Report: Quality of Official Development Assistance

New report from the Center for Global Development and the Brookings Institution

Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA)

Nancy Birdsall and Homi Kharas

http://www.cgdev.org/section/topics/aid_effectiveness/quoda

Abstract:

QuODA is an assessment of the Quality of Official Development Assistance (ODA) provided by 23 donor countries and more than 150 aid agencies. Aid quality is assessed using 30 indicators grouped in four dimensions that reflect the international consensus of what constitutes high-quality aid:

  • Maximizing Efficiency
  • Fostering Institutions
  • Reducing Burden
  • Transparency and Learning

Rankings can be viewed in separate indices and in the Quality of Aid Diamond, which makes it possible to quickly compare countries and agencies across all four dimensions. The authors hope that QuODA will be a catalyst for lively debates and, more importantly, for substantial improvements in how aid is provided.

The Cost of Judicial Citation: An Empirical Investigation of Citation Practices in the Federal Appellate Courts

From the just-received Volume 2010, Issue 1, Spring University of Illinois Journal of Law, Technology & Policy, at page 51:

The Cost of Judicial Citation: An Empirical Investigation of Citation Practices in the Federal Appellate Courts

by Casey R. Fronk

Abstract:

Since the early 1960s, computerized legal research technology has enabled judges and their law clerks to access legal information quickly and comprehensively. Particularly for appellate judges, who rely on wide-ranging legal research when writing opinions, this technological change has had special resonance. This Article attempts to quantify the effects of computer- assisted legal research on the federal judiciary by empirically analyzing citation patterns over the past fifty years. The results of this analysis suggest that the digitization of legal research has had statistically significant effects on the amount and style of citation in judicial opinions. Although the average number of cases cited in opinions has doubled between 1957 and 2007, the number of cases cited only in string citations has decreased by nearly the same percentage. This Article argues that such results can be explained by a basic economic theory of judicial citation in which judges respond to the decreasing cost of opinion production by discarding string citation for more effective communicative techniques.

Conclusion:

This Article proposes that a simple microeconomic approach can describe judicial citation practices over the last fifty years.  It provides empirical evidence that judges use citations in part as a communication device, and that the cost of legal research is intimately connected with the effectiveness of this communication (and therefore with judicial citation patterns).  The empirical results in this Article not only demonstrate the effectiveness of the microeconomic approach in describing  judicial opinion style, but also provide a foundation for future research into the effects of judicial ideology on citation practices.

Properties of the United States Code Citation Network

“Properties of the United States Code Citation Network”

MICHAEL JAMES BOMMARITO, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor – Department of Political Science, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor – Department of Mathematics, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor – Center for Study of Complex Systems

DANIEL MARTIN KATZ, University of Michigan Law School , University of Michigan at Ann Arbor – Center for Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan – Department of Political Science

The United States Code is a body of documents that collectively comprises the statutory law of the United States. In this short paper, we investigate the properties of the network of citations contained within the Code – most notably its degree distribution. Acknowledging the text contained within each of the Code’s section nodes, we adjust our interpretation of the nodes to control for section length. Though we find a number of interesting properties in these degree distributions, we demonstrate that a power law distribution is not an appropriate model for this system.

 

Source:  LSN Experimental & Empirical Studies Vol. 10 No. 103,  12/02/2009

The (Nearly) Forgotten Early Empirical Legal Research

“The (Nearly) Forgotten Early Empirical Legal Research”

Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-26

HERBERT M. KRITZER, University of Minnesota Law School

The modern empirical legal studies movement has well-known antecedents in the law and society and law and economics traditions of the latter half of the 20th century. Less well known is the body of empirical research on legal phenomena from the period prior to World War II. This paper considers that earlier work with discussions of what accounts for the burst of such research in the 1920s and 30s, methodological and funding issues confronting that research, why the research seemed to come to an end in the latter part of the 1930s (to begin to reappear in the 1950s), and some of the continuities in findings between that research and more recent empirical research on law.

 

Source:  LSN Litigation & Procedure Vol. 10 No. 53,  07/30/2009

Going Behind the Scenes of Empirical Legal Research

A new book crossed my desk today, Conducting Law and Society Research: Reflections on Methods and Practices, and here’s its description from the publisher’s website (Cambridge University Press):

Conducting Law and Society Research: Reflections on Methods and Practices

Series: Cambridge Studies in Law and Society

Simon Halliday
University of Strathclyde

Patrick Schmidt
MacAlester College, Minnesota

Through interviews with many of the most noteworthy authors in law and society, Conducting Law and Society Research takes students and scholars behind the scenes of empirical scholarship, showing the messy reality of research methods. The challenges and the uncertainties, so often missing from research methods textbooks, are revealed in candid detail. These accessible and revealing conversations about the lived reality of classic projects will be a source of encouragement and inspiration to those embarking on empirical research, ranging across the full array of disciplines that contribute to law and society. For all of the ambiguities and challenges to the social “scientific” study of law, the reflections found in this book — collectively capturing a portrait of the field through the window of the research efforts — individually remind readers that “good research” displays not an absence of problems, but the care taken in negotiating them.

