LIEPP Brown Bag Methodological Seminars

Coordination : Emanuele Ferragina & Jan Rovny

The policy cycle is characterized by different sequences related to each other with a process of continuous feedback. First, there is a wide array of actors and factors that influence policy formation, spanning from institutional and historical contexts, to the political interaction between voters, parties, and organized interests with the government and the political decision. Second, there is the actual execution and implementation of public policies. Finally, there are societal and economic outcomes that these policies engender. Cyclically, the outcomes then again influence policy formation. All these aspects of policy formation, implementation and evaluation can be analyzed through the lenses of different scholarly disciplines, as the lively research in LIEPP demonstrates. Arguably, all scholars working on public policies are interested in at least of one of these phases and/or their interactions. 

We believe that, across different disciplines and approaches of social sciences, and across the different components of this simple framework, Science Po scholars share a number of unifying methodological elements. All scholars seeking to empirically investigate public policy and its evaluation need to consider issues of conceptualization, measurement/assessment, and comparison/analysis across cases and/or over time. The laboratory for evaluation of public policies (LIEPP) aims to be a platform where these shared issues can be discussed and further elaborated. While the interdisciplinarity of LIEPP ensures a broad range of approaches, we believe that many of these approaches need to grapple with comparable methodological considerations and challenges.

Hence, we propose to both connect and enrich these diverse approaches by creating a LIEPP informal seminar series mostly concerned with the discussion of methodological issues when analyzing public policies.  

The main aim is to develop a more informed and conscious use of diverse methodological techniques that can foster and enrich our substantive debates around public policies. Contributors to the seminars may be researchers form Sciences po as well as invited researchers.

The seminar will take the following form

A paper is circulated in advance among the members of the seminar group.

The seminar will take place at lunchtime for one and a half hour. The discussion is shortly introduced by the author (no more than 15 min.) 

The format might be slightly different for invited scholars external to Sciences po (longer seminars).

The seminars might enhance at least two kinds of potential benefits.

(1) Engender a community of scholars interested in research methodology in the context of LIEPP. Thanks to the focus on methods, this community will span various disciplines and substantive research topics. It will allow for greater interdisciplinary contact and potential research cooperation. 

(2) Allow LIEPP to contribute to methods instruction and skill development at Sciences Po. The seminars will help to share expertise in research methods aimed at the study of policy formulation, development and evaluation. The seminar aims to augment and disseminate research methods awareness and skills in the larger Sciences Po community. 


The seminar proposed during the series could take various forms and serve different aims. Here we propose four modalities.

1. ‘Method Clinics’

These seminars aim to present a substantive methodological problem experienced by a doctoral student or a scholar during the elaboration of a research. In this case the friendly and informal LIEPP environment would help to collectively formulate suggestions to improve the paper.

 2. ‘Methodological Reflection’    

These seminars would have a general configuration in which a scholar will present a current research question and discuss potential different methodological approaches to answer it. 

3. ‘Methods in Action’

These seminars would be consecrated to a presentation from a scholar expert in a specific method and able to illustrate it to our community with a specific (or a series) of examples.

4. “R & R Seminars”

A researcher will present a paper and the feedback he received for an ‘R & R’ from an academic review. These seminars would support the author of the paper but also provide interesting insights to doctoral students and researcher on how to approach feedback and critics from academic journals.


November 15, 12:30 - 14:00: "Dealignment Meets Cleavage Theory: Assessing Electoral Stability in Europe" - Jan Rovny. Register here.

December 13, 12:30 - 14:00: "Between X and Y: how process tracing contributes to opening the black box of causality" - Bruno Palier. Register here.

Call for papers for other sessions.



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