"Applied and Policy" Track: trial

David Reinstein, 28 Mar 2024 I am proposing the following policies and approaches for our “Applied & Policy Stream”. We will move forward with these for now on a trial basis, but they may be adjusted. Please offer comments and ask questions in this Google doc, flagging the email 'contact@unjournal.org'

Why have an “”?

Much of the most impactful research is not aimed at academic audiences and may never be submitted to academic journals. It is written in formats that are very different from traditional academic outputs, and cannot be easily judged by academics using the same standards. Nonetheless, this work may use technical approaches developed in academia, making it important to gain expert feedback and evaluation.

The Unjournal can help here. However, to avoid confusion, we want to make this clearly distinct from our main agenda, which aims at impactful academically-aimed research.

This we are trialing an “Applied & Policy Stream” which will be clearly labeled as separate from our main stream. This may constitute roughly 10 or 15% of the work that we cover. Below, we refer to this as the “policy stream” for brevity.

What should be included in the Policy stream?

Our considerations for prioritizing this work are generally the same as for our academic stream – is it in the fields that we are focused on, using approaches that enable meaningful evaluation and rating? Is it already having impact (e.g., influencing grant funding in globally-important areas)? Does it have the potential for impact, and if so, is it high-quality enough that we should consider boosting its signal?

We will particularly prioritize policy and applied work that uses technical methods that need evaluation by research experts, often academics.

This could include the strongest work published on the EA Forum, as well as a range of further applied research from EA/GP/LT linked organizations such as GPI, Rethink Priorities, Open Philanthropy, FLI, HLI, Faunalytics, etc., as well as EA-adjacent organizations and relevant government white papers.

How should our (evaluation etc.) policies differ here?

Ratings/metrics: As in the academic stream, this work will be evaluated for its credibility, usefulness, communication/logic, etc. However, we are not seeking to have this work assessed by the standards of academia in a way that yields a comparison to traditional journal tiers. Evaluators: Please ignore these parts of our interface; if you are unsure if it is relevant feel free to ask.

Evaluator selection, number, pay: Generally we want to continue to select academic research experts or non-academic researchers with strong academic and methodological background to do these evaluations. , particularly from academia, to work that is not normally scrutinized by such experts.

The compensation may be flexible as well; in some cases the work may be more involved than for the academic stream and in some cases less involved. As a starting point we will begin by offering the same compensation as for the academic stream.

Careful flagging and signposting: To preserve the reputation of our academic-stream evaluations we need to make it clear, wherever people might see this work, that it is not being evaluated by the same standards as the academic stream and doesn't “count” towards those metrics.

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