February 14, 2019

Blockchain will provide transparency to the world of meta-analysis

By Priya Kantaria

Video games are a real source of controversy among social scientists, whose meta-analyses says both that they can cause violent behaviour and that they can prevent it, but blockchain could be the answer.

In each case, the meta-analysis, the examination of data from independent studies, points to quantitative and qualitative research that support their argument.

But the fact is that within the meta-analyses, researchers make conscious and unconscious choices that affect the end conclusions.

Recording these decisions along the path of the analysis can provide an insight into the accuracy of the conclusions and ultimately add credibility.

Blockchain can improve credibility in meta-analyses

A research fellow at the Centre for Effective Global Action at the University of California, Kweku Opoku-Agyemang, has suggested using blockchain to strengthen the transparency and credibility of meta-analyses.

The ledger technology can provide tamper-proof and time-stamped records of events, so it could be applied within social sciences to ensure arguments in meta-analyses are reproducible.

Opoku-Agyemang is hoping to build a cloud computing platform that would continuously record the researcher’s workflow and track decisions by the analysts.

This would give the transparency that blockchain is famous for to social science studies, providing insight into how they are collected and analysed.

Then where the meta-analyses give contradictory results, the blockchain will help to decide where and how the conclusions vary.

Opoku-Agyemang is planning to pilot the concept using literature on microcredit, a poverty alleviation tool used by policymakers but contested by the research community.

“My hope is that blockchain can not only make meta-analysis research more efficient but inspire new lines of research to help solve the many economic and social problems we all care about,” he said.

“I also hope that it will facilitate collaboration, as the social sciences in general, and economics in particular, are still lagging behind other disciplines.”

Blockchain, a solution to everything

Blockchain and the transparency that the decentralised ledger system provides is being harnessed by more and more industries since its beginnings in the cryptocurrency domain.

It is being applied in the shipping industry to improve trust between the parties involved, by a startup called eTEU.

It is also being applied in the music industry by a startup called Remixology to ensure transparency between stakeholders, and enable artists to respect copyright while commissioning remixes.

The UK’s HM Revenue and Customs has even been urged to adopt blockchain to help stop Brexit tax errors.