Operational definition: Itemized receipts of daily campaign contributions made to each presidential candidate (FEC Database) (Haynes, Crespin, Zorn (2004) )
Concept: legislator ideology
Operational definition: Legislator ratings from Americans for Democratic Action, which is set on a 100-point scale, 0 being “most conservative” and 100 “most liberal.”
What about corruption?
How would one operationalize corruption?
Most define political corruption as the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain.
However, if one were going to going to operationalize political corruption, how would it be measured?
Transparency International is a non-governmental organization that tracks corruption in the public sector around the globe.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) focuses on corruption in the public sector.
Corruption Perceptions Index
The surveys used in compiling the CPI ask questions relating to the abuse of public power for private benefit.
These include questions on:
bribery of public officials
kickbacks in public procurement
embezzlement of public funds
strength and effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts
Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories.
A composite index based on 13 different expert and business surveys.
Is not intended to measure a country's progress over time.
U.S. DOJ Public Integrity section tracks data on the number of federal, state and local government officials prosecuted and convicted for corruption crimes.
The data the provide the number of people prosecuted by each U.S. Attorneys office.
Corruption isn't clearly defined, but cases include election fraud, obstructing an investigation and violation of campaign finance regulations.
1. Abstract concept
2. Conceptual definition
3. Operational definition
The quality of measurements is judged with regard to both accuracy and precision.
Accuracy refers to how close the measure comes to explaining the true value of a concept.
Precision refers to the consistency of the measure in quantifying the concept.
Reliability is the extent to which an experiment, test or any measurement procedure yields the same results in repeated trials.
Test-retest method -- Apply the same test to the same observations after a period of time has passed.
Testing Measures Alternative-form method -- Use two different measures of the same concept rather than the same measure. Ex: Using two different kinds of ideology measures for legislators. NOMINATE scores vs. Interest Group scores
Split-halves method -- Using two different measures with both measures applied at the same time.
Ex: Nominate and IG scores both in the same statistical model
Validity -- the degree of correspondence between the measure and the concept it is thought to measure.
Examples of validity issues -- Native Americans on U.S. Census, racial politics research, election turnout and voting
Face validity is asserted by arguing that a measure corresponds closely to the concept it is designed to measure.
(Ex: Party ID and Ideology)
To confirm the validity of ideology and political party identification measures, I could examine their relationship:
Political Party U.S. Senate U.S. House Republicans 20 16 Democrats 87 92 2007 ADA score based on a 100-point scale, with 0 meaning “always votes conservative” and 1 meaning “always votes liberal.” The measure is typically based on 20 voters in the 2008 congressional session. Senators of interest: Obama: 75 (15 votes 15/15) McCain: 10 (15 votes 2/15)
Content validity is demonstrated by ensuring that the full domain of a concept is measured.
Example: Dahl’s polyarchy
Polyarchy , according to Dahl, is a form of representative democracy characterized by a particular set of political institutions. These include elected officials, free and fair elections, inclusive suffrage, the right to run for office, freedom of expression , alternative information and associational autonomy.
Domain: Dahl book
Construct validity is demonstrated for a measure by showing that it is related to the measure of another concept.
Ex: Ideological identification and level of education.
Inter-item association relies on the similarity of outcomes of more than one measure of a concept to demonstrate the validity of the entire measurement scheme.
Ex: Candidate strength can be cross validated by comparing measures of campaign funds, polling numbers, primary votes and newspaper coverage.
A correlation indicates the direction and strength of a linear relationship between two random variables.