Academic integrity and scholarly independence are bedrock values of the Social Science Research Council. Rigorous and independent peer review has been critical to our fellowship selection process, and always will be.
A September 2019 article in the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom brought to light deviations from those norms with respect to the 2015 Abe Fellowship selection process, and in particular the scoring and selection as it related to scholar Celeste Arrington. Our own investigation found the part of the article describing practices in the 2015 Abe selection process that deviated from the established procedures and protocols in place at the SSRC to be largely accurate.
This was both alarming and unacceptable to us as scholars. Of course, our most enduring concern is for the potential impact on Dr. Arrington’s scholarship and the dissemination of her important work. We regret any negative impact this highly unusual outcome may have had on her and have worked with Dr. Arrington to find ways that the SSRC can help support her research and ideas. We are therefore delighted that she has agreed to serve as an SSRC Research Fellow for the 2020–2021 term.
Finally, we note that in 2017, prior to these events of 2015 coming to light, the SSRC’s new leadership had, with full support of our board of directors, undertaken a review of our practices and protocols, and instituted a series of new safeguards and mechanisms for raising concerns in such situations. And those managing the 2015 Abe Fellowship process are no longer affiliated with the SSRC. As a result, we believe that the incident that occurred in 2015 could not unfold in the same way today.
Social Science Research Council
February 28, 2020