Workshop: Advances in Experimental Political Science

Project: Research project

Project Details


Experiments are a central methodology in political science. Scholars from every subfield regularly turn to experiments. Practitioners rely on experimental evidence in evaluating social programs, policies, institutions, and information provision. It is thus not surprising that experiments constitute an integral part of undergraduate and graduate curricula. Over the last five years, approaches to social science experimentation have evolved greatly, due in part to the "replication crisis" - that is, findings of low replication rates of experiments. At the same time, political scientists have expanded the reach of experiments by tapping new data sources (e.g., elite samples) and introducing methods that had previously received scant attention in the discipline (e.g., conjoint experiments).

In order to ensure that the discipline successfully navigates questions about the reliability and replicability of experiments and fully exploits methodological advances, the project would gather participants for a workshop, "Advances in Experimental Political Science." The workshop papers will later be published in a volume by the same name. This is a follow-up to a 2009 workshop on experimentation supported by the National Science Foundation, and the resulting publication of the widely-used Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science (2011). That workshop and volume came at a time when experiments were still an emergent methodology in political science. The aforementioned debates and developments mean that we are now at a crucial time to hold another workshop and publish a new collected volume.

The intellectual merit of the proposal involves developing and providing state-of-the-art reviews of best practices in light of developments in experimental political science. Further, the workshop and volume will educate the next generation of students. The volume will presumably be used in instructional courses. Additionally, students will have direct involvement in the workshop. As with previous workshops that I have overseen, graduate students will be invited to apply to attend the workshop. Those accepted will be matched with faculty attendees for meals during the workshop. This will afford graduate students an opportunity to seek advice on their research projects. In the past, this approach has led to many long-term mentoring relationships and collaborations. In selecting graduate student attendees, an effort will be made to include students from under-represented groups and from institutions that do not offer curricula in experimental methodology.

The broader impact of the workshop and volume will involve making new methods accessible to applied researchers and practitioners who rely on experiments for evaluative purposes. Additionally, scholars will learn how to better assess experimental evidence and credibly communicate relevant findings to broad audiences across social, political, and economic domains. In sum, experiments are a central method used by scholars throughout political science. Recent developments raise new challenges for experimental methodology; a workshop and volume along the proposed lines will ensure that the next generation of scholars will be prepared to meet these challenges.
Effective start/end date8/15/1810/31/20


  • National Science Foundation (SES-1822286)

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