A very candid look at research methods from the leading scholars in the field – Approachable conversations appropriate for all levels, from students to scholars – Topics range very broadly across the leading approaches and speciality subjects in law and society

Contents
1. Beyond methods: law & society in action; 2. Stewart Macaulay and Non-Contractual Relations and Business (1963); 3. Robert Kagan and Regulatory Justice (1978); 4. Malcolm Feeley and The Process Is the Punishment (1979); 5. Lawrence Friedman and The Roots of Justice (1981); 6. John Heinz and Edward Laumann and Chicago Lawyers (1982); 7. Alan Paterson and The Law Lords (1982); 8. David Engel and The Oven Bird’s Song (1984); 9. Keith Hawkins and Environment and Enforcement (1984); 10. Carol Greenhouse and Praying for Justice (1986); 11. John Conley and William O’Barr and Rules versus Relationships (1990); 12. Sally Engle Merry and Getting Justice and Getting Even (1990); 13. Tom Tyler and Why People Obey the Law (1990); 14. Doreen McBarnet and Whiter than White Collar Crime (1991); 15. Gerald Rosenberg and The Hollow Hope (1991); 16. Michael McCann and Rights at Work (1994); 17. Austin Sarat & William Felstiner and Divorce Lawyers and Their Clients (1995); 18. Yves Dezalay and Bryant Garth and Dealing in Virtue (1996); 19. Patricia Ewick and Susan Silbey and The Common Place of Law (1998); 20. Hazel Genn and Paths to Justice (1999); 21. John Braithwaite and Peter Drahos and Global Business Regulation (2000); 22. John Hagan and Justice in the Balkans (2003); 23. Conclusion: “Research is a Messy Business” — An Archeology of the Craft of Socio-Legal Research – Herbert Kritzer.

 

And the book makes a good case for why PACER data should be free or at least less expensive for law schools:

From chapter 23, Conclusion: “Research is a Messy Business” — An Archeology of the Craft of Socio-Legal Research:

THE MESSIEST MESS IS THE RESEARCH PROCESS: COLLECTING ORIGINAL DATA

. . . Imagine that you want to study something about trials in federal court.  You could turn to the statistical reports published by the Administrative Office (AO) of the U.S. Courts and extract information from the Reports’ well-digested tables.  Or, you could obtain from the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) the case-level data reported to the AO and deposited with the ICPSR (these data form the basis for the published tables); you could then process these data to create whatever summaries you need.  Or, if you have adequate resources, you could access raw case files through the federal court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system; you would then extract and code the information you want from raw case file data. . . .

Administrative Procedures and Bureaucratic Performance: Is Federal Rulemaking ‘Ossified’?

“Administrative Procedures and Bureaucratic Performance: Is Federal Rulemaking ‘Ossified’?”

Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1079

JASON W. YACKEE, University of Wisconsin Law School
SUSAN WEBB YACKEE, affiliation not provided to SSRN

We provide the first empirical assessment of the ossification thesis, the widely accepted notion that procedural constraints on federal agencies have greatly hindered the ability of those agencies to formulate policy through notice and comment rulemaking. Using data that covers all active federal rule-writing agencies from 1983 to 2006, our results largely disconfirm the ossification thesis. Agencies appear readily able to issue a sizeable number of rules, and to do so relatively quickly. Indeed, our empirical results suggest that procedural constraints may actually speed up the promulgation of rules, though our model suggests that this positive effect may decline, or even reverse, as proposed rules age. We conclude that procedural constraints do not appear to unduly interfere with the ability of federal agencies to act, or in most cases, to act in a timely manner.

 

Source: LSN Experimental & Empirical Studies Vol. 10 No. 28,  04/24/2009

Computer Programming and the Law: A New Research Agenda

“Computer Programming and the Law: A New Research Agenda”

Villanova Law Review, Forthcoming
U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-08

PAUL OHM, University of Colorado Law School

This essay proposes a new interdisciplinary research agenda called Computer Programming and the Law. By harnessing the power of computer programming, legal scholars can develop better tools, data, and insights for advancing their research interests. This essay presents the case for this new research agenda, highlights some examples of those who have begun to blaze the trail, and includes code samples to demonstrate the power and potential of developing software for legal scholarship. The code samples in this essay can be run like a piece of software – thanks to a technique known as literate programming – making this the world’s first law review article that is also a working computer program.

