CSED Research Lab Information
Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy (CSED) faculty operate a research lab to help a select group of our best students experience the research process including discussing key literature and theory, data collection, data analysis, and presentation of results. The CSED lab is the work of Kelly Patterson (CSED Director), Adam Brown, Jay Goodliffe, Kirk Hawkins, Chris Karpowitz, David Magleby, Quin Monson, and Jeremy Pope.
The CSED Research Lab provides a high quality research experience for participating students and is excellent preparation for graduate programs in political science, public policy or law. Student research fellows have excellent access to the participating faculty, and work closely with them to produce high-quality research that culminates in national conference presentations and even publication. This experience has led to admission to excellent graduate schools for the students that choose to continue studying political science (Princeton, UCSD, Ohio State, Northwestern and Wisconsin, among others at that level). Other students have successfully pursued employment in survey research, political consulting, and government.
Undergraduate research fellows are chosen from among the best undergraduate students interested in campaigns, elections, public opinion, political behavior, and (more generally) representative democracy. Most, but not all, focus on American politics. Because the lab requires strong research design and data analysis skills, all fellows must successfully complete Political Science 200 and Political Science 328, or comparable courses in research methods and statistics. Successful applicants have also usually shown promise in courses taught by faculty members associated with the lab, such as Campaigns and Elections, Political Psychology, Public Opinion and Voting Behavior, Theories of American Politics, and Advanced Quantitative Methods.
Student fellows must commit to stay with the lab for at least one year. Normally, fellows work for an entire calendar year beginning in the spring. Because students enter the program having previously acquired significant methodological skills, it is expected that everyone already know the basic methods necessary to participate. But this early spring period is crucial for setting expectations and preparing a cohort to fully participate in the lab activities. Students are also expected to initiate their own research project in cooperation with a faculty member, in addition to working on a project primarily driven by the faculty. The application requires a statement of research interests, a writing sample (usually a research paper), and a transcript.
Fellows commit to work for pay on faculty research projects and for academic credit on their own research projects. Each semester students also enroll in a 1-credit course associated with the lab that provides an incentive structure and deadlines for student research projects. Additional work hours for pay can be negotiated with individual lab faculty members as needed and as individual faculty research budgets allow.
An integral aspect of the CSED research lab is regular communication between students and faculty at lab meetings. Lab participants meet frequently (usually every two weeks) to monitor ongoing CSED research projects, plan future work, and discuss student research. Research project discussions are sometimes accompanied by background reading that may include initial paper drafts, results from current lab research projects, or published work from leading political scientists. Lab meetings also include presentations by students and faculty ranging from initial research ideas to research design proposals, to discussion of full paper drafts. Students are expected to participate as full and active interlocutors in seminar-type evaluation and discussion of the research projects on each meeting’s agenda.
The CSED Research Lab represents a unique opportunity for students to generate and implement their research ideas under the tutelage and close mentorship of not just one, but multiple faculty members who are united by a common set of research interests. This collective enterprise makes for a unique and extremely high-quality mentoring environment.