humans and their communities make decisions is challenging. This issue was addressed by papers presented at a conference on New Data Linkages convened by the Social Observatories Coordinating Network in 2016; those articles are brought together in this volume.

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Featured Fellow

Janet Currie, 2014 Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow

Janet Currie is the Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs and Director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University; and Director of the Program on Families and Children at the National Bureau of Economic Research.  Dr. Currie is widely regarded as one of the leading economists contributing to the analysis of public policy.  She combines a passion for intellectual inquiry with scrupulous objectivity and even-handedness in her research.  Her major focus is on the health and well-being of children, which has culminated in her recent book The Invisible Safety Net: Protecting the Nation’s Poor Children and Families (Princeton University Press 2008). Her current research is breaking new ground with analysis of environmental threats to children’s health from sources such as toxic pollutants. She has served as Vice President of the American Economic Association and has been elected President of the Society of Labor Economists. Dr. Currie is also an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.