An Appraisal of Walter Prescott Webb's the Great Plains: a Study in Institutions and Environment

An Appraisal of Walter Prescott Webb's the Great Plains: a Study in Institutions and Environment

An Appraisal of Walter Prescott Webb's the Great Plains: a Study in Institutions and Environment

An Appraisal of Walter Prescott Webb's the Great Plains: a Study in Institutions and Environment

Excerpt

This publication is the third in a series entitled Critiques of Research in the Social Sciences, sponsored by the Social Science Research Council through its Committee on Appraisal. The Committee was set up in September, 1937, in order to devise ways and means of assaying the quality of completed pieces of research in the various social sciences. Book reviews, even in professional journals, often fail to perform this function satisfactorily and, in any case, they do not supply the need of reappraisal after the investigator's conclusions have been tested by the researches of others. The Council hoped that the Committee on Appraisal might do something to focus the attention of scholars more sharply on the underlying principles of social science and to assist in developing criteria of judgment and standards of performance that would help students to identify good work as well as to produce it. To the Committee were appointed specialists representing the seven branches of the social sciences which constitute the Council.

As one means of carrying out its assignment, the Committee on Appraisal has been engaged in subjecting to critical analysis a list of studies, published in the United States since the first World War, which authorities in the respective fields have declared to be of outstanding significance. Twenty or more scholars were consulted in making each selection. The Committee itself set up no criteria of judgment beyond the general one of significance, for it was interested in ascertaining what standards of evaluation prevail among social scientists as well as the intrinsic merits of the work chosen. Thomas andZnaniecki, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, was named by the consultants in sociology, and Mills, The Behavior of Prices, by the economists and statis-

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