Monthly Archives: August 2013

About “The Gender Gap in IR and Political Science”

This is my first post on and from APSA 2013 in Chicago. It concerns the increasingly intense debate on a gender gap in International Relations and Political Science. This issue has been raised from different angles and at different places, e.g. the discussion on networking over at the Duck . Another object that fueled recent discussions is the article “The Gender Citation Gap in IR” by Daniel Maliniak, Ryan Powers and Barbara Walter published in the latest issue of IO (see here). Since Maliniak et al. work with citation data, as do I, and are direct colleagues of mine at TRIP, it was their contribution to the panel that attracted my attention in the first place. However, the overall event turned out to me very inspiring and I would like to share the panelists’ main points with you.

Continue reading About “The Gender Gap in IR and Political Science”

German Foreign Policy Bingo


On Sunday, September 1st, all major TV channels in Germany will broadcast the first (and only) “duel” between Angela Merkel and her challenger in the upcoming federal elections, Peer Steinbrück. As we have criticized in a previous post, both are not exactly known for their visionary positions on foreign policy.

Nonetheless, we will make sure to watch the show. In particular, we’ll pay close attention to any mentions of foreign policy and international affairs.

And to make things more interesting, we suggest you gather a group of friends for a round of “German foreign policy bingo”! We’ve come up with 24 topics that could be featured in Sunday’s debate and created a set of randomized bingo sheets. Please download, print, and share them with your friends:

German Foreign Policy Bingo [PDF with 12 sheets]

PS. For added fun, turn this into a drinking game! Take a shot for every topic that is mentioned, and prepare a bottle of champagne for the lucky winner (in case the candidates actually talk about foreign policy enough to fill a row on the card).

PPS. Think we missed an important topic? Just create your own version (and share it in the comments if you like)! Our word list for convenient copy & paste: Continue reading German Foreign Policy Bingo

Elections in Germany: Forecasts and Polls

The election campaign in Germany is about to gather speed with less than 30 days left until election day. I assume we’re going to cover that in more depth soon, too. For now, I can direct you to the Hertie School’s Expert Blog on the German Federal Elections in 2013 in case you have not checked it out yet. They cover a plethora of topics from labour market policies and the German Energiewende to gender equality and family policy.

So let me do the kick-off for some posts that will appear on this blog over the next couple of weeks. Yet, this is not about politics but looks at polling and forecasting in the German case, thereby briefly touching upon some of the recent trends of the German political landscape. I will point out some of the flaws of both polling and forecasts. However, don’t misread the point: I’m not against polls and forecasts as such and have lots of fun following the respective discussion throughout the year. But we should not overemphasize these results, either, as both do not come without problems.

Continue reading Elections in Germany: Forecasts and Polls

The Cultural Impact of Blogs: Awareness, Affinity, Reflection

A map of the traffic to this blog. Darker color = higher share of visitors.
A map of the traffic to this blog. Darker color = higher share of visitors. and Google’s Internet and Society Collaboratory are running a “blog carnival”, inviting comments on the cultural aspects of Internet-driven globalization. They’ve asked the following questions:

“Do globalized telecommunications and communication across borders and cultures have any impact on intercultural practices? Does the Internet create a bigger space for cultural similarities? Or does it instead have the opposite effect? Does it increase awareness of the cultural differences all over the world?”

A few years ago, I watched a TED Talk and read a book by Clay Shirky, who offered an impressive range of examples of the social “surplus” created by the internet. Being a somewhat early adopter of technology as well as an avid user/consumer of social media, I have made many of these positive experiences. Yet a uniform effect on “culture” seems hard to identify: On the one hand, there are scale effects that lead to huge rewards for those who attract the most attention (“there’s only one Google, or maybe three”). On the other, niche markets and social groups also prosper online (Anderson’s “long tail”). So the internet allows you to focus on your obscure obsession, but also makes sure you know about Justin Bieber.

I’ll leave it to more qualified observers to comment in detail on the internet and culture as a whole. What I want to do instead is look at a tiny set of online communications, namely (micro-)blogging about politics and political science.

Continue reading The Cultural Impact of Blogs: Awareness, Affinity, Reflection

The Amateur Forecaster’s Diary Pt. 3

Good Judgment Project

At the beginning of august, the Good Judgment Project (GJP) has kicked off the third round of forecasting. As I’ve described in two earlier blog posts (#1 and #2), the idea is to come up with the best way to predict the outcomes of political negotiations and elections, or just the likelihood of hypothetical events.

I’ve been promoted to one of eight teams of “superforecasters”. One of the perks coming with this upgrade was seeing the training materials before anyone else. The GJP researchers also invited us to a small conference/workshop in Philadelphia to discuss last season and prepare for the new one. I was unable to attend, but the slides were very informative. In addition, each “super” team now has a facilitator assigned to it, who is meant to help with coordination.

