Research Design for Causal Inference in Observational Studies and Experimental Settings,

August 2013 and February 2014

This is a course on research design for causal inference.  The course will cover how to design compelling research, the focus of which is on causal inference.  We will cover the design of true experiments, observational studies (quasi-experiments), and contrast these "intervention" studies to classroom or computer simulations.  We will cover extensively the design of quasi-experiments where the researcher controls neither the assignment of cases into groups nor the administration of the treatment being studied.  Our approach will follow the Neyman-Rubin-Holland counterfactual or potential outcomes framework. This perspective has become increasingly popular in many fields including statistics, medicine, economics, political science, sociology, law, finance, accounting and marketing. The framework assumes that each unit being studied has two potential outcomes, one if the unit is treated and the other if untreated. A caus . al effect is defined as the difference between the two potential outcomes, but only one of the two potential outcomes is observed. Rubin and others developed the model into a general framework for causal inference with implications for observational research.

Mathew D. McCubbins

Professor of Law and Political Science, Duke University

Mathew D. McCubbins, an interdisciplinary scholar whose work explores the intersections of law, business and political economy, joined the Duke Law faculty in 2013 and will be directing the Center for Law and Democracy at Duke.  He holds a joint appointment in Duke University’s Department of Political Science.  He previously was the Provost Professor of Business, Law and Political Economy at the University of Southern California and Director of the USC-Cal Tech Center for the Study of Law and Politics at the Gould School of Law at USC. 

McCubbins will be in residence at Duke after spending 2013-2014 as the W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow and the Robert Eckles Swain National Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

An elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, McCubbins also has taught at the University of Texas, Stanford University, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of San Diego Law School.  He was a Distinguished Professor and the Chancellor’s Associates Chair in the Department of Political Science at the University of California San Diego from 1987 to 2011. He was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in 1994-95. 
McCubbins holds a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology.  McCubbins is the co-author of six books: The Logic of Delegation (University of Chicago Press, 1991), winner of the APSA’s 1992 Gladys M. Kammerer Award; Legislative Leviathan (University of California Press, 1993), winner of the APSA’s Legislative Studies Section’s 1994 Richard F. Fenno Jr. Prize; The Democratic Dilemma: Can Citizens Learn What They Need to Know? (Cambridge University Press, 1998); Stealing the Initiative (Prentice-Hall 2000); Setting the Agenda: Responsible Party Government in the US House of Representatives (Cambridge University Press, 2005), winner of the APSA’s Leon Epstein Award; and Legislative Leviathan, Second Edition (Cambridge University Press, 2006). He is also editor or coeditor of eight additional books and has authored or coauthored more than 100 scientific articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries, in political science, economics, computer science, cognitive science, and biology, with one winning the Congressional Quarterly Prize for best article on legislative politics and another winning the SPPQ Award for best article on state politics. He has authored more than three dozen articles in law reviews or law journals.  He has published under the nom de plume of McNollgast with his coauthors Roger Noll and Barry Weingast. 


Mat served as a co-editor of the Journal of Law, Economics & Organization for eight years (Oxford University Press).  He served on the Board of the Society on Empirical Legal Studies for six years. He is presently a co-editor of the Journal of Legal Analysis (Oxford University Press) is a co-network director for the Political Science Network (PSN) within the Social Science Research Network.  


© 2013. Mathew D McCubbins. All rights reserved.