Professor Florian M. Hollenbach
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: fhollenbach.org
Office: 2061 Allen Building; Phone: 979-845-5021
Office Hours: Wedneday 1:00pm to 3:00pm or by appointment
Class Meeting Time:
Mondays, 1:40pm - 4:30pm
Class Location: Bush Academic Building West (ALLN) 2115
The syllabus on my website http://fhollenbach.github.io/Pols621_2019 will be continuously updated to reflect any schedule changes. Additional material will be posted on the shared Google Team Drive.
All assignments are to be submitted electronically via email to email@example.com
The goal of this course is to familiarize PhD students with the various existing approaches to comparative politics research. We will cover different strategies and methods of how to produce high quality research. The course is designed so that students will encounter a number of different perspectives on research in the field of comparative politics. Topics range from concept formation, case selection, case studies, to concepts of causal inference, experiments, and mixed methods. Students will learn how to evaluate other scholars’ research but also practice skills to develop their own research designs. While most readings focus on research design and methods, we will pursue a “hands-on” approach and read as well as replicate applied work (where possible). At the end students should understand the most common approaches to studying comparative politics in the discipline today.
At the end of the semester, after completing this course, students are expected to:
- problems of case selection,
- the concept of causality and experimental designs
- Be able to understand and apply methods commonly used for inference in observational settings
- Have developed skills to critically evaluate research & for designing their own research projects
COURSE STRUCTURE & REQUIREMENTS:
The class will meet once a week from 1:40pm to 4:30pm on Mondays. Generally you should expect classes to be about one hour of lecturing and 90 minutes of discussion. We will cover a variety of concepts, sometimes complicated. I expect you to have done all of the required reading before sending discussion questions. Even when I lecture, I want you to ask questions and participate actively. In the second part of class we will discuss the readings and applications in more of a group setting. We will also try to work through example applications whenever possible. It is important that you somewhat familiarize yourself with R in the first few weeks of the semester.
GRADING & RESPONSIBILITIES:
Your grade will be based on the following:
- Participation (5%)
- Two discussion questions for every class session (10%)
- One in-class presentation (15%)
- Two paper reviews, simulating a review for the APSR/AJPS/JOP (20%)
- Motivation of Research Question, i.e., paper Introduction (15%)
- Final Project Research Design Presentation (15%)
- NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant proposal (20%)
To facilitate discussion, please send two discussion questions about the readings/class topic at 9 am on the day of our class meeting. These could be questions about things you do not understand or criticisms/suggestions about the readings. I will post the collection of your questions to the Google Team Drive by 10:30 am. Please try review them briefly before class.
You will work in teams of two or three to prepare one presentation about an applied paper for one of the class sessions. Your presentation should be a discussion of the paper, include a replication, and potential improvements. You should be critical but constructive. Focus especially on the research design and analysis. If possible, we may try to establish a video conference with the author(s).
- Pick two papers from the list provided in the Google Team Drive. I will assign each of you two due dates for reviews based on your ranked preferences. You should write a review of these papers as if you are reviewing for the APSR/AJPS/JOP. Your review should be at least 1 page single-spaced. On the Google Drive you can find some example reviews done by A&M faculty in previous years (do not share these reviews). Here are some links that may be helpful:
- AJPS Instructions
- JOP Instructions
- Miller, Beth & Pevehouse, Jon & Rogowski, Ron & Tingley, Dustin & Wilson, Rick. 2013. “How To Be a Peer Reviewer: A Guide for Recent and Soon-to-be PhDs.” PS: Political Science & Politics. 46(1):120-123.
