For students who've taken a course in linear regression (such as Harvard's Gov2000), this course gives you the tools to learn new statistical methods or build them yourself. We focus on methods practically useful in real social science research. We aim to give you two types of skills

First, we show how to develop new approaches to research methods, data analysis, and statistical theory. More advanced statistical theory is not required when data and variables follow standard assumptions. Since this is not usually the case in most of the social sciences, we often cannot use ready-made statistical procedures developed elsewhere and for other purposes. We teach the underlying theory of inference (which, at its most fundamental is merely using facts you know to learn about facts you don't know); once understood, we can easily “reinvent” known statistical solutions to accommodate social science data, learn new techniques as they are developed, or even invent original approaches when required. Students will learn how to read an original scholarly article describing a new statistical technique, implement it in computer code, estimate the model with relevant data, understand and interpret the results, and present and explain the results to someone unfamiliar with statistics.

Second, students will learn how to make novel substantive contributions to the scholarly literature. In the past, some students who completed the course published a revised version of their class paper in a scholarly journal. For most of these students, this was their first professional publication. For papers from previous years, see the Gov 2001 Dataverse.