Papers / Findings
- Citizen engagement in rulemaking — evidence on regulatory practices in 185 countries (from the World Bank). TL;DR: opportunities for engagement are greatest in developed countries with strong regulatory systems, as are the use of ex post ante impact assessments. Paper includes an incredibly brief literature review and the study itself is based on e-questionnaires (word docs, expert perception only, no data on actual participation), which was sent to 1,500 individuals in 190 countries. The researchers also conducted follow up interviews for clarification, but there is no information on how many questionnaire responses were received. Most strikingly, the report advances a composite scoring mechanisms for engagement in rulemaking, for application across all country contexts. It’s clunky, with 4 scoring options for most metrics, each of which beg a million questions about comparability and the applicability of the scores to individual political contexts. I’d love to read some reflections on the challenges in actually applying this. Methods and questionnaire available here.
- User Research on UK parliamentary data from the ODI. Contains 4 detailed recommendations plus user journeys, but very sparse info on the methods or users interviewed. Also, @ODIHQ, stop using Scribd, we’ve been through this.
Commentary and Community
- Stefaan G. Verhulst and Danny Lämmerhirt summarized their open data research session at the IODC. They highlight discussions on open data demand/use, supply/infrastructure and impact, with next steps and research questions for each. There are also some comments on networking among researchers that merit further discussion.
- Heuristics: Govtech posts a Five-Point Plan to Cultivate Citizen Support for Tech Initiatives (data quality, citizen collaboration, trust, transparency regarding data use, curation), while an ex-brigadier offers 8 lessons for political startups (find a problem, find a market, find funding, iterate…).
- A couple of US academics are using machine learning and crowdsourcing to bypass the US government instutions’ political obstacles to collecting data on gun violence. Will be worth watching how these methods are met in the policy world. And they’re looking for volunteers.
- Another new World Bank Report suggests that the currect refugee crisis is a great opportunity to run experimental studies on the impact of ICTs in education (1, 12). Well, yes. But. Erg.
- Risk and Responsibility
- Research sweatshops: Ilka Gleibs makes an ethical argument about the dangers of using marketplaces for crowdsourcing data collection in the social sciences. TL;DR: those are people on the other end of the interwebs. #responsibledata
- Chris Blattman on the gendered dangers of field work in challenging contexts and with a disturbing anecdote.
- Best Practices for Conducting Risky Research and Protecting Yourself from Online Harassment. From the good folks at Data & Society
In the Methodological Weeds
- The recent OpenDemocracy post on international human rights research (I commented here) has provoked something approaching a spat. The eminent Todd Landman, who’s driven methodological development in comparative human rights research for more than a decade, takes umbrage with the post’s general claim that comparative research obscures injustice. He gets into the methodological weeds (alternative coding mechanisms, additional variables for cross-national time-series analysis, mixed method and small-n comparative analsysis) to argue that the author’s main assertion is “simply fallacious.”Worth the read. Meanwhile, co-director of one of the data sets criticized by the post takes a higher level view. He argues that comparative data sets might not capture lived experience, but, well, that’s because it’s not what their for.
- Call for Papers: Quantitative methods, big data and gender (special issue, deadline Nov 1)
- The Impacts of Civic Technology Conference 2017 (Florence, April): CFP and registration now open.
- International Conference on Computer Communication and Networks (Aug, Hawaii): CFP and registration now open
- The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (Harvard) is hiring multiple positions
- Call for Panelists on Method and Methodology in the Political Economy of Communication (ICA 2017, May, San Diego)
- PDH position at Malmö University in Media and Communication Studies (focus on New Media, Public Spheres and Forms of Expression). Sweden is one of those countries where a PHD is a job, with both sufficient resources and intellectual freedom. Highly recommended.
- Ph.D. in Technology and Humanities at Illinois Tech
Absurdum / Miscellanea
- Irrigated agriculture makes societies more likely to be ruled by authoritarian regimes (an actual economics article, with compelling arguments about hidden contextual factors)
- Headline: What makes young people more excited about politics? Deciding how to spend municipal budgets
- “The Social Science Replication Project is recruiting new researchers to gamble on replications of 21 experimental studies published in Nature and Science (deadline Oct 31).” (From IPA’s Weekly Links)