- Krupnikov & Levine: Offering (Constructive) Criticism When Reviewing (Experimental) Research
- Nyhan: A Checklist Manifesto for Peer Review
- Humphreys on Discussing and Reviewing
- Submit a 1-2 page (double spaced) introduction/motivation for your research project. Effectively this should be written like the introduction to an article submission. The introduction should be about the same topic/question as your research design and optimally you will want this to be about (or related to) a possible dissertation topic. The introduction needs to clearly state the question you want to answer, why the reader should care (the puzzle), what and how your work contributes to the literature, and a preview (one paragraph) of the research design. I will meet with each of you to provide feedback to you on the introduction during office hours. This assignment is due on: 03/25/2019 Two links that might be helpful when writing the introduction:
- The final project in this class is to submit a project description for an application to the NSF Dissertation Improvement Grants. Specifically, you should combine the introduction to your research question with a research design section. After receiving feedback on the introduction, you will give a short presentation of your research design during our last class session on 04/29/2019. The final version of the project description will be due on 05/06/2019. We will talk more about the research design requirements in class and you can find information about the NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant here. The goal is for you to be able to submit an application on June 15, 2019. Make sure to prepare for this deadline and talk to your adviser about submitting an application.
Your written assignments will be graded on both content and quality of writing. You can find helpful links on how to write well here: http://fhollenbach.org/WritingAcademic/. Writing is one of the most fundamental skills for academics. All of us struggle and it requires a lot of practice. Do not hesitate to ask for help. If you are having trouble with it, please come see me or visit the University Writing Center (see below).
The grading scale (in %) used in this class for all written assignments, and the overall class grade will be the following:
- A= 89.5
- B= 79.5–<89.5
- C= 69.5–<79.5
- D= 59.5–<69.5
The University Writing Center (UWC), located in 1.214 Sterling C. Evans Library and 205 West Campus Library, offers one-on-one consultations to writers. To find out more about UWC services or to schedule an appointment, call 458-1455, visit the web page at writingcenter.tamu.edu, or stop by in person.
All students should follow the highest standards of academic integrity. Cheating or plagiarism will not be tolerated in any way. If you are unsure what entails plagiarism, come talk to me. For more info, see: http://student-rules.tamu.edu/aggiecode & http://aggiehonor.tamu.edu. “An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do.” Any cases of cheating or plagiarism will be submitted to the academic honor council, no exceptions.
READINGS & SOFTWARE:
We will be reading both articles and book chapters throughout the semester. Readings under the header Additional Readings are not required, but suggestions for those interested. I expect you to do all the required readings prior to sending your discussion questions on Monday morning. Some of the weeks have substantial amounts of readings, make sure you start early enough. Additionally, some of the methodological work is hard. It is okay if you do not fully understand everything before coming to class, that is what our class meetings are for. Nevertheless, you should read carefully and at least try to understand each article/chapter. We will talk more about how to read in our first meeting. Since we will use them a lot, you acquire the following books.
- Dunning, Thad. 2012. “Natural Experiments in Social Sciences.” Cambridge University Press. (denoted NESS below)
- Seawright, Jason. 2016. “Multi-Method Social Science.” Cambridge University Press. (denoted MMSS below)
- Angrist, Joshua and Pischke, Joern-Steffen. 2014. “Mastering Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect.” Princeton University Press. (denoted MM below)
- King, Gary and Keohane, Robert O. and Verba, Sidney. 1994. “Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research}’’. Princeton University Press.” (denoted KKV below)
For part of this class we will be working on the computer with statistical software. We will use the statistical programming language R. R is available for download here:. I would recommend you download R-Studio, which is a software that makes the use of R much easier. You can download R-Studio here:. Both R and R-Studio are free.
CLASSROOM BEHAVIOR, PARTICIPATION, & ELECTRONIC DEVICES:
I expect you to attend class unless circumstances prohibit you from doing so. If you must miss class, please let me know in advance. You are still responsible to do the readings and submit discussion questions and assignments, even if you are missing class. If you are sick, however, it is best to stay home.
I strongly encourage everybody to participate in class discussion. Please be respectful to your fellow class mates, do not interrupt them, and wait until called upon.
I strongly encourage you to not use a laptop in class, unless we are working together in R. Laptops have been shown to be a distraction not only to the students using them but also fellow class mates. A recent study has found that not having laptops in class can have a similar effect as hiring a SAT tutor. If you think you have good reasons for why you need to use a computer, however, you may do so.
