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Emerging Directions in Policy Analysis: Theory, Methods, and Data

December 3, 2013 09:46 AM

By Senovia Guevara, University of Michigan

Thomas D. Cook and moderator Maureen Pirog both spoke during the roundtable held on Thursday at the APPAM conference. Cook’s presented Possible future for methodological research in the policy sciences: Building an externally warranted practice of the satisficing. He discussed whether the current tools we use in policy analysis could be better and if they could be improved, what would that include. He compared what types of tools and formulas are used in other social sciences compared to policy analysis  When it came to practical implications, he stated that we tend to examine the effects of causes more than the causes of a given effect. In his conclusion, Cook proposed a question to the audience of what a scientific theory of satisficing extrapolation would look like.

Pirog focused on policy research and information. In her presentation, she spoke about what will be the biggest difference in policy research in the next decade. She continued by noting that the nature of data people have access to is changing rapidly. Access to large, administrative data that is linked across agencies is also growing, which will change the type of questions people will be able to ask. Pirog stated that technology is changing the types of data we can access and that there will be a huge influx of research in big data. She emphasized that although people are already talking about big data, this big influx of research hasn't occurred yet. Pirog concluded by stating that big data will provide a different way of thinking about research and we are right at the beginning of it.

As a student, I found both presentations very informative. Pirog’s comments about the type of data that we will eventually have access to and the impact to policy research were very thought-provoking.


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