According to the info given by Phil Tetlock, the GJP convincingly won the first two rounds of the tournament. The four competing research programs were now shut down and some of their forecasters joined this project. Judging from the GJP’s repeat success, geopolitical forecasting rewards skill rather than luck. This is supported by the GJP’s internal data: 50 of the 60 top forecasters from season 1 ended up at the top in season 2. So there appears to be less regression to the mean than one might expect.

Slide from Phil Tetlock's presentation, illustrating the scale of possible Brier scores for measuring forecast accuracy
This slide from Phil Tetlock’s presentation illustrates the scale of Brier scores for measuring forecast accuracy

Continue reading The Amateur Forecaster’s Diary Pt. 3

Links: Open Access, Teaching, Painful PhD Problems, Quantitative Methods, Maps, and Movies

With the summer break still going on and some more substantive blog posts in the pipeline and waiting to be written, here again some links that I found interesting over the last two weeks – all of them more or less related to the profession.

Publishing and open access. Over at the Disorder of Things, two related articles take up the open access problematique / discussion. The first article has a list presenting seven propositions on open access. This article is followed by an interview with Eva Erman, chief editor of Ethics & Global Politics, a fully open journal. As we all have a more or less clear idea of how running a polsci / IR journal looks like, this interview nicely shows what it means to edit an open access journal.

Teaching. On Inside Higher Ed, Andrew Pegoda has a great essay on lessons learned in college teaching and what he has experienced over the last couple of years. (h/t to DuckPM; in early July, he also published is own thoughts on teaching introduction to international relations)

Methods. After Phil Schrodt revealed he would soon retire, my twitter feed literally exploded. That’s how I noticed a very great article he presented at APSA 2010 proposing the Seven Deadly Sins of Contemporary Quantitative Political Analysis. His seven points are:

1. Greed: Kitchen sink models that ignore the e ffects of collinearity;
2. Pride: Pre-scienti c explanation in the absence of prediction;
3. Sloth: Reanalyzing the same data sets until they scream;
4. Lust: Using complex methods without understanding the underlying assumptions;
5. Wrath: Interpreting frequentist statistics as if they were Bayesian;
6. Gluttony: Linear statistical monoculture at the expense of alternative structures;
7. Envy: Confusing statistical controls and experimental controls

The APSA paper is more fun to read since he provides lots of pop culture allusions and is way more sarcastic than the more polished version he will publish in the Journal of Peace Research, but the latter one is a bit shorter (here). Apparantly, he also plans to expand it into a book.

Fun facts and trivia – it still summer and the more fun stuff should not come off too short:

In case someone is going to ask me once again how / whether my PhD project over the last year, I will just forward this list of 25 deeply painful problems of a PhD student. (h/t to Tobias)

You’re more of the visual learner? You want to know more about the world? Here is a great collection of comparisons portrayed in maps, i.e. countries invaded by Britain or global internet usage based on time of day. (h/t to Zoe)

And, finally, over at Marginal Revolution, two movies have been promoted because they approach the brutality and personal consequences of killing from two highly interesting, but very different point of views. Check out this very succinct review. (h/t to Mathis)

Links: Taking Kids on Field Trips; Forecasting; Cyber Security; Syria’s Future; Football and Violence; New UN Blog; Honest Acknowledgments

Temperatures in Berlin are falling. Let’s wait and see what this means for the blog…

A great match to our little series on parenting:  Kim Yi Dionne writes about “taking children to an African country while you conduct research” (via the Duck)

Jay Ulfelder has two great posts on forecasting. One deals with common “screw-ups” in predictive models. The other is about the ethics of statistical forecasting, and the responsibility of researchers to be honest about their limits:

The fact that we use mathematical equations to generate our forecasts and we can quantify our uncertainty doesn’t always mean that our forecasts are more accurate or more precise than what pundits offer, and it’s incumbent on us to convey those limitations. It’s easy to model things. It’s hard to model them well, and sometimes hard to spot the difference.

Brandon Valeriano offers a comprehensive reading list on cyber security, nicely balancing intro stuff and very specialized articles.

Jeffrey Stacey writes about Syria’s future (“intervening not now but later”), with a big potential role for the EU:

It is difficult to predict which way the current conflict in Syria will end up, as even some sort of stalemate could be the result.  But if opposition forces were ultimately successful in defeating Assad’s forces then it would be difficult for Western governments to ignore their shared security interests in the assurance of post-conflict stability in Syria.

Andrew Bertoli has a paper about nationalism and aggression, arguing that countries that qualify for the football/soccer World Cup behave more aggressively. German weekly Zeit has an interview with him (h/t Tobias Bunde).

Instead of lamenting the state of the German twitter- and blogosphere, let’s try and improve networking! So far, I had completely overlooked the blog “Junge UN Forschung”, written by members of the German junior researcher’s working group for UN studies (h/t Christian Kreuder-Sonnen).

Finally, Dan Drezner offers 15 examples of a world where book acknowledgments are really honest, such as:

I’m grateful to Peter Klugman, a Big Shot in my field who made a useful offhand comment to me once. People reading this will hopefully think I really know him and therefore be impressed.