The Wells-Du Bois Protocol for Machine Learning Bias: Building Critical Quantitative Foundations for Third Sector Scholarship

Thema Monroe-White, Jesse Lecy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper charts the rapid rise of data science methodologies in manuscripts published in top journals for third sector scholarship, indicating their growing importance to research in the field. We draw on critical quantitative theory (QuantCrit) to challenge the assumed neutrality of data science insights that are especially prone to misrepresentation and unbalanced treatment of sub-groups (i.e., those marginalized and minoritized because of their race, gender, etc.). We summarize a set of challenges that result in biases within machine learning methods that are increasingly deployed in scientific inquiry. As a means of proactively addressing these concerns, we introduce the “Wells-Du Bois Protocol,” a tool that scholars can use to determine if their research achieves a baseline level of bias mitigation. Ultimately, this work aims to facilitate the diffusion of key insights from the field of QuantCrit by showing how new computational methodologies can be improved by coupling quantitative work with humanistic and reflexive approaches to inquiry. The protocol ultimately aims to help safeguard third sector scholarship from systematic biases that can be introduced through the adoption of machine learning methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVoluntas
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Algorithmic bias
  • Critical quantitative methods
  • Data science
  • Machine learning
  • Third sector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Strategy and Management

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