Methodology Seminar Series

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Leading social scientists consider cutting-edge quantitative and qualitative methodologies, analyse the logic underpinning an array of approaches to empirical enquiry, and discuss the practicalities of carrying out research in a variety of different contexts.

Seminars are on Thursdays from 16:15- 17:45  and most will take place in the PhD Academy LRB 4.02 (4th floor of the Lionel Robbins Building - Please see here for a map of the LSE).

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If you would like further information on the seminars, please email

PhD students and staff across the LSE are welcome to attend.

Summer Term Seminars


An image of Dr Slava Mikhaylov


28 April 2016

Assessing the Effectiveness of Human Rights Rhetoric: An empirical test of Spiral Model

Speaker: Dr Slava Mikhaylov, Department of Political Science, UCL

Venue: PhD Academy, Level 4, Lionel Robbins Library


Estimating state preferences is central to the study of world politics. This paper introduces new data and approaches to measuring state preferences using quantitative text analysis. We argue that the General Debate of the United Nations, in which member states present their perspectives on major issues in annual statements, provides invaluable information on countries’ preferences. Compared to other forms of state behavior (e.g. voting on UN resolutions), states face few external constraints delivering these speeches – making them better placed to distinguish the effects of countries’ preferences from characteristics of the international system. Applying text analytic techniques to speeches between 1970–2014, we illustrate how speeches can be used to derive countries’ positions on policy dimensions, and provide empirical applications of these measures. The new approach will be of interest to scholars of international relations and comparative politics studying the determinants and effects of state preferences on state behavior.


An image of Professor David Kirk


26 May 2016

A Mixed-Methods Natural Experiment on Residential Change and Recidivism: The silver lining of Hurricane Katrina

Speaker: Prof David Kirk, Nuffield College, Oxford

Venue: PhD Academy, Level 4, Lionel Robbins Library


Over 600,000 prisoners are released from U.S. prisons each year, and roughly one-half of these individuals are back in prison within just three years. If the path to desistance from crime largely requires separating from past situations and establishing a new set of structured daily activities, then returning to one’s old neighbourhood environment and routines may drastically limit an ex-prisoner’s already dismal chances of desisting from crime. Yet estimating the causal impact of place of residence on the likelihood of recidivism is complicated by the issue of selection bias—the possibility that some unmeasured characteristic of prisoners influences both where they live and their criminal behavior. This study uses the forced residential migration caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as a natural experiment for estimating the effect of residential change on criminal recidivism. Property damage from the hurricane induced some ex-prisoners to move to new neighbourhoods who otherwise would have moved back to their former neighbourhoods. Findings will be presented from estimation of the effect of residential change on the eight-year recidivism rate, along with qualitative evidence on the mechanisms explaining the relationship between residential change and criminal desistance. 




Please click here to see details of previous seminars.