In addition, please make sure your cell phones are on silent mode and refrain from using them during class time.
ABSENCES & LATE POLICY:
Except in the case of observance of a religious holiday, to be excused, the student must notify his or her instructor in writing (acknowledged e-mail message is acceptable) prior to the date of absence. In cases where advance notification is not feasible (e.g. accident or emergency) the student must provide notification by the end of the second working day after the absence. This notification should include an explanation of why the notice could not be sent prior to the class. Accommodations sought for absences due to the observance of a religious holiday can be sought either prior or after the absence, but not later than two working days after the absence. Legitimate circumstances include religious holidays, illness, serious family emergencies and participation in group activities sponsored by the University, etc. See http://student-rules.tamu.edu/rule07 for additional information.
All assignments are due on their due date at the beginning of class. Unexcused late work will be penalized by a 7.5 percentage point deduction for each 24hrs your work is late. For example, if you hand in the assignment on the same day it is due, but after class, your maximum score will be 92.5%. If you hand in your assignment more than 24hrs late, e.g., 1:45 pm the next day, your maximum score will be 85%, after 48hrs it would be 77.5%, and so on. Late work will be excused only in the case of university-excused absences. Only under extreme circumstance will I make exceptions to these rules.
Students that want to appeal a grade received on an exam or assignment must submit a regrading request in written form (e.g., email). This request has to be turned in within five working days after the graded exams or assignments are returned to the class. The written statement must explain exactly why the student believes the current grade is incorrect. I will then regrade the entire assignment extra carefully. NOTE, as a consequence your grade may go up or down.
The best place to ask questions is in the classroom. If your question is not related to class material or relevant to other students, we can discuss it after class. I encourage you to visit my office hours to discuss any difficulties with the readings or class.
You can generally expect me to reply to emails within 24 hours during the work week.
All discussions will remain confidential. University policy is in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Policy Statement. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Disability Services, currently located in the Disability Services building at the Student Services at White Creek complex on west campus or call 979-845-1637. For additional information, visit http://disability.tamu.edu.
Reasonable accommodations will be made for all students with disabilities, but it is the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor early in the term. Do not wait until just before an exam to decide you want to inform the instructor of a learning disability; any accommodations for disabilities must be arranged well in advance.
The Department of Political Science supports the Texas A&M University commitment to diversity, and welcomes individuals from any racial, ethnic, religious, age, gender, sexual orientation, class, disability, and nationality. (See http://diversity.tamu.edu/. In the spirit of this vital commitment, in this course each voice in the classroom has something of value to contribute to all discussions.
Everyone is expected to respect the different experiences, beliefs and values expressed by fellow students and the instructor, and will engage in reasoned discussion that refrains from derogatory comments about other people, cultures, groups, or viewpoints.
Changes to Syllabus
I reserve the right to update/modify/clarify the syllabus with advance notification.
Week 1 (01/14)
- Introduction, Syllabus, Logistics
Is the science of comparative politics possible?
- Boix, Carles & Susan C. Stokes. 2009. “Introduction.” Boix, Carles and Susan C. Stokes (eds.): Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press (On Google Team Drive)
- Lijphart, Arend. (1971). “Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method.” American Political Science Review, 65(3), 682-693.
- Przeworski, Adam (2007): “Is the Science of Comparative Politics Possible?” Boix, Carles and Susan C. Stokes (eds.): Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 147-171. (On Google Team Drive)
- Hall, Peter A. (2003): “Aligning Ontology and Methodology in Comparative Research.” In: Mahoney, James and Dietrich Rueschemeyer (eds.): Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 373-404. (On Google Team Drive)
(1/21): No Class; MLK day
Week 2 (01/28): Concepts & Measurement
- Sartori, Giovanni. 1970. “Concept Misinformation in Comparative Politics.” American Political Science Review 64(4): 1033-1053.
