...and they really are here to help you. I'm speaking about the National Science Foundation, and specifically about its Law and Social Sciences (LSS) Program. For the folks reading this, the LSS Program is probably the single best source for external funding of one's research; yet it's received relatively little exposure on this blog. While details about proposal submission deadlines, proposal formats, etc. can all be found on the Program's website, I want to highlight three common misconceptions about the LSS program that should be of particular interest to ELSBlog readers.
Misconception #1. The LSS Program (and/or the NSF in general) only funds quantitative research.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only does LSS (and NSF) fund qualitative research (for examples, take a look at some of the recent awards made by the program), but the Program and the Foundation have been active in helping to developing standards for evaluating qualitative research, and in strengthening qualitative methods in the social sciences.
Misconception #2. There's not enough money there to bother going after.
The last time I checked, the LSS program was awarding grants totalling around $3.5 million a year. That's not crazy money, but it is a substantial amount nonetheless. And, as I often reminded researchers when I oversaw the Program, somebody's going to get it.
Misconception #3. It is improper/inappropriate to discuss my project/proposal with the NSF program officer.
Again, nothing could be further from the truth. NSF program officers (POs) are the individuals who oversee the proposal, review, and award process; their job is to serve their program's research community. As long as you don't try to bribe them, threaten them, or otherwise violate federal law, they are generally happy to answer questions about the proposal process, review criteria, and other aspects of the funding game, and even to offer suggestions. In fact, a short discussion with a program's director is probably the best place to start a proposal, since POs can often tell you immediately whether or not your idea is a good "fit" for their program (and suggest an alternative if it is not). (FYI, the current LSS Program's officers are Isaac Unah and Kevin Gotham).
I got the full report from Zogby on the recent pop culture
survey. In this survey, people were asked to name only two justices, not all nine. Sixty-one
percent of people could not name any justices, whereas 15% named one and 24%
named two. The press release characterizes Thomas as the “most
recognized justice,” and while prior surveys support this characterization (now that O’Connor is gone), the
Zogby survey on its own probably supports calling him only the “most top-of-mind justice.”
Here are the percentages indicating how often each justice was named:
Another relevant question was asking people to name the
three branches of government. Forty-two percent named all three, 17% gave an
incorrect “other” answer, and 41% were “not sure.” Unfortunately, it’s not clear what exactly counted as a correct answer to
this question, e.g., did “President” count for the “executive” or the “courts” for the “judiciary”? Without this information, this question is not as interesting.
n = 1213 error: +/- 2.9%
Source: Zogby International, “Pop Culture/Political Survey: Nationwide and in Ten Metropolitan Areas” (Aug. 10, 2006).
If Chicago and the MPSA are not your thing, then maybe Vegas and the Western Political Science Association annual meeting will better suit your fancy. It all happens March 8-10, 2007 at the La Riviera Hotel. The deadline for papers is coming up fast, September 11, 2006. Go here for all the details.
The 65th annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association is scheduled for April 12-15, 2007 at the Palmer House Hilton, and the deadline for proposals is October 2, 2006. More information can be found here.
At the end of an earlier post, my friend and former boss Rick Lempert touched on a pet peeve of mine: treating "data" as a singular noun (as in, "Our data is...," or "The data suggests..."). "Data," I learned early on in my graduate training, is the plural of "datum," and so is akin to "facts"; the only correct form is therefore the plural ("Our data are...," "The data suggest..."). Any other usage -- including that in a number of postsonthisveryblog -- is simply wrong.
Sadly, my smug self-satisfaction at relentlessly educating all those singular-data cretins has come to an end. As it happens, the cretins were right; or, at least, they weren't as wrong as I'd thought. Language, as we all know, evolves; the growing consensus is that data is a mass noun, and so admits to a singular usage. In this respect, data is undergoing the same transition that agenda -- formally, the plural of agendum -- underwent a long time ago: Few people I know would say (e.g.) "The meeting's agenda allocate ten minutes for opening statements." My reading of a number of discussionsof this issuearound the blogosphere also suggests that there is a generational component to the change, with younger folks being more willing to accept -- and in some cases, even argue strenuously for -- data as singular.
So, with a heavy heart, I'll be scratching data-as-singular-noun from my pet-peeve list (which includes, among other things, reporting "p = 0.000" and stating that one's parameter estimates are "significant in the wrong direction"). But with that, a plea: keep treating data as plural anyway. It's still correct, and (in this blogger's opinion) it just sounds better.
