Expanding the range of social science
Almaatouq says that his team’s entry, along with many others submitted to the Challenge, can offer a new way to improve surveys in the future and expand the range of social science theories. “Also, these submissions can highlight potential targets for policy intervention in efforts to improve the lives of disadvantaged children in the US. For example, I learned through the Challenge that eviction is a natural target for policy intervention, but it has been challenging to pinpoint the causal impacts of eviction on children." As part of their prize, the team will speak at the Fragile Families Challenge scientific workshop, which will take place in mid-November at Princeton University, where the Challenge is based at the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing.
“We were very impressed with the contribution that Abdullah and his colleagues made to the Fragile Families Challenge,” says Matthew J. Salganik, a professor in Princeton’s department of sociology and a co-organizer of the FCC. “They were able to combine ideas from social science and data science in a new way, and the resulting performance was amazing. My colleagues and I are very excited for them to present their approach at our upcoming scientific workshop.”
In an interview when the FFC launched in March this year another FFC organizer, Ian Lundberg, explained that “the central goal is to use machine learning methods for mass collaboration in the service of qualitative interviews.” Lundberg, a graduate student in the Princeton University Office of Population Research, noted that “by combining ideas from social science and data science, we can—together—help address important scientific and social problems. And, we expect that through a mass collaboration we will accomplish things that none of us could accomplish individually. This project will demonstrate a new way of doing scientific research.”
“The challenge doesn't end here for us,” says Almaatouq. He and his fellow researchers will submit a paper on their winning FFC model for a special issue of Socius, the open access journal published by the American Sociological Association, they’ll also contribute as co-authors to the collective paper on the overall results of the Fragile Families Challenge. The Human Dynamics team also plans to use the data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study for future research and to further investigate the limits of predictability of its outcomes.