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Professor Kenneth Benoit, Professor of Political Science Research Methodology


Kenneth Benoit received his PhD in 1998 from Harvard University, Department of Government. He has previously held positions at Trinity College Dublin, where he held a chair in Quantitative Social Sciences, and at the Central European University (Budapest). He regularly teaches social science methodology at summer schools, including the ECPR Summer School in Methods and Techniques (Ljubljana) and in 2011, the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis.

Research interests

His substantive research interests include comparative party competition, the European Parliament, electoral systems, and transitions to democracy. Much of his recent work involves estimating the electoral effects of campaign spending. He is also a leading specialist on Hungarian elections and the Hungarian electoral system. His methodological interests include statistical methodologies for the social sciences, especially those relating to measurement and quantitative text analysis. Recent data large-scale measurement projects in which he has been involved include estimating policy positions of political parties through expert surveys, manifesto coding, and text analysis.

Recent projects

  • Quantitative Analysis of Textual Data for Social Sciences
  • World Database of Parties, Elections, and Governments
  • Globalisation and Party Competition
  • Domestic Structures of European Integration
  • EUENGAGE - The goal of the EUENGAGE Project is twofold: first, to inquire into the current tensions between supranational EU governance and popular mobilisation at the national level, critically questioning EU-driven policies and EU legitimacy; and second, to propose remedial actions based on sound empirical research on the relationship between public opinion, national and supranational political elites. The medium to long-term evolutionary trend of the EU system of supranational governance has already in the past given rise to a manifestation of problems. It has become clear that the pace of integration proposed from the top, and some side-effects of integration—austerity, transnational redistribution, economic insecurity, immigration—are difficult to accept for large parts of Europe’s citizens. This misalignment is obviously a crucial issue for any system of governance that aims - as the European Union has repeatedly affirmed - to be inspired by democratic principles. The EUENGAGE project takes seriously the present state of affairs and identifies in the conflicting messages emanating from the functioning of political representation; a critical and urgent problem for the future of the EU. The EUENGAGE proposes to set up an interactive, dynamic, multilevel and replicable quasi-experimental research design. Using a variety of instruments and techniques, this design will allow us not only to study the process of representation in vivo, but also to test experimentally how innovative and efficient interactions between citizens and politicians can increase citizens’ awareness of the common problems of the Union, and the ability of the European leadership to respond


  • In progress: "Quantitative Text Analysis Using R" with Paul Nulty. It covers methods for managing, processing, and analysing textual data using the R programming language and focuses on the “quanteda” package written by Ken Benoit and Paul Nulty and developed under the QUANTESS project.
  • 2008. Giannetti, Daniela and Kenneth Benoit, eds. Intra-Party Politics and Coalition Governments. London: Routledge.
  • 2006. Benoit, Kenneth and Michael Laver. Party Policy in Modern Democracies. London: Routledge.

Recent scholarly articles

  • 2011. William Lowe, Kenneth Benoit, Slava Mikhaylov, and Michael Laver. “Scaling Policy Preferences From Coded Political Texts.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 26(1, Feb): 123-155
  • 2010. Gail McElroy and Kenneth Benoit. “Party Policy and Group Affiliation in the European Parliament.” British Journal of Political Science 40(2, April): 377-398.
  • 2010. Kenneth Benoit and Michael Marsh. “Incumbent and Challenger Campaign Spending Effects in Proportional Electoral Systems: The Irish Elections of 2002.” Political Research Quarterly 63(1, March): 159-173.
  • 2009. Kenneth Benoit. “Irish Political Parties and Policy Stances on European Integration.” Irish Political Studies 24(4, December): 447-466.
  • 2009. Nina Wiesehomeier and Kenneth Benoit. “Presidents, Parties And Policy Competition.” Journal of Politics 71(4, October): 1435-1447.
  • 2009. Kenneth Benoit and Michael Marsh. “A Relative Impact Ranking of Political Studies In Ireland.” Economic and Social Review 40(3): 269-298.
  • 2009. Kenneth Benoit, Thomas Bräuninger, and Marc Debus. “Challenges for estimating policy preferences: Announcing an open access archive of political documents.” German Politics 18(3, September): 440-453.
  • 2009. Kenneth Benoit, Slava Mikhaylov, and Michael Laver. “Treating Words as Data with Error: Uncertainty in Text Statements of Policy Positions.” American Journal of Political Science 53(2, April): 495-513.
  • 2008. Kenneth Benoit and Michael Marsh. “The Campaign Value of Incumbency: A New Solution to the Puzzle of Less Effective Incumbent Spending.” American Journal of Political Science 52(4, October): 874-890.
  • 2008. Kenneth Benoit and Michael Laver. “Compared to What? A Comment on ‘A Robust Transformation Procedure for Interpreting Political Text’ by Martin and Vanberg.” Political Analysis 16(1, Winter): 101-111.
Ken Benoit