Saturday, 29 March 2014

Those who can, do research; those who can’t, review (?)

This has been a busy week: I examined one PhD, collected the thesis for another PhD examination, had a meeting with one of my PhD students, reviewed one application for a research council and another one for our internal university proceedings, and responded to a review request from a journal. All of this reflects a gradual change I have seen in my career: while previously I spent most of my non-teaching time on research, now it’s often reviewing the work of others.
Is this a problem? On the one hand, one may argue that such reviews can also shift research in a particular direction - and, as it concerns the work of more than one person, it may actually have a wider impact than 'just' doing one's own research. On the other hand, it has been found that Big Breakthroughs Come in Your Late 30s. That’s still my age range: thus, as long as I still can, let's go back to my own research now!

Friday, 21 March 2014

The PhD in Law: conference and comparison

In the last ten days I have been travelling again: first, a workshop at the EUI in Florence on legal research methods and then a conference in Hamburg on the PhD in law. The latter event also had a comparative dimension: most speakers talked about the German situation, but there were also presentation from speakers from the UK (well, me!), Denmark, Belgium and SwitzerlandThinking about some of the themes discussed, I came up with the following table with three of the countries plus the EUI. It is supposed to show the most typical PhD in law in the unit in question (thus, the caveat that it simplifies a bit).


numbers
support
finance
Germany
very high
low­
none or salary
UK
medium­
medium­
fees­
Denmark
low
medium
salary
EUI
low
medium
studentship

This shows quite different models of the PhD. In Germany, the PhD ("Dr jur.") is a common element of the legal education (perhaps up to 20% of law graduates do it), but then students get little support (essentially it’s up to you to write it; though this gradually changes a bit), but also need to pay no fees and get no salary (unless they’re also employed as research assistants). The UK has a smaller but growing number of law PhD students who enjoy more support than previously – with the increasing fees being one of the driving forces for both trends. Denmark and the EUI are similar in terms of paying PhD students to do the PhD (and in Denmark to do some teaching) and, therefore, accept fewer students who get good support (though given the low numbers there may not be the critical mass to run the most extensive programmes).
    Is one of those models preferable? There is no unambiguous answer to this question. Applicants with little financial resources may prefer the German model, current PhD students with good financial resources the UK model, but others the Danish and EUI one (assuming they are good enough to get into it). From a financial perspective, universities may prefer the UK model, but professors may also like the selectiveness of the Danish and EUI one, while the German model may have the advantage that many PhD students may give the professor a good bargaining position within the university. I’m also not sure which of these models may be preferable in terms of general social welfare effects.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Applying Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) to decisions of the highest UK, US and RSA courts

A while ago I came across the interesting website www.liwc.net which describes itself as a 
'text analysis software program [that] calculates the degree to which people use different categories of words across a wide array of texts, including emails, speeches, poems, or transcribed daily speech. With a click of a button, you can determine the degree any text uses positive or negative emotions, self-references, causal words, and 70 other language dimensions.'
Now, it’s too tempting not to try online version for an analysis of court decisions. For the following table, I took three recent random decisions each of the highest UK, US, and RSA courts (namely the same ones of my previous blog post). Here are the results:

LIWC
dimension
UK
US
RSA
Personal
texts
Formal
texts
Self-references (I, me, my)
0.56
0.85
0.58
11.4
4.2
Social words
4.43
3.75
2.78
9.5
8.0
Positive
emotions
1.69
1.08
1.34
2.7
2.6
Negative
emotions
0.55
1.51
0.41
2.6
1.6
Overall cognitive words
4.45
4.69
4.54
7.8
5.4
Articles
(a, an, the)
10.71
9.16
10.41
5.0
7.2
Big words
(> 6 letters)
23.63
28.06
23.48
13.1
19.6

I have highlighted the highest values: so, the US SC tends to use more references to ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’, more ‘negative emotions’, and more ‘big words’, whereas the UK SC tends to use more ‘social words’ and ‘positive emotions’. Presumably (?), this makes sense.

The table also includes the data that LWIC provides on typical personal and formal text. The court decisions are closer to formal texts. In addition, there are a number of further interesting features: eg, all three courts use fewer ‘social words’, positive or negative emotions and cognitive words than the average formal text; yet, all three courts use more ‘big words’. Again, this presumably makes sense.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Leximetrics of Shareholder Protection (slides)

I just return from the excellent NUS conference on Shareholder Power. So, being fairly jet-lagged, today's post is only a link to the slides of my presentation, dealing with 'The Leximetric Research on Shareholder Protection'. The book related to the conference theme will be published in a year or so (see also the conference website, linked above).

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Shareholder Power and South-East Asia

Ok, this post is not actually about shareholder power in South-East Asia, but my current travel – to be precise to Singapore and Bangkok.
  • Singapore, in a few days time, will be a conference at NUS on shareholder power. See the conference website here. This is related to a forthcoming Elgar handbook book on the same topic (edited by Jennifer Hill and Randall Thomas).
  • I’m in Bangkok at the moment. The picture above is from the window of my very nice hotel room. Actually, I booked a cheaper one but they upgraded me - presumably due to some cancellations given the current political crisis. Today I also walked to the borders of the (former) protest sides, but taking a selfie with the protesters (or burned-out busses etc) may not really be appropriate….
  • Finally, to say something about South-East Asia more general: I’m currently reading Ricklefs et al, A New History of Southeast Asia. It’s not my area of expertise but it seems to me a very good in identifying common trends but also national and other differences (ie it is a good example of how to do a historical comparative analysis).