- Collier, David, and James E. Mahon. 1993. “Conceptual Stretching Revisited: Adapting Categories in Comparative Analysis.” American Political Science Review 87(4): 845-855.
- KKV Chapters 1 & 2
- Treier, Shawn and Jackman, Simon. 2008. “Democracy as a Latent Variable.” American Journal of Political Science. 52(1):201-217
- Goertz, Gary. 2006. “Social Science Concepts: A User’s Guide.” Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Week 3 (02/04): Models and Theory
- Geddes, Barbara. 2003.”Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics.” University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor Chapter 2 (available electronically through library)
- Gerring, John. 2011. “Social Science Methodology : A Unified Framework.” Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA. Chapter 3 (available electronically through library)
- Clarke, Kevin A., and David M. Primo. 2007. “Modernizing Political Science: A Model- Based Approach.” Perspectives on Politics. 5(4): 741-753.
- Svolik, Milan. 2013. “Learning to Love Democracy: Electoral Accountability, Government Performance, and the Consolidation of Democracy.” American Journal of Political Science. 57(3): 685-702.
- Joo Won
Week 4 (02/11): Case Selection
- Geddes, Barbara. 2003.”Paradigms and Sand Castles: Theory Building and Research Design in Comparative Politics.” University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor Chapters 3 & 4 (available electronically through library)
- MMSS Chapter 4
- KKV Chapter 4
- Gerring, John. 2007. “Case Study Research: Principles and Practices.” Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA. Chapter 4
Week 5 (02/18): Case Studies & Analytical Narratives (virtual visit by David Skarbek)
Presentation: Niels, Swarup
- Gerring, John. 2007. “Case Study Research: Principles and Practices.” Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA. Chapter 3 (on Google Team Drive)
- MMSS: Chapter 3
- Levi, Margaret and Weingast, Barry R. 2017. “Analytic Narratives, Case Studies, and Development.” Working Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2835704 (on Google Team Drive)
- KKV section 6.1 (pages 208-213)
Applications (pick one):
- Skarbek, David. 2011. “Governance and Prison Gangs.” American Political Science Review. 105(4): 702–16.
- Weyland, Kurt. 2016. “Crafting Counterrevolution: How Reactionaries Learned to Combat Change in 1848.” American Political Science Review. 110(2): 215–31.
- Gerring, John. 2007. “Case Study Research: Principles and Practices.” Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA.
- Skarbek, David. 2016. “Covenants without the Sword? Comparing Prison Self-Governance Globally.” American Political Science Review. 110(4): 845–62.
Week 6 (02/25): Concepts of Causal Inference
- Imbens, Guido and Rubin, Donald D. 2015. “Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences: An Introduction.” Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA. Chapters 1 & 2: pages 3–30 (On Google Team Drive)
- Rubin, Donald 2005. “Causal Inference Using Potential Outcomes.” Journal of the American Statistical Association. 100(469):322–331.
- Pearl, Judea and Glymour, Madelyn and Jewell, Nicholas P. 2016. “Causal Inference in Statistics : A Primer.” John Wiley & Sons: West Sussex, UK. Skim Chapter 1 as necessary, Read Chapter 2 (available electronically through library)
- KKV: Chapter 3
- Cunningham: Chapters “Directed acyclical graphs” & “Potential outcomes causal model”
Week 7 (03/04): Discovering Natural Experiments & Diff-in-Diffs
Presentation: Rena, Christy
- Dunning: Chapters 1 & 2
- Sekhon, Jasjeet S. and Titiunik, Rocio. 2012. “When Natural Experiments Are Neither Natural nor Experiments.” American Political Science Review. 106(1):35–57.
Applications (pick two):
- Galiani, Sebastian and Ernesto Schargrodsky. 2010. “Property Rights for the Poor: Effects of Land Titling.” Journal of Public Economics 94(9):700-729.
- Blattman, Christopher and Jeannie Annan, 2010. “The Consequences of Child Soldiering.” The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press 92(4): 882-898.
