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Yu Xie Is Incoming Editor of Sociological Methodology

by Michael Hout, University of California-Berkeley

Yu Xie, the Otis Dudley Duncan Professor of Sociology and Statistics at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, will succeed Ross Stolzenberg, University of Chicago, as editor of Sociological Methodology (SM) beginning with the 2007 issue of this annual journal. Members of ASA, especially members of the methodology section, thank Stolzenberg for his six years in service to the journal.

Methodology Is Integral to Substance of Research

Xie believes that sociological methodology should not be separated from substantive concerns in sociological research and best sums up this perspective in his own words: “Sociology has much to offer both scholarly and wider audiences. We have not had the impact we can and should have, however, in part because we have sometimes allowed methodological, theoretical, or ideological differences to get in the way of doing what we do best: produce empirical knowledge about human societies.” To that end, Xie promises a journal that is, above all, practical.

Xie’s top priority is to publish articles that the entire sociological community can use. Some articles will bring researchers out to the cutting edge of causal inference or statistical methods. Others will import perspectives from other disciplines. But all articles will aim to equip sociological researchers with the tools they need for their substantive work. SM has, from its founding, fostered the development, adaptation, and dissemination of methodological developments. Important papers on path analysis, latent variables, log-linear models, event-history analysis, multi-level methods, and causal inference have given SM a strong impact factor of 1.12 in 2004 for influence on the field. (Impact factor is calculated by dividing the total number of citations of a journal’s articles in a specified two-year range by the total number of articles published in that journal during that period.)

Xie hopes to continue SM’s tradition of high-impact articles during his stewardship of the journal. Of course, no editor can anticipate where his colleagues’ ingenuity will take them next. And so he encourages researchers with articles on the full array of methodological topics to submit their work to SM.

About the Editor

Since 1999, Xie has directed Michigan’s world-famous Quantitative Methodology Program at the Institute for Social Research. He chaired the methodology section of ASA from 2001–03 and served on the SM editorial board (1994–97), the Sociological Methods and Research editorial board (1989–present), and the Sociology of Education editorial board (2003–06). He was deputy editor of the American Sociological Review(1996–2000) and associate editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association (1999–2001). Altogether, Xie has nearly 30 years of editorial board experience.

A native of China, Xie earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Shanghai University of Technology in 1982. He earned master’s degrees in sociology and the history of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984, and his doctorate from Wisconsin in 1989. He became an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Michigan in 1989, earned tenure there in 1994, was promoted to full professor in 1996, was honored with named professorships in 1996 and 1999, and became the Otis Dudley Duncan professor in 2004. He was also elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004 and an Academician of Academia Sinica that same year. Xie’s main areas of research interest are social stratification, demography, statistical methods, Chinese studies, and sociology of science. His interests in sociological methodology are wide-ranging, and they are all integrated with his substantive research. His best known methodological work is his log-multiplicative model (published in ASR in 1992), also called the “unidiff” model, that allows researchers to compare two-way relative odds across the categories of additional variables. His 2000 book Statistical Methods for Categorical Data Analysis(co-authored with sociologist Daniel A. Powers) has become the standard textbook in many top graduate programs.

Taking on the Gender Gap

Xie made headlines in 2005 when his book Women in Science, co-authored with Kimberlee Schauman (Harvard University Press, 2004), was widely cited as a counter-balance to Harvard President Lawrence Summer’s speculations on why men outnumber women in science. Their myth-busting research shows that (1) women are not ill-prepared by inferior math training in high school (the gender gap in standardized tests is small and declining), (2) many women earn science and engineering degrees after starting in a different major, (3) marriage does not limit women scientists’ geographical mobility, (4) the gender gap in scientific productivity is rapidly closing, and (5) the residual difference between men and women can be attributed to men’s resource advantage and the rapid improvement of women’s productivity to the equally rapid decline of that resource advantage. Mothers and immigrant women, however, remain seriously disadvantaged in American science.

I met Yu Xie when he was a graduate student. He sent me detailed comments on the book I was working on at the time. We have become close friends and valued colleagues since then, sharing manuscripts and opinions many times over the years. Xie’s insights and comments have been making my work better throughout our nearly 20 years of friendship, and authors who submit to SM can expect its new editor to help them improve their work, too.

Contact Xie (at smeditor@umich.edu) with your ideas for papers. Starting July 1, 2006, new manuscripts for SM should be sent to Yu Xie at Institute for Social Research, Room 2074, University of Michigan, 426 Thompson, Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248 or electronically to smeditor@umich.edu.