Critical Analysis of Policy Research

90-822

Units: 6

Description: This course prepares students to understand, interpret, and critique existing policy research. The course focuses on the development of three essential skills for policy analysts: 1) Read and interpret empirical results in published research. 2) Understand the assumptions needed to infer causal relationships and assess their plausibility. 3) Recognize common problems in policy research, including reverse causality, omitted variables, measurement error, etc., and use graphical methods to determine the direction of the resulting statistical bias. Using these three skills, students will practice understanding and critiquing policy research. Moreover, by identifying and understanding potential problems, students can make valid conclusions even from seriously flawed research. At the end of the class, students demonstrate these skills by independently evaluating an existing piece of research of their choice, presenting their findings in a written report and in-class presentation.

Learning Outcomes: 1) Read and interpret empirical results in published research. 2) Understand the assumptions needed to infer causal relationships and assess their plausibility. 3) Recognize common problems in policy research, including reverse causality, omitted variables, measurement error, etc., and use graphical methods to determine the direction of the resulting statistical bias.

Prerequisites: 90-707, 90-711, or 95-796

Syllabus: 90-822_Critical_Analysis_of_Policy_Research_Syllabus_F18.pdf