Application links available to undergraduates subscribed to the Schar listserv
Project Number: 1
Faculty: Dr. Jim Olds
Title: Using Large Language Models to Analyze Open Grant Proposal Databases
Project Description: I am looking for a Python or R savy student to clean up text data for input into a Large Language Model AI
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Support in statistical analysis, writing code, scraping data, etc.
- Knowledge of Python or R NECESSARY.
- Ability to write at a high level DESIRABLE.
Project Number: 2
Faculty: Dr. Ketian Zhang
Title: Economic interdependence and rising power grand strategies
Project Description: Compared to historical rising powers, China does not use force as often as historical rising powers, prefers to utilize coercion instead of force, and tends to resort to nonmilitarized coercive tools. China exhibits a curious pattern of using nonmilitarized means to achieve its grand strategic ends. What explains China’s divergent path compared to historical rising powers such as the early American republic, Germany under Bismarck, and Meiji Japan? Specifically, what is the impact of global economic interdependence on rising powers’ grand strategies? Do current global production and supply chains provide different incentives to contemporary rising powers’ grand strategies? This book intends to apply theories in international political economy to examine rising powers’ grand strategic choices, comparing China’s grand strategy against historical rising powers’ grand strategies. It plans to employ qualitative methods such as process tracing and congruence testing, leveraging rich empirical evidence, including primary Chinese documents and interviews with Chinese and foreign officials, as well as historiographies, economic data, and archival documents on historical rising powers.
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Writing literature summaries, Translation, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation
- Abilities to speak and write in any of these languages: Chinese, Japanese, or German DESIRABLE but not required.
Project Number: 3
Faculty: Dr. Michael Hunzeker
Title: Mapping the Cross-Strait Military Balance
Project Description: I am building a detailed map of the cross-Strait military balance. To pull this off, I need a small team of RAs who can help me scour open source documents in order to build an accurate map of American, Chinese, Japanese, and Taiwanese military bases, ports, airfields, radar sites, silos, urban centers, beaches, navigable waterways, MSRs, etc. This map will help support future policy research on cross-Strait security and stability.
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Support in statistical analysis, writing code, scraping data, etc., Translation
- Potential RAs should be interested in East Asian security and/or military affairs; and they must be responsible, reliable, and able to work independently.
- A military background, familiarity with military terminology, and/or the ability to read simplified and traditional Mandarin characters are all DESIRABLE.
Project Number: 4
Faculty: Dr. Jennifer Victor
Title: Legislator Crosswalk
Project Description: I seek a team of 1 - 3 students to help create an electronic dataset that includes a "crosswalk" of identifiers for Members of Congress. The crosswalk will cover a 30 year time span and involve 3 - 5 different index identifiers for members of Congress, include FED Candidate IDs and ICPSR IDs. Prior familiarity with these things is not a requirement.
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry)
- Self-motivation; some experience with Excel and/or R; availability to participate in weekly research lab meetings all REQUIRED.
- Experience working with datasets or spreadsheets; familiarity with US Congress DESIRABLE.
Project Number: 5
Faculty: Dr. Jennifer Victor
Title: Political Capital Researcher
Project Description: I seek 1 - 2 students to help develop a comprehensive literature review on the topic of political capital, to support a book project on that topic. Training will be provided.
Duties include: Writing literature summaries, Library research
- Ability to identify scholarly research and to read and summarize said research REQUIRED.
- Experience using Zotero and Google Scholar or other databases DESIRABLE.
Project Number: 6
Faculty: Dr. Jennifer Victor
Title: Congressional Caucuses Data Cleaning and Collection
Project Description: I seek 1 - 2 students to support maintenance of a large database of congressional caucuses. The spring 2023 team will work on writing R code to correct errors in existing data, catalog new data, and support a development team for a web-based application. Training will be provided.
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Support in statistical analysis, writing code, scraping data, etc.
- Self-motivation and experience working with data REQUIRED.
- Experience writing code in R, managing databases, and/or familiarity with the US Congress DESIRABLE.
Project Number: 7
Faculty: Dr. Fengxiu Zhang
Title: Evaluating adaptation justice in state climate action plans
Project Description: Climate adaptation refers to the process of making adjustments or changes in response to the current and expected future impacts of climate change. Social groups, such as the poor and the minority, are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts and yet least able to adapt to a worsening climate. This project aims to address the intersectionality of climate change and social justice by examining how governments incorporate social justice considerations into state climate adaptation plans. We will develop a framework and scoring metrics for adaptation justice and apply them to code climate adaptation plans across the 50 US states. The RAs are expected to collect search and compile plan documents on climate adaptation, code them according to standard protocol while making continuous improvement/adjustments to the framework and protocol. Tasks would also potentially include conducting interviews with key stakeholders involved in creating and implementing climate adaptation plans.
