The 2016 Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research (IQMR) will be held at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Participants at the 2016 institute will arrive on Sunday June 12, and classes will commence on June 13. The institute will run until the evening of Friday June 24, with a two day break on June 18 and 19.
The institute seeks to enable students to create and critique methodologically sophisticated qualitative research designs, including case studies, tests of necessity or sufficiency, and narrative or interpretive work. It explores the techniques, uses, strengths, and limitations of these methods, while emphasizing their relationships with alternative approaches. Topics include research design, methods of structured and focused comparisons of cases, typological theory, case selection, process tracing, comparative historical analysis, congruence testing, path dependency, interpretivism, counterfactual analysis, interview and field research (including archival) techniques, necessary and sufficient conditions, fuzzy set methods, natural experiments, and philosophy of science issues relevant to qualitative research.
Attendees will have the opportunity to receive constructive feedback on their own research designs. Click here for more information. Open Pool application deadline: November 16, 2015.
In their recent paper, Constitutional Constraints on Punitive Damages: Clarity, Consistency, and the Outlier Dilemma, Laura and William Hines (Kansas and Iowa, respectively) provide a helpful post-State Farm picture of punitive damages activity in state and federal courts from 2003-2013. To this end, the paper looks to data (507 punitive damages cases from state and federal courts) to assess the degree to which punitive damages incorporate past Supreme Court guidance on Due Process Clause implications. What the authors' descriptive analyses imply is that "[their] 507 case sample suggests a high degree of uniformity nationwide in the process by which courts conduct the review of punitive damages awards. Less clear, however, is whether that heightened level of judicial review significantly reduced the inconsistency or unpredictability of punitive damages awards overall."
One of the academy's leading empirical legal scholars, Tom Miles, was just named the University of Chicago Law School's 15th Dean. A prolific scholar (and award-winning classroom teacher), Tom's primary research focus is in the areas of criminal justice and judicial behavior, and he has looked extensively at issues of race through a variety of legal perspectives. His scholarship makes creative use of the tools of law and economics as well as empirical methods. Not surprisingly, Tom is a Fellow in the Society for Empirical Legal Studies.
Registration is now ongoing for 10th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies (CELS). The conference will include over 100 paper presentations with assigned discussants, and more than 30 poster presentations, all selected through peer review. The conference will open with lectures on network analysis and data visualization. The Keynote Address will be given by Richard K. Wilson, PhD, Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Professor of Genetics, Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Director of the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, who will speak on "Modern Genomics and Precision Medicine.”
Click here for additional registration information.
Today's WSJ contributes reports on a recent paper (here) that seeks to contribute to a long-standing debate surrounding the proverbial "hot hand" fallacy. In their paper, Surprised by the Gambler's and Hot Hand Fallacies? A Truth in the Law of Small Numbers, Joshua Miller (Bocconi Univ.) and Adam Sanjurjo (Univ. de Alicante) suggest that a form of selection bias contributes to an underestimation of the true probability of an outcome when conditioned on a prior (and similar) outcome. Not sure if the paper works, but an intriguing potential wrinkle nonetheless.
While reasonable minds can (and do) differ on how best to legally operationalize the equal educational opportunity doctrine, if the doctrine is to stand for anything meaningful it has to at least mean that a child's educational "destiny" should be independent of the household income that a child happens to have been born into. Data, however, make painfully clear that on balance we fall short--far, far short--of this aspiration. Helping make these data "come alive" is an interactive graphic (in the New York Times) that allows users to "guess" at the relation between a child's chance at going to college and parental income levels. (After a user draws his/her own regression line onto the graph the user can then compare it with the actual regression line.) While depressing from a policy perspective it's a clever interactive graphic.
The paper's findings suggest that "some appellate courts, particularly those in the South, afraid that juries with substantial African-American representation would redistribute wealth or retaliate for grievances, struck preemptively to prevent cases from reaching them. Surprisingly, we do not find a consistent association between a state’s JADI and either income inequality or its political leanings. In other words, race and region, rather than economic class or politics, explain the failure to embrace pro-plaintiff changes that occurred elsewhere."
Norms concerning data sharing appear to be in some flux and variation across disciplines (and journals) is on the rise. Some interesting thoughts on why more scholars do not share their data to facilitate replication (here). A strong form of the argument favoring data sharing--that journals should make data (and/or code) sharing a condition of peer-review--is found here.