- Hainmueller, Jens, and Hangartner, Dominik. 2013. “Who Gets a Swiss Passport? A Natural Experiment in Immigrant Discrimination.” American Political Science Review. 107(1):159–187
- MMSS Chapter 6
(03/11) No Class; Spring Break
Week 8 (03/18) Text as Data (visit by Molly Roberts)
Presentation: Jongwoo & John
- Grimmer, Justin and Roberts, Margaret E. and Stewart, Brandon M. Chapter 2. (on Google Team Drive) (do not share)
- Lucas, Christopher and Nielsen, Richard and Roberts, Margaret E. and Stewart, Brandon M. and Storer, Alex and Tingley, Dustin. 2014. “Computer Assisted Text Analysis for Comparative Politics.” Political Analysis. 23(2): 254-277.
- Grimmer, Justin and Stewart, Brandon M. 2013. “Text as Data: The Promise and Pitfalls of Automatic Content Analysis Methods for Political Texts.” Political Analysis. 21(3): 267–97. (skim)
Applications (pick one):
- King, Gary and Pan, Jennifer and Roberts, Margaret E. 2017. “How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument.” American Political Science Review. 111(3): 484-501.
- Baerg, Nicole and Will Lowe. 2018. “A Textual Taylor Rule: Estimating Central Bank Preferences Combining Topic and Scaling Methods.” Political Science Research and Methods. First View.
- Silge, Julia and Robinson, David. 2017. “Text Mining with R: A Tidy Approach.” O’Reilly Media: Sebastopol, CA. Available here: https://www.tidytextmining.com/
Week 9 (03/25) Regression Discontinuity (virtual visit by Pablo Querubin)
Presentation: Joo Won & Andrea
Submit Introduction/Research Motivation
- Dunning: Chapter 3 & section 5.2
- MM: chapter 4
Applications (pick two):
- Dell, Melissa. 2010. “The Persistent Effects of Peru’s Mining Mita.” Econometrica 78(6): 1863-1903.
- Dell, Melissa, and Pablo Querubin. 2018. “Nation Building Through Foreign Intervention: Evidence from Discontinuities in Military Strategies.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 133(2): 701-764.
- Brollo, Fernanda and Nannicini, Tommaso. 2012. “Tying Your Enemy’s Hands in Close Races: The Politics of Federal Transfers in Brazil.” American Political Science Review. 106(4): 742–61.
- Szakonyi, David. 2018. “Businesspeople in Elected Office: Identifying Private Benefits from Firm-Level Returns.” American Political Science Review. 112(2): 322–338.
- Cunningham: chapter “Regression discontinuity”
- Cattaneo, Matias D. and Idrobo, Nichol`as and Titiunik, Roc'io. 2018. “A Practical Introduction to Regression Discontinuity Designs: Volume II” Cambridge Elements: Quantitative and Computational Methods for Social Science. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA. http://www-personal.umich.edu/~titiunik/books/CattaneoIdroboTitiunik2018-Cambridge-Vol2.pdf
- Calonico, Sebastian and Cattaneo, Matias D. and Titiunik, Rocio. 2014. “Robust nonparametric confidence intervals for regression-discontinuity designs. Econometrica. 82(6):2295-2326.
- Eggers, Andrew C. and Freier, Ronny and Grembi, Veronica and Nannicini, Tommaso. 2018. “Regression Discontinuity Designs Based on Population Thresholds: Pitfalls and Solutions.” American Journal of Political Science. 62(1):210-229.
Week 10 (04/01) Instrumental Variables
Presentation: Emily & Ali
- Dunning: chapter 4 & section 5.3
- MM: chapter 3
Applications (pick two):
- Acharya, Avidit and Blackwell, Matthew and Sen, Maya. 2016. “The Political Legacy of American Slavery.” The Journal of Politics. 78(3): 621-641.
- Nunn Nathan. 2008. “The Long Term Effects of Africa’s Slave Trades.” Quarterly Journal of Economics. 123(1):139-176.
- Trounstine, Jessica. 2016.”Segregation and Inequality in Public Goods.” American Journal of Political Science. 60(3): 709-725.
