Methodical Snark

critical reflections on how we measure and assess civic tech
This is a blog about how the civic tech and accountability field measures its work and its impact. It’s based on a critical perspective, but tries to be more productive than conference snark. It’s an effort to highlight how much work is being done in silos across the academic-NGO divide, to de-mystify important methods and findings, and to call out research that is sloppy or unhelpful. Scroll for the blog roll, or check out the core content types:
I READ THIS FOR YOU: summaries for those with more interest than time. 
MINI LIT REVIEWS: when I wonder about something, I check what the research says, and write it up.
RESEARCH ROUNDUP: review of recent research on topical issues.
RANDOM SNARK: reflections and questions about using evidence in civic tech design.

Latest stories

I read this for you: Experimental Evidence from 2,150 Brazilian Municipalities on how Research Affects Policy

What is it: A 59pg Working Paper from NBER (inc. 6pgs of references and 29 pgs of tables and annexes). Presents the results of two field experiments, plus background and lots of methods. Includes a highly readable 4 page intro that summarizes everything. Produced by four solid academics doing rigorous work, with no institutional biases that I can see. Should you care: Maybe. It’s a cool and smart...

Sources for civic tech research

Civic tech research is scattered widely across a messy web. Here's what I track to try to keep up to date, with a focus on Google Scholar search terms for academic stuff, research websites that sometimes address civic tech, and civic tech feeds that sometimes reference research.

Is OGP asking enough?: an analysis of civic participation norms and policies

One of the ways we expect OGP to improve governance in member countries is by telling governments (how) to be more participatory. But a close read of the participation norms and policies promoted and adopted in an OGP context suggests that even if government’s did everything they were told, it might not be such a game changer for responsiveness and accountability.

Learning and socialization in OGP: a research gap and how to fix it

Soft power and voluntary social dynamics are what make MSI’s like OGP unique. Yet these dynamics are almost completely ignored in the burgeoning body of research on public governance MSIs. This is probably because compliance and impact seem easier to measure, but research on how OGP facilitates socialization and learning is as feasible as it is important. This post presents findings from a case...

Measuring the effectiveness and impact of multi-stakeholder initiatives like the OGP

This is the first a series of posts ahead of the OGP Summit in Ottawa, summarizing aspects of my doctoral research on OGP and civic participation. You can find some background on that research here.   We spend a lot of time talking about whether or not global MSIs like the OGP are “working”. These conversations often take place against the backdrop of dissatisfaction with results and...

Snark spring cleaning

There's some changes coming to the snark. Research roundups will be topical and episodic rather than comprehensive and regular. This will open bandwidth for more research reviews and summaries by request, and more writing about the role of evidence in civic tech design. Lastly, some news and links to articles from my doctoral work on OGP.

Methodical Snark critical reflections on how we measure and assess civic tech

Tags

Get in touch

Suggest research to be reviewed or mini-lit reviews. Ask questions or tell me why I'm wrong.