research links w 4/17

Papers & Findings

The world is ending. The 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index finds links between corruption and inequality, and notes falling scores for countries around the world. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index is titled Revenge of the “deplorables”, and notes a worsening of the worldwide “democratic recession” in 2016.

Civic techs. What are the most important characteristics for civic apps? Low threshold for use, built in feedback, and visible change and engagement across users. This according to a paper presented at a recent Cambridge conference. Meanwhile, research on Twitter use in the 2016 Ugandan elections finds that the social media platform “provides minority groups important access to public space otherwise denied on traditional media platforms,” and a Yale study suggests that city use of citizen reporting platforms correlate with lower levels of crime, potentially due to increased social cohesion, though the authors are careful not to assert a causal relationship. Continue reading “research links w 4/17”

Democracy in the eye of the beholder

I love it when messy methods get topical, and this might be one of the very few silver linings to come out of Trumpland. December saw the publication of an IPSR special issue on measuring democracy, and then shit got real this week, when Andrew Gelman began a stream of posts criticizing the application of EIP methodology to the recent presidential elections in US states, and especially the claim/meme that North Carolina is no longer a democracy.

Continue reading “Democracy in the eye of the beholder”

research links w42


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.

Continue reading “research links w42”

Apples, oranges and open data

Open Knowledge International recently asked for feedback on survey questions for the 2016 Open Data Index. This is great, and has produced a modest but likely useful discussion to  improve Index processes for national research, as well as the resulting data. But regardless of how much effort goes into fine tuning the survey questions, there’s a fundamental problem underlying the idea of an international open data index. There’s a good argument to be made that you simply can’t compare the politics of #open across countries. Open Knowledge should think carefully about what this means when refining how they present the Index, and see what can be learned from the last 15 years of experience with international indices on human rights and governance. Continue reading “Apples, oranges and open data”