Source: LSN Information Privacy Law Vol. 2 No. 14,  04/14/2009

An Analysis of Ideological Effects in Published Versus Unpublished Judicial Opinions

From Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2009, pp. 213-39

An Analysis of Ideological Effects in Published Versus Unpublished Judicial Opinions

Denise M. Keele, Robert W. Malmsheimer, Donald W. Floyd, Lianjun Zhang


Almost without exception, scholars have tested theories of judicial behavior by relying on published case decisions. Though understandable given the inaccessibility of unpublished cases, this focus means that scholars may be drawing conclusions regarding judicial behavior that do not accurately describe the motivational forces behind all judicial decisions. This study employed the attitudinal model of judicial behavior to empirically test whether published judicial opinions are representative of all opinions in litigation challenging the U.S. Forest Service. Results indicate that the effects of ideological preferences are different in published and unpublished opinions issued by appellate judges: judges’ decisions followed their ideological preferences in published opinions, but they did not in unpublished opinions. At the district court level, judges did not follow their ideological preferences in either published or unpublished opinions and there was no difference between judges’ decisions in published and unpublished opinions. This research supports the contention that the process of judicial decision making in the courts of appeals differs between published and unpublished opinions and that scholars should use caution in drawing conclusions from examinations of published opinions alone.

Empirical Tests for Midnight Regulations and Their Effect on OIRA Review Time

 

“Empirical Tests for Midnight Regulations and Their Effect on OIRA Review Time”

PATRICK A. MCLAUGHLIN, Mercatus Center at George Mason University

The midnight regulations phenomenon – an increase in the rate of regulation promulgation during the final months of an outgoing president’s term – is empirically tested using data on the number of economically significant regulations reviewed each month. Submissions of economically significant regulations to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) are found to increase by seven percent during midnight periods. Spikes in regulatory activity, such as those of midnight periods, are shown to decrease the amount of time regulations are reviewed at OIRA, perhaps because of budget and staff limitations. Evaluated at the mean, one additional economically significant regulation submitted to OIRA decreases the mean review time for all regulations by about half a day. If OIRA review improves the quality of regulations, then any phenomenon such as midnight regulations that leads to spikes in regulatory activity and decreases review time could result in the proliferation of low quality regulations.

Source: LSN Experimental & Empirical Studies Vol. 10 No. 19,  03/26/2009

Complexity, Information Overload and Online Deliberation

“Complexity, Information Overload and Online Deliberation”

A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, 2009

OREN PEREZ, Bar-Ilan University – Faculty of Law

This article explores the influence of information overload on online democratic processes. The study of this problematic is motivated by the increasing importance of the doctrine of transparency, by the central role of the paradigm of informed citizenship in contemporary political thought, and by the empirical observation that the modern citizen is exposed to increasing amounts of political data. To explore this question, the article develops a rigorous understanding of the concept of information overload in the democratic context. The article argues, drawing on empirical studies which highlight the adverse psychological impacts of cognitive overload, that this problematic can undermine the capacity of the Internet to reinvigorate democratic praxis. It considers two different responses to this threat. The first questions the seriousness of this threat by re-conceptualizing democracy as a ‘low-information’ practice. This ‘shallow’ understanding of democracy emphasizes the role of heuristics and political intermediaries in modern democratic life. While acknowledging the important role of heuristics and political intermediaries, the article questions the capacity of this narrative to provide a coherent account of legitimate democratic governance. The article proceeds to consider an alternative, technological-oriented response to the problem of information overload. This approach highlights the capacity of new technological innovations to resolve the information overload problematic by reducing the cognitive burden associated with web-based political action. The article uses a concrete case study – the advanced online participatory framework offered by TransLink, the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority – to highlight how the information overload problem is manifested in an actual political context. The article concludes by exploring the blind-spots of these different technological innovations. It considers in this context the role of a new class of political players-techno-political intermediaries – and discusses their potential influence on the democratic process. This discussion points to certain deficiencies in the current doctrine of transparency (and the paradigm of the ‘informed citizen’ underlying it), which is insensitive both to the cognitive limitations of the average citizen and to the increasingly important (but hidden) role of techno-political intermediaries in the political process as it draws increasingly on online tools.

Source:  LSN Law & Positive Political Theory Vol. 4 No. 27,  12/11/2008