While simply massive and (potentially) a bit unwieldy, the Database on Ideology, Money in Politics, and Elections (DIME) is, quite literally, unparalleled in terms of scope. Indeed, the database contains over 100 million political contributions made by individuals and organizations to local, state, and federal elections spanning a period from 1979 to 2012.
DIME "is intended as a general resource for the study of campaign finance and ideology in American politics. The database was developed as part of the project on Ideology in the Political Marketplace, which is an on-going effort to conduct a comprehensive ideological mapping of political elites, interest groups, and donors using the common-space CFscore scaling methodology (Bonica 2013). Constructing the database required a large-scale effort to compile, clean, and process data on contribution records, candidate characteristics, and election outcomes from various sources. The resulting database contains over 100 million political contributions made by individuals and organizations to local, state, and federal elections spanning a period from 1979 to 2012. A corresponding database of candidates and committees provides additional information on state and federal elections."
Motivations for the database's creation include: "to make data on campaign finance and elections (1) more centralized and accessible, (2) easier to work with, and (3) more versatile in terms of the types of questions that can be addressed." Housed at Stanford University, the database website requires users wishing to access the data to establish an account (free of charge) and includes direct access to a codebook.
In Quantifying Legislative Uncertainty: A Case Study in Tax Policy, Jason Oh (UCLA) and Christopher Tausanovitch (UCLA--Poli Sci) set out to articulate (and test) an empirical model designed to quantify when a legislative body will (or will not) enact law. The paper nests this difficult conceptual task in the federal income tax context. More specifically, the paper presents a "model of legislator preferences on tax rates and show that the political process can be well understood in terms of the preferences of key legislators. We use our statistical model to quantify the uncertainty of tax rates and forecast the direction of likely rate changes in the future."
The paper--and argument--stimulate an array of implications and take-aways. "First, quantifying legislative uncertainty offers insight into the behavioral effects of the law. How people respond to the law depends on their perception of the law’s future trajectory. Second, our analysis allows us to explore the stability of major legislative reform. Our methodology allows us to demonstrate that reforms are sometimes predictably unstable. Such reforms can have the perverse result of increasing future legislative uncertainty."
Cornell Law School will host its Junior Empirical Legal Scholars Workshop next weekend in Ithaca, NY. Similar to past workshops, "Junior" is defined to include pre-tenure (or pre-tenure-track) individuals who, through their early empirical scholarship, have demonstrated considerable scholarly promise. At the Workshop, each junior presenter is matched with a field-appropriate "senior" empirical legal scholar discussant. The 2015 Junior scholars reflect a diverse range of academic disciplines and include: Maya Sen (Harvard), Sarath Sanga (UC Berkeley), William Hubbard (Chicago), Jed Stiglitz (Cornell), Jacob Goldin (Princeton), and Avani Sood (UC Berkeley).
No doubt partly prompted by a recent spate of academic fraud, Science magazine published results from a study that set out to replicate 100 published psychology studies. An "international team of experts," however, could "reproduce only 36% of original findings." (News coverage here.) While I'm sure many in the psychology field will seek to explain such findings, an inability to replicate 74% of studies published in "top" psychology journals is, at the very least, jarring.
Over at The Faculty Lounge blog, Michael Risch (Villanova) dissects a pair of papers that seek to empirically assess whether "law clinic opportunities are likely to improve a school’s graduates’ employment outcomes."
A paper by Jason Yackee (Wisconsin), Does Experiential Learning Improve JD Employment Outcomes?, finds that "there is not much evidence that law schools that provide greater opportunities for skills training have substantially better employment outcomes than do those law schools that provide fewer opportunities.” A subsequent paper by Robert Kuehn (Wash U), Measuring Legal Education's Employment Outcomes, however, concludes that the "expanded empirical analysis finds it is not possible to draw any reliable conclusion from his models about the likely effects of law clinic courses, or other activities like law journal and interschool skills competitions, on employment outcomes, and surely not any negative suggestion about clinic opportunities or participation. The most realistic conclusion from available data is that nationwide models provide inconclusive results, as they do not achieve statistical significance and yield both positive and inverse relationships depending on the year of graduation, control variables, and outliers. In fact, other evidence shows that law clinic experiences are important to potential employers and do aid some students in securing employment."
Setting aside the overheated rhetoric that frequently accompanies discussions about clinical and "experiential" law school offerings, the pair of papers, taken together, illustrates the potential complexities incident to modeling something as complex as legal employment outcomes.