Election studies: a research data management challenge


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Petcha Kutcha presentation to IASSIST 2012, 38th Annual Conference, Washington DC, June 7, 2012

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  • L: Hello, I am Laurence.A: And I … am Alexia.L: And this is a ballot box, full of mystery and questionsA: Do you know what we need to fully understand the messages hidden in this ballot box? Election studies !!L: This is a complex type of study with diverse types of data. Managing this data will be complicatedA: It is… Let me show you my world
  • L: We find them in North America, Australia and New Zealand, Israel and JapanA: Most democracies produce election studies to make sense of every aspect of their general elections. Their purpose is to test theories of participation, voting behavior and the environment in which elections take placeL: There is a high concentration of them in Europe
  • A: Of course there is an interest to see what happens within countries. But political science is very comparative. Naturally, we want to see what is happening across democraciesL: So, do Canadians vote like Americans? Do the British behave like Germans?A: Not only that. The European Parliament election takes place in 27 countries simultaneously. We need a study for that!
  • L: Retrospective explanations of elections matter. We need to understand why people behave as they did and attempt to predict their future behaviour.A: We need to explain the winners, the losers, and the surprises. What we anticipate the night before, is not always what the day after, brings us.L: Opinion polls may get it wrong.A: Or... in one case the candidate forgot to vote for himself…
  • L: Election studies are like any other form of public opinion research. They are demanding. They take a great deal of preparation.A: Not quite. You cannot do field work just any time you like. There is a difference between them and other forms of public opinion measurement research.L: Election studies are short intense bursts of activity.A: You don’t train for a sprint by running marathons, right?
  • L: At least you have a good idea of when the next election is going to take place. In most countries elections are scheduled regularly… so you can plan.A: However! Some elections are result of crisis. They cannot be predicted, anticipated and they can be very inconvenient.L: Meaning?A: We have not secured funding and the planning is not finished!L: Oh yes, that can cause a lot of problems…
  • A: Election studies have various components. Lacking a data management plan can lead to different teams employing different coding strategiesL: With no strategy, coding of parties can become very confusing very quickly. The voter study team can code the left party one way, the media study team can code it another way.A: And the candidate study team a third way.
  • L: A big part of elections is studying media effects. From campaign literature to party manifestos, from newspaper coverage to election broadcasts. Nowadays we have social media to consider, like these tweets from the recent French presidential election.A: Valuable material, but all owned by somebody, which makes archiving and reuse very problematic.
  • L: And then, there are candidate studies. These people may be candidates for election...A: …in fact they are party leaders in the German parliamentL: …indeed… but believe it or not they are also human beings...with a right to privacy. What do election studies do with candidate studies? How can we protect privacy for data reuse but not comprise data quality?
  • A: Comparative election studies have an additional problem: how do they integrate legal requirements, particularly on data protection and data privacy… in a world full of privacy regulationsL: Things can get even more complicated with the incorporation of new tools for data collection: like internet surveys, social media studies and controlled experiments.
  • L: And then, there is the LynyrdSkynyrd problemA: What, the haircut? All Business in front and party in the back?L: Yes, there is that… but I was thinking more about the changing line ups. How do you ensure consistency as membership of research teams and principal investigators change? These may not be the original members but they still know how to play “Freebird”!
  •  [PAUSE FOR 11 SECONDS] A: And then the big problem: funding. Good quality data collection … costs, and researchers may have to apply for funds for every election periodhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZrgxHvNNUc
  • L: Ok, these are some of the problems. Now let’s look at some solutions. As researchers, what do we want?A: Usable data, comparable across space and timeL: When do we want it?A: The day after the election, please… or at least as soon as possible.L: So, how could we have that without having to mobilize the proletariat and organize mass demonstrations?A: We will walk you through some of our ideas…
  • L: One example is the cooperation between the GLES [gless] the German longitudinal election study and GESIS, the German data archive. GLES [gless] is funded for a long period. It includes GESIS staff as an archive team to coordinate data management, enhancement, dissemination to the research community and migrating the data for long-term preservation into the GESIS collection.
  • Election studies: a research data management challenge