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind
- Strong organizational and time management skills to meet project deadlinescoding and categorization skills to systematically analyze complex information from state climate action plans; Attention to detail; Critical thinking skills to assess and interpret adaptation justice concerns within the broader context of climate action plans; Ability to conduct systematic literature review and synthesize research ALL REQUIRED.
- Knowledge and interest in climate change and climate actions; prior experience in research, interviews, document coding; ALL DESIRABLE.
Project Number: 8
Faculty: Dr. Judith Wilde
Title: University Presidents: What happens when they leave?
Project Description: The tenure of university presidents has shortened dramatically in the last 10 years. I have data from the Chronicle of Higher Education on presidents who stepped down 2018-2023. I want to determine why they stepped down and, if they left prior to completing their first contract, did they receive any remuneration. We have seen presidents who have been paid up to $4.25M to "buy out their tenure." How often does this happen, why, and what payments do they receive?
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Support in administering experiments, recruiting subjects, or other promotions to the undergraduate population, Managinge Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests
- Ability to be detail-oriented NECESSARY.
Project Number: 9
Faculty: Dr. Robert McGrath
Title: Collaboration in Crisis: The Opioid Epidemic and State Policy Failure
Project Description: The use and misuse of opiates and synthetic opioids has ravaged much of the United States for the past quarter of a century. This topic has received much attention in the academic and popular presses, with many identifying important determinants of the opioid epidemic (greedy pharmaceutical companies, international drug trafficking, national policy failure, etc.). Often overlooked though is the role of American federalism itself in worsening outcomes from public health emergencies. I am writing a book about the unique challenges that our system of government presents when addressing health crises, including the opioid epidemic. Researching this book will involve 1) collecting data on opioid-related health outcomes at the state-level over an extended period of time, 2) cataloguing (broadly and in-depth for certain key states) state laws and regulations regarding controlled substances over the same period, and 3) examining the extent to which states coordinate their policies with each other (especially when geographically close to each other) and with the national government. I seek hard-working and curious research assistants to assist with data collection and project management aspects of the book project. An interest in healthy policy and/or American state politics is preferable, as is some experience with data collection and management (though, this is not a firm requirement for joining the research team).
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation
- Responsibility and attention to detail NECESSARY.
- Interest in health policy and/or American state politics DESIREABLE.
Project Number: 10
Faculty: Dr. Mirae Kim
Title: Nonprofit Organization Research Panel
Project Description: Nonprofit organizations are important contributors to the US economy and social wellbeing but lack robust, nationally representative data for research and practice. The Nonprofit Organization Research Panel (NORP) intends to fill such data gap and contributes to advancing knowledge and practice in the nonprofit sector. NORP aims to increase access to data-intensive research about nonprofit performance, and lead to more scientifically informed decision-making by nonprofit organizations, policymakers, and funders.
NORP project URA(s) will participate in administering periodic online surveys, and creating survey reports. During the process, URA(s) will learn about how to manage an online research panel, which has increasingly become popular tool for data collection, as well as how to conduct an online survey with nonprofit organizations. Depending on URB(s)' capacity, research assistants can also engage in marketing activities as well as website designs.
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Support in administering experiments, recruiting subjects, or other promotions to the undergraduate population, Support in conducting interviews, arranging appointments for interviews, or logistics related to research of this kind, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation
- Familiarity with Excel spreadsheets: a basic internet search skill, attention to detail, an interest in learning about various nonprofit organizations and online panel research (including survey management) NECESSARY.
- Background or experience in the nonprofit sector, high interest in learning about various nonprofits and survey methods, prior survey research experience, and a keen eye for copy-editing errors are all DESIRABLE for this position. Some website design skills would be also preferred (if available).
Project Number: 11
Faculty: Dr. Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera
Title: COYOTES LLC: The Social Networks Facilitating a Perilous Journey
Project Description: This research project analyzes and maps human smuggling networks that enable US-bound migration. It identifies the main actors facilitating human mobility through illicit forms, as well as their social networks, associates and the systems they form. This work considers over 550 interviews with migrants, shelter workers, human rights advocates, law enforcement agents, experts, other stakeholders, and members of human smuggling networks. Nurtured by eight years of fieldwork, it explains how irregular immigration represent significant economic opportunities for a variety of actors and entities. These players form a complex network linked to an industry that thrives in a context of restrictive immigration policies, armed conflict, as well as political, economic and climate crises. The ultimate aims of this research are: to find adequate policy solutions to dismantle this network of migration brokers; improve human security, human development and homeland security; prevent migrant exploitation, and effectively repair a broken hemispheric (im)migration system.
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research, Support in statistical analysis, writing code, scraping data, etc., Translation, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation
- Proficiency in Spanish; bilingual NECESSARY.
