Institute for Quantitative Social Science
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The Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) is a university-wide institute located physically within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. It is an unusual hybrid organization, both a research center and also an integral part of the Harvard administration. IQSS directs large, interdisciplinary research projects; builds infrastructure that facilitates the research of students, faculty and others; houses research groups and technology centers; and administers professional staff and IT tools that increase the productivity of many others around the university. It also combines the roles, most obviously when it takes routine activities of the administration, turns them into research projects, automates their tasks, and greatly extends the reach, efficiency, creativity, and productivity of the effort. IQSS specializes in infrastructure that scales.
History of IQSS
IQSS began operations in the late fall of 2004. Originally started as the Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences (CBRSS) in 1998, the new institute was an integrated collection of centers and academic units that shared a goal to advance quantitative methods for social sciences research. Included were the Harvard-MIT Data Center (HMDC), the Henry A. Murray Archive, the Initiative on Geospatial Analysis (now known as the Center for Geographic Analysis, or CGA), the Robert Wood Johnson Scholars in Health Policy Program, and the Ph.D. Program in Political Economy and Government.
The scientific mission of IQSS is: (1) to create, and make widely accessible, statistical and analytical tools for the social and health sciences; and (2) to use these tools for understanding and solving major problems that affect society and the well-being of human populations.
The organizational mission is: (1) to foster interdisciplinary, often large-scale, and highly collaborative projects that cannot be accomplished readily within the traditional setting of individual departments; and (2) to build a scientific culture where faculty, students, and staff work side by side, not only to solve problems within their own discipline, but also to seek out problems in unrelated or applied areas amenable to the same approach.
Director of IQSS
Gary King is the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor at Harvard University—one of 22 with the title of University Professor, Harvard's most distinguished faculty position. He presently is based in the Department of Government (in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences) and serves as Director of the IQSS. King develops and applies empirical methods in social science research, focusing on innovations that span the range from statistical theory to practical application.
King was elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association (2009), Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2004), Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1998), Fellow of the Society for Political Methodology (2008), and Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2004). He was President of the Society for Political Methodology (1997–1999) and Vice President of the American Political Science Association (2003–2004). King has won numerous awards, including the Warren Miller Prize (2008), the McGraw-Hill Award (2006), the Durr Award (2005), the Pi Sigma Alpha Award (2005, 1998, and 1993), and the APSA Research Software Award (2005, 1997, 1994, and 1992). His more than 120 journal articles, 15 open source software packages, and 8 books span most aspects of political methodology, many fields of political science, and several other scholarly disciplines.
What does Social Science mean at IQSS?
The IQSS uses the term social science to refer to areas of scholarship dedicated to understanding, or improving the well-being of, human populations. Social scientists typically conduct quantitative analysis using data observed at the level of the person or groups of persons, such as countries or areas. The term most commonly is applied to empirical and quantitative areas within academic disciplines in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Harvard University, such as Sociology, Political Science (called Government at Harvard), Economics, Psychology, and Anthropology. The term also is used for quantitative analyses of public policy at the Kennedy School and educational research within the Graduate School of Education. What IQSS calls social science is called other things in other areas, but the category is much wider than the term. It includes what the law school faculty calls empirical research, and many aspects of research at the Medical and Business schools. What IQSS calls social science includes a large fraction of faculty from the School of Public Health, although they have different names for these activities, such as epidemiology, demography, and outcomes research. IQSS also has increasingly rich connections with the Initiative for Innovative Computing, the Harvard Initiative for Global Health, and the Broad Institute (along with many more substantively oriented centers), including joint grant proposals and collaborative research.
Programs at IQSS
IQSS is home to a number of faculty-led research programs. Connecting investigators from across Harvard and beyond, these programs build collaborative research teams working toward the advancement of knowledge and the solution of human problems. IQSS is proud to offer administrative support, technical tools, and general infrastructure to help make these endeavors possible.
- Program on Quantitative Methods - This program encompasses a wide variety of projects that actively develop innovative methods and software as a way of building and unifying the methodological subfields now existing separately within most social science disciplines.
- Program on Positive Political Economy - This program currently supports research exploring politics and demography; consumption and spending; behavioral economics; international political economy; game theory in negotiations; auctions and herding behavior; and college admissions mechanisms.
- Program on Survey Research - PSR serves as a resource for those interested in scientific survey methods and offers a university-wide clearing house for information and expertise in survey design, administration, and analysis.
- Bibliographic Knowledge Network - The Bibliographic Knowledge Network aims to address three fundamental problems of knowledge management: compartmentalization, navigation, and maintenance.
- Robert Wood Johnson Scholars in Health Policy Research - The RWJ Scholars in Health Policy Research Program is a two-year, post-doctoral fellowship program for eight recent Ph.D.s in political science, sociology, and economics.
- Undergraduate Research Scholars - Working side-by-side with faculty, students contribute to the discovery and development of new tools, methods and knowledge.
- ideas42 - Recent research in psychology and economics has uncovered important, and sometimes surprising, drivers of human behavior. ideas42 attempts to apply these insights to an understanding of the economic lives of people.
- Education Innovation Laboratory (EdLabs) - This innovative program led by Professor Roland Fryer applies an R&D model to education as a way to unearth root causes of performance gaps, effectively vet reform options, and replicate solutions that will improve public schools.
- Patent Collaboration Network - The Patent Collaboration Network database is a dataset generated by pulling together data on all patents granted by US Patent and Trademark Office since 1975 in order to represent and analyze social networks among inventors.
- Program on Text Research - This program works to foster interdisciplinary research and teaching as it relates to the utilization of textual data within social science research.
- A New Architecture for the U.S. National Accounts - Professor Dale Jorgenson’s research project implements a new conceptual framework for the U.S. national accounts by integrating the national income and product accounts, productivity statistics, and financial accounts.
- Boston Data Portal - The Center for Geographic Analysis with the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston and the IQSS, is building a proof-of-concept system called the Boston Data Portal aimed at providing both government and academic datasets.
- Program on Qualitative Methods - A new initiative at IQSS, this program focuses on teaching resources in qualitative methods at Harvard. It will catalog relevant faculty and courses available at Harvard and at neighboring universities, host software tools for content analysis, and provide contact information for transcribers. Topics addressed will include content analysis, discourse analysis, the use of transcription software, in-depth interviewing, and more.
Centers at IQSS
IQSS serves as the administrative department for several FAS/University-wide centers. These centers are designated by the University as specific resources that provide technology support and data services to faculty, students, and staff. Each center at IQSS stands as an independent intellectual community, composed of faculty members, researchers, field specialists, and a unique steering committee to provide strategic guidance and help set overall direction.
- Harvard-MIT Data Center - HMDC manages technology platforms for IQSS on informatics and data sharing, statistical computing, and information technology.
- Center for Geographic Analysis - As a designated university-wide technology platform, CGA catalogues and distributes geospatial data and provides training and consultation for researchers utilizing spatial analysis.
- Henry A. Murray Research Archive - The Henry A. Murray Research Archive is the permanent repository for quantitative and qualitative research data at IQSS, and provides physical storage for the IQSS Dataverse Network repository.