    1. 1. Election studies: a research data management challenge Laurence Horton, Alexia Katsanidou International Data Infrastructures GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences Data Archive for the Social Sciences IASSIST 2012 38th Annual Conference Washington DCThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported June 7, 2012
    2. 2. National election studies Canadian Election Study Swedish National Election Studies (SNES) Japanese Election Study (JES) Norwegian Election Studies British Election Study (BES) Danish Election Study Israel National Election The Studies (INES)American National Election Study German Longitudinal Election (ANES); National Annenberg Study (GLES) Election Study (NAES) Austrian National Election Studies (ANES) Dutch Parliamentary Election Study (DPES) Swiss Electoral Studies (SELECTS) Italian National Australian Election Study Election Study (AES) (ITANES) New Zealand Election Study (NZES)
    3. 3. The International Setting• Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP) www.cnep.ics.ul.pt• Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) www.cses.org/• European Election Studies (EES) www.europeanelectionstudies.net/• Providing an Infrastructure for Research on Electoral Democracy in the European Union (PIREDEU) http://www.piredeu.eu/• European Voter Project http://www.gesis.org/wahlen/internationale-wahlstudien/the-european-voter/• COST Action "The True European Voter" http://true-european-voter.eu/• CERES “Consortium for European Research with Election Studies”
    4. 4. Explaining election results“Dewey Defeats Truman” by scriptingnews underCC BY-SA 2.0http://www.flickr.com/photos/scriptingnews/2544447858/; “Lisas Substitute” The Simpsons: The Complete Second Season . Writ. Jon Vitti.Dir. Rich Moore. 20th Century Fox, 1991
    5. 5. A sprint, not a marathon. . Intense data generating events. Elections compressed into burst of activitySprit image by Arcimboldo under CC BY 2.0http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Osaka07_D6A_M200M_nearfinish.jpg; marathon image in public domain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:London_1990.jpg.
    6. 6. Instability of electionsFaoila , Anthony. “Greece fails to form new government, calls new elections.” Washington Post 15 May 2012: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/greece-fails-to-form-new-government-calls-new-elections/2012/05/15/gIQAB9vsRU_story.html
    7. 7. “The Johnny Cash problem” “Well, the one on the right was on the left And the one in the middle was on the right And the one on the left was in the middle”Right = 1 Left = 2 Centre = 3Left = 1 Right = 2 Centre = 3Right = 1 Centre = 2Left = 3Left = 1 Centre = 2 Right = 3Centre = 1Left = 2 Right = 3Centre = 1Right = 2 Left = 3 Clement, J.H. (1966). The One on the Right is on the Left [J. Cash] CBS Records 1966.
    8. 8. Data ownershipLSE Archive blog, “On the campaign trail” Out of the Box http://lib-1.lse.ac.uk/archivesblog/?p=2012; Montage of the General Election Day newspapershttp://conservativehome.blogs.com/electiongallery/2010/05/montage-of-the-general-election-day-newspapers.html; Lizzy Davis, “François Hollande v Nicolas Sarkozy: tweets from election day” TheGuardian, 6 May 2012http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/french-election-blog-2012/2012/may/06/french-elections-2012-twitter; campaign broadcast
    9. 9. PrivacyPhotographs: Klaus Ernst by derLinkspartei under public domainhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ernst,_Klaus_(1954),_Variante_a.jpg; CemÖzdemir by Cosimamz under CC BY-SA 2.5http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CemOezdemir2010.JPG; Claudia Roth by Bündnis 90/Die Grünen Nordrhein-Westfalen under CC BY-SA-2.0http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Claudia_Roth_2010.jpg; GesineLötzsch by Ginniwunni under CC BY 3.0http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gesine_L%C3%B6tzsch_5Mai2011_a.jpg; Philipp Röslerby Fdpnds under CC BY 3.0http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Roesler-klein.jpg; Sigmar Gabriel by AgênciaBrasil under CC BY 3.0http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sigmar_Gabriel_2008.jpg; HorstSeehofer by J. Patrick Fischer under CC BY-SA 3.0http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Seehofer.JPG; Angela Merkel by Armin Linnartz under CC BY-SA3.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AM_Juli_2010_-_3zu4.jpg
    10. 10. Integrating legal requirements• For comparative election data: Problem of different legal environments.• For new types of data collections: What are the rules on that? blog.drivinglessons.com http://blog.drivinglessons.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/800px-Drive-on-the-left-kent-1b.jpg
    11. 11. “The LynyrdSkynyrd problem” • PI’s and research teams change over time.LynyrdSkynyrd picture by Watt_Dabney licensed under CC BY 2.0http://www.flickr.com/photos/watt_dabney/4411751415/; LynyrdSkynyrd band membershttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Lynyrd_Skynyrd_band_members
    12. 12. Funding: the „Oliver‟ problem • More?! – Instability regarding funding. – Having to repeatedly ask for more leads to uncertainty Lean, David, dir. Oliver Twist.Cineguild, 1948 Film.
    13. 13. Solutions• What do we want? – Usable data comparative across space and time.• When do we want it? – The day after the election, please. Protest image by laurencehorton under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurencehorton/5160320371/in/set-72157625346145680
    14. 14. Planning ahead•Buildthe PI groupearly on•Secure Money flow•Do research•Pre-harmonization•Plan studyComponents•BuildCooperations
    15. 15. Institutionalization of election Study groups
    16. 16. Harmonization• The cost of post- harmonizationEg. TEV• Trade-off: Over time or across countries?
    17. 17. Common Problems?Common Solutions!
    18. 18. Work withyour local archive!
    19. 19. German Longitudinal Election Study• Funded from 2009-2018 – Covering state and three federal elections: 2009, 2013, 2017 German Longitudinal Election Study, “Overview over the GLES Design at the Bundestag Election 2009” http://www.gles.eu/design.en.htm
    20. 20. Thank youArchive Training CenterGESIS Leibniz Institute for Social SciencesUnterSachsenhausen 6-850667 CologneGERMANYEmail: archive.training@gesis.orgTwitter: @GesisIDIWebsite:http://www.gesis.org/archive-and-data-management- training-and-information-centre