- Expertise in quantitative methods DESIRABLE.
Project Number: 12
Faculty: Dr. Bassam Haddad
Title: Knowledge Production Project
Project Description: The Knowledge Production Project (KPP) is a dynamic, open-access archive, search tool, and data visualization platform. It collects, catalogues, and makes available for analysis knowledge produced on the Middle East since 1979 in the English language in eight databases.
Duties include: Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Library research
- Proficiency in research and database management NECESSARY.
- Expertise in big data analysis DESIRABLE.
Project Number: 13
Faculty: Dr. Janine Wedel
Title: Mapping Shadow Influence
Project Description: This position supports the Mapping Shadow Influence project, which brings together a diverse, multidisciplinary team of scholars (in public policy, anthropology, sociology, politics, computer science and data science) to study how elite influencers wield power and hold sway in a system that has become much more complex and opaque over the past several decades. Using two wholly unique datasets (one of off-shore hedge funds and institutional investors in them; the other of post-retirement careers of U.S. generals and admirals), the project analyzes and visualizes patterns of elite linkage, influence, and governance in the critical arenas of defense and finance. In addition to scholarly interest, the material and potential findings of the project lend themselves to public-interest journalism.
- Student TASKS may include:
- Collecting data, coding (data entry), & managing spreadsheets or databases;
- Organizing files & data;
- Conducting library research and writing literature summaries regarding the subjects of the two data bases;
- Reaching out to Washington-based NGOs that overlap with the project’s interest areas, such as Kleptocracy Watch, FACT Coalition, Global Integrity, and Oxfam America;
- Attending meetings of such organizations, talking with representatives, and reporting back to the project team;
- Helping to draft research and policy papers.
- Other duties and responsibilities may be assigned by the supervisor
- Required Skills:
- Excellent ability to analyze, organize, and code data
- Attention to detail and accuracy
- Excellent ability to conduct library research, Google searches, and to write literature summaries
Start Date: As soon as hired
End Date: End of academic year, with potential to continue.
Hours per week: 10-20 hours per week, negotiable
Days/Times: Flexible, but Friday noon teams meetings (some weeks) are strongly encouraged, for student camaraderie, as well as guidance.
SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS: APPLICANTS MUST PRODUCE A SHORT (3-5) MINUTE VIDEO ABOUT WHY THIS PROJECT IS A GOOD FIT FOR YOU AND WHY YOU WANT TO WORK ON IT. PLEASE INCLUDE A LINK TO THIS VIDEO IN YOUR RESUME.
Project Number: 14
Faculty: Dr. Jessica Terman
Title: Case Studies in Public Administration
Project Description: This study investigates public programs that use indirect policy tools such as vouchers and contracts. Students will study literature and policy documents on various programs, investigating their policy areas and policy backgrounds. Students will work on their writing and research skills for the final preparation of a case study book in public administration.
- Writing literature summaries, Library research, Proofreading, editing, and/or manuscript preparation
- Required skills:
- My URA must have the research and writing skills of an advanced undergraduate student.
Project Number: 15
Faculty: Dr. Justin Gest
Title: The Human Rights of Migrants
Project Description: We seek URAP participants to contribute to a book that consolidates findings from the Migrant Rights Database. (See migrantrights.info for details.) Assignments will include preparing profiles of different countries from the list of 45 worldwide, and also literature reviews and summaries about the state of migrant rights in different regions — particularly Latin America and Africa.
- Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research, Interpreting legal coding and findings to write statistical profiles.
- Required skills:
- Writing, Writing, Writing. Ability to review multiple, diverse sources, synthesize their conclusions, and summarize them in a readable format.
- Desirable skills:
- Comfort with consuming statistical data, but we will not ask RAs to analyze data (unless they want to do so).
Project Number: 16
Faculty: Dr. Eric McGlinchey
Title: US Foreign Policy Toward Central Asia, 1991-2024
Project Description: The objective of this URAP project is to create a Zotero-hosted database of US government foreign policy documents related to the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Using structured searches of US Government online archives as well as Nexis Uni, students will identify, download, tag, and summarize US foreign policy communiqués toward the five Central Asian countries. By the end of the semester, students will:
- Become expert on US foreign policy toward one Central Asian country,
- Develop proficiency in structured searches of online archives,
- Develop proficiency in Zotero database management,
- Submit a report (length will vary in accordance with chosen URAP credit option) that identifies major events in US foreign policy toward each student's selected Central Asia country and summarizes the evolution of US foreign policy toward this country.
- Data collection, Coding (data entry), Managing spreadsheets or databases; organizing data, Writing literature summaries, Library research
- Desirable skills:
- While prior knowledge of Zotero and how to conducted structured searches is not necessary, a willingness to learn and develop proficiency in Zotero database management as well as structured searches is desirable.