- Acemoglu, Daron and Johnson, Simon and J.Robinson. 2001. “The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation.” American Economic Review. 91(5):1369–1401
- Cunningham: chapter “Instrumental variables”
- Betz, Timm and Cook, Scott J. and Hollenbach, Florian M. 2019. “Spatial Interdependence and Instrumental Variable Models.”. Political Science Research and Methods. In Print.
Week 11 (04/08) Experiments (visit by Jessica Gottlieb)
- MM: Chapter 1
- Duflo, Esther, Rachel Glennerster and Michael Kremer. 2007. “Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit.” http://economics.mit.edu/files/806 Chapters 4 & 5
Applications (pick two):
- Habyarimana, Humphreys, Posner, and Weinstein. 2006. “Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision? An Experimental Approach.” American Political Science Review. 109(4): 709-726.
- Paler, Laura. 2013. “Keeping the Public Purse: An Experiment in Windfalls, Taxes, and the Incentives to Restrain Government.” American Political Science Review 104(7): 706-725.
- Grossman, Guy, and Michelitch, Kristin. 2018. “Information Dissemination, Competitive Pressure, and Politician Performance between Elections: A Field Experiment in Uganda.” American Political Science Review. 112(2): 280–301.
- Raffler, Pia. 2018. “Does Political Oversight of the Bureaucracy Increase Accountability? Field Experimental Evidence from an Electoral Autocracy.”. Working Paper. link
- Gottlieb, Jessica. 2016. “Greater Expectations? A Field Experiment to Improve Accountability in Mali.” American Journal of Political Science. 60(1): 143-157.
- MMSS Chapter 7
Week 12 (04/15) Surveys & Survey Experiments (virtual visit by Jason Lyall)
Presentation: Lauren & Nasim
- Fowler, Floyd J. 2009. “Applied Social Research Methods: Survey research methods (4th ed.).” SAGE Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA. Chapters 1 - 3 (available electronically through library)
- Hainmueller, Jens and Hangartner, Dominik and Yamamoto, Teppei. 2015. “Do survey experiments capture real-world behavior?” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/01/28/1416587112.short
Applications (pick two):
- Lyall, Jason and Blair, Graeme and Imai, Kosuke. 2013. “Explaining Support for Combatants during Wartime: A Survey Experiment in Afghanistan.” American Political Science Review. 107(4):679–705.
- Frye, Timothy. 2006. “Original Sin, Good Works, and Property Rights in Russia: Evidence from a Survey Experiment.” World Politics 58(4):479-504.
- Malesky, Eddy J. and Gueorguiev, Dimitar D. and Jensen, Nathan M. 2015. “Monopoly Money: Foreign Investment and Bribery in Vietnam, a Survey Experiment.” American Journal of Political Science. 59(2):419-439.
- Blair, Graeme, Kosuke Imai, and Jason Lyall. 2014. “Comparing and Combining List and Endorsement Experiments: Evidence from Afghanistan.” American Journal of Political Science. 58(4):1043-1063.
- Joo Won
Week 13 (04/22) Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence
- Humphreys, Macarten, and Alan M. Jacobs. 2015. “Mixing Methods: A Bayesian Approach.” American Political Science Review. 109(4): 653-673.
- MMSS Chapter 8
- Lieberman, Evan I. 2005. “Nested Analysis as a Mixed-Method Strategy for Comparative Research.” American Political Science Review. 99(3): 435-452.
Applications (pick one):
- Nichter, Simeon and Peress, Michael. 2017. “Request Fulfilling: When Citizens Demand Clientelist Benefits.” Comparative Political Studies. 50(8): 1086–1117.
- Lyall, Jason and Wilson III, Isaiah. 2009. “Rage Against the Machines: Explaining Outcomes in Counterinsurgency Wars.” International Organization. 63(1): 67–106.
Week 14 (04/29) Research Design Presentations
Week 15 (05/06)
Final Research Design & NSF Proposal Project Description due