Michael Shermer comments on the case in the September issue of Scientific American. His conclusion: "Mr. Lott, tear down this legal wall and let us return to doing science
without lawyers. Replicating results means testing hypotheses--not merely duplicating methodologies--and this central tenet of science can
only flourish in an atmosphere of open peer review."
I appreciate Jason's invitation to guest-blog. I'll try to resist the urge to promote my recent paper (with Todd Peppers) on Supreme Court law clerks, and instead focus my comments (mostly) on the ways in which the cultures of the legal and social science academies are sometimes in opposition, and if (and how) those tensions might be resolved. I'd like to start with the issue of peer review, a subject that has received a good bit of attention both on this blog (e.g., here, here, and here), and on several others.
The advantages of peer review (by which I mean single- or double-blind review of singly-submitted manuscripts, as is the standard practice in the sciences, including the social sciences) are well-understood: it ensures (or at least improves the chances) that reviewers will have the necessary expertise to evaluate the work, allows those reviewers to be frank in their evaluations without fear of retribution, and removes at least some of the potential for reviewer bias due to personal factors. While the system generally works well, it is also criticized for (among other things) being slow, inefficient, biased in favor of well-known scholars and/or institutions, subject to predation and plagiarism, and inherently conservative.
All of this is in stark contrast to law reviews, where multiple submissions, expediting, and student review are the norm. Law review turnaround is generally faster than that at refereed journals, and its proponents claim that it lacks the conservative bias that comes from older, more established established scholars acting as gatekeepers. At the same time, it is hard for me to imagine a system more ill-suited to evaluating the scientific merit of a piece of scholarship. In a nutshell, peer review's small-"c" conservative bias is good for the scientific enterprise, but sometimes comes at a cost to the publishability of really innovative work, while law journals' biases toward "hot topics" and unconventional ideas works in the opposite direction.
The implications, particularly for junior faculty, are clear. Social science departments devalue publications in non-peer reviewed outlets, leaving social scientists with an interest in the law little incentive to publish in even the most prestigious law journals. On the other side, law faculty with shorter tenure clocks are less willing to allow 2-3 years (or more) to pass before an empirical paper is published in a peer-reviewed journal, making law reviews all the more appealing. The overall effect is to exacerbate what Frank Cross has called the "unfortunate interdisciplinary ignorance" between legal academics and social scientists.
What to do, then? One alternative, suggested by Valerie Hans in a comment to an earlier post, is to write separate pieces, one for a law review audience, the other for peer-reviewed journals. More radical options call for altering the way the journals (particularly law journals) operate. One suggestion along these lines was offered a few years ago by Lee Epstein and Gary King, but many others exist. One I find particularly creative (and intriguing) is open peer review. The journal Nature has recently implemented this approach on a trial basis; their report on the experiment is due out this fall. Given law professors' apparent affinity for on-line scholarship (cf. SSRN, and this blog!), this strikes me as a particularly strong candidate as a model for peer review of empirical legal research.
This week's guest blogger is Professor Christopher Zorn. Chris' research interests are in the areas of law and judicial politics,
quantitative methodology, and international politics. His current
research examines a range of topics in American and international
political institutions, including federal government litigation, U.S.
Supreme Court decision-making, and international relations, as well as
research on event count, survival, and panel data models for
He is formerly a Visiting Scientist
and Program Director for the Law and Social Science Program at the
National Science Foundation.
My fascination with Global Cities continues. As I noted in an earlier post, Global Cities are centers of international commerce that are defined by concentrations of advanced producers services--i.e., bankers, accountants, consultants, advertising executives, and, of course, lawyers. As it turns out, a globalizing ecomomy has two geographic effects that move in opposite directions : (1) the decentralization of production, as companies piece together the most cost-effective way (often through elaborate subcontracting) to make and distribute their goods; (2) a geographic centralization of corporate strategy functions to control more sophisticated global operations.
Because of the complexity, scale, and stakes of most global ventures, hiring outside counsel is increasingly a matter of expertise (and value) rather than per-hour billing cost. This expertise can only be acquired through exposure to a large volume of high-end matters. Hence, a disproportionate amount of the most sophisticated U.S. legal work is performed in a handful of global cities. And to access this human capital, firms (and ultimately clients) are willing to absorb labor and real estate costs that rapidly outpace inflation. Although many Fortune 500 have exited these same high cost markets, agglomeration provides significant synergies for advanced producer services.
Here is a graphic that summarizes the Top 10 U.S. markets in terms of growth of corporate lawyers. The MSAs in green are global cities under virtually all the competing methodologies; the other five metropolitan areas are on the cusp. [click on chart to enlarge]
Below the fold are additional graphics that show how these numbers appear to be trickling down to law students evaluating their future employment prospects.