There is one great thing about medical and epidemiological research – declaration of the conflicts of interest. Medical researchers, usually before they actually present any research results, declare that they are not biased by financing or obligations to pharmaceutical companies, to producers of devices, commercially promoted ways of treatment, or anything like this.
However, social scientists do not bother with such nuance. Not-so-smart ones would claim they try to be objective. Smart ones would say: “Of course we’re biased”, but would never reflect in their articles in which way (and editors would not accept such papers). Given the neo-positivist ethos of the leading journals in sociology and social psychology, conflict of interest (or researcher’s personal bias) can undermine many conclusions without even acknowledging it. Especially when a researcher has so many degrees of freedom. It looks totally outdated, as if we haven’t had all these anti- and post-positivisms, or critical theory. Haven’t every reader thought about comparing consistent results of some prominent scholars of, for example, values and moral attitudes with their personal views? We can try to avoid this bias statistically, but we cannot easily reshape the way we think, so the least we can do is a declaration of researcher’s personal opinions added to every article. Of course, this is a very personal stuff, but I think it would greatly amend a positivist pathos of many, many articles.