Computational social science (CSS) is the science that investigates social phenomena through the medium of computing and related advanced information processing technologies. The Computational Social Science Society of the Americas (CSSSA) is a professional society that aims to promote the field of computational social science in all its areas, including basic and applied orientations, by holding conferences and workshops, promoting standards of scientific excellence in research, teaching, and service, and by advancing the role of CSS in contemporary society.
Computational social science is a relatively new field when compared to other disciplines. Pioneering work in this field has shown how computer simulation of interacting adaptive software agents are useful in accurately representing complex social systems, organizations, and networks. The underlying computational algorithms used in these simulations are the “algebra” of our scientific methods. They must be open to examination by the broader scientific community if we are to advance this field. Imagine physics and engineering where equations were not openly shared! Computational social scientists need to share, discuss, and publish their results and underlying methods so that future scientists can build upon their earlier work. Lots of work needs to be done in improving scientific rigor in computational social science.
Requiring models and methods to be documented when published and presented is needed. Documenting the underlying algorithms used to represent social dynamics in a simulation allows credit to be assigned to the pioneering scientist. Providing a publication mechanism where these documented models can be viewed by others is needed. Providing an open forum to discuss questions like “how does your model represent things?”, “how would you represent this behavior in a future model?”, and “how does your model differ with an earlier model?” is needed. This is science. CSSSA has made some progress in nurturing scientific exchange along these lines. I am proud of the scientists who have demonstrated integrity and courage by documenting their models and making them accessible for others to learn from. I look forward to seeing this become the norm in our exciting and growing field.
– Edward MacKerrow, President CSSSA.
CSSSA has the goals of:
1) Improve the scientific credibility of computational social science.
2) Maintain a society characterized by scientific integrity.
3) Promote of the advancement of computational social science through scientific exchange, transparency, and open discussion.
Scientific progress requires scientists to build upon previous research and developments of their peers and give explicit credit to these peers — to foster trust and integrity. Publishing your research, providing transparency into your algorithms and computer models is strongly encouraged via the Open Agent-Based Modeling Consortium. In addition to providing an open repository for models and simulations OpenABM also provides a valuable forum for collaboration, learning, and networking.