Professor Sarah Birch
- Professor of Comparative Politics (Politics)
telephone: 0141 330 6196
Sarah Birch specialises in the study of ethics and misconduct. Her current research has two main foci: attitudes toward public ethics (including environmental ethics) and electoral integrity. She has published articles in journals including Comparative Political Studies, the European Journal of Political Research, the European Political Science Review, Political Studies, and Electoral Studies. Her most recent monograph is Electoral Malpractice (Oxford University Press, 2011), and she is soon to publish a monograph on corruption perceptions in the UK with co-author Nicholas Allen (Ethics and Integrity in British Politics: How Citizens Judge Their Politicians’ Conduct and Why It Matters, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). Between 2002 and 2011 she served as Co-Editor of the British Journal of Political Science. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2013.
Explaining and Mitigating Electoral Malpractice, Funding received from the Economic and Social Research Council (£478,794). PI: Sarah Birch; Co-Is: Paul Cockshott, Iadh Ounis and Craig Macdonald (School of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow) and Jeff Fisher (Creative Associates, Washington DC). Project to start 1 April 2015 and run three years. The aim of the project is to develop a theoretical understanding of the factors that cause various types of electoral malpractice, and to evaluate strategies commonly employed to prevent this phenomenon. The project employs conventional cross-national comparative political science approaches, as well as incident-level analysis employing Big Data event detection techniques using social media. Project website.
Attitudes towards Political Ethics and Misconduct in France, British Academy, 2011-2013, £7,500 (Principal Investigator: Nicholas Allen)
Unequal Democracy: The Impact of Political Inequality, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, 2011, £11,500 (Principal Investigator: Guy Lodge).
Perceptions and Conceptions of Political Misconduct: The British Public and Their Attitudes towards Political Ethics. Economic and Social Research Council (£74,116) and the British Academy (£7,500), 2009-2011 (Principal Investigator: Sarah Birch)
Electoral Malpractice in New and Semi-Democracies, British Academy, 2003-2004, £7,256 (Principal Investigator: Sarah Birch)
The Implementation of Electronic Voting, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, the Electoral Commission, the Local Government Association, the Innovation and Development Agency, and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, 2001-2002, £21,000 (Principal Investigator: Lawrence Pratchett)
Political Transformation and the Electoral Process in Post-Communist Europe, Economic and Social Research Council, 1999-2002, £133,449 (Principal Investigator: Frances Millard).
The Quality of Democracy in Ukraine: Representation in and after the March 1998 Ukrainian Elections, Economic and Social Research Council, 1997-1999, £30,000 (Principal Investigator: Andrew Wilson).
Available to supervise students on topics related to electoral institutions and electoral processes; public ethics; environmental politics.
University of Glasgow College of Social Sciences PhD Scholarship in data retrieval and electoral violence
The University of Glasgow’s College of Social Sciences offers a PhD scholarship for the following project: ‘Measuring and Accounting for Spatial and Temporal Trends in Electoral Violence’. The aim of this project is to develop the data retrieval and analysis tools to identify, code, measure and account for spatial and temporal trends in electoral violence. The project will involve a joint collaboration between computing science and political science.
The PhD scholarship will cover a period of 48 months and includes a tuition waiver, an annual grant at the European Research Council recommended rates (£13,726 in 2013-14), and up to £5300 annually to support conference travel. Students from both EU and non-EU countries are encouraged to apply.
The candidate is expected to be in residence in the autumn of 2014, though there is some flexibility in this date.
In recent decades, more states have begun to hold elections, but many of these events have been beset by violence. Addressing spatial and temporal patterns in electoral violence is thus an urgent social and political need in today’s world. One of the reasons why electoral violence is not better understood is that social scientists currently have limited data on the phenomenon, and data collection via traditional political science methods is difficult, due to the covert nature of electoral violence and due to the dangers associated with conventional fieldwork-based data collection techniques.
Gaining a clearer insight into the spatio-temporal dynamics of electoral violence will have multiple advantages for scholars and practitioners alike, shedding light on an under-studied phenomenon, providing policy-makers with an early-warning device and enabling practical strategies for combating electoral violence to be improved.
This cross-College interdisciplinary project will harness the power of ‘big data’ retrieval methodologies to develop a data collection tool that can be deployed in real time to monitor electoral violence via the collection of web-based information on incidents of electoral violence that occur before, during and after an election.
The project will also involve the use of the resulting data to model spatial and temporal trends in electoral violence with a view to understanding common patterns in its initiation and development.
The candidate should have a good undergraduate degree in a mathematically literate subject such as Computing Science, Statistics, Maths, Physics, Econometrics or Computational Political Science. Their transcript must also show adequate marks on some programming courses.
Experience in developing software systems that process very large amounts of data is essential, as are data analysis/interpretation skills and a keen interest in international politics.
A working knowledge of statistical inferencing and/or text processing skills (classification, information retrieval etc.) would be desirable.
Experience working with large social media collections (e.g. Twitter) is also desirable.
The candidate will be expected to work processing large collections of Twitter feed information using the parallel computing facilities of the School of Computing Science. They will need to familiarise themselves with the existing corpus of tools developed by the School of Computing Science for the processing of such data, and carry out innovative research into the use of social media feeds to extract real-time political events.
The project team
Prof Sarah Birch (Principal investigator)
School of Social and Political Sciences
Dr Paul Cockshott (Co-investigator)
School of Computing Science
For more information on this scholarship, please see: http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/postgraduateresearch/scholarships/kelvinsmith/recruitingscholarshipprojects/#MeasuringAccount
For the terms and conditions of the scholarship, including student eligibility, please see section 5 of the link below. For more specifics on the value and duration of the scholarship, see section 2: http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_298497_en.pdf
The candidate will be expected to commence the PhD in October 2014 (though a starting date of January 2015 would also be feasible).
Please contact the Prof. Sarah Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org, directly to enquire about applying for this scholarship.
The position will remain open until filled.
- Corruption (Honours)
- Authoritarianism (Honours)
Sarah Birch has been involved in projects with a variety of intergovernmental organisations and initiatives, including the United Nations Development Programme, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, International IDEA, the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, and the United States Agency for International Development, as well as UK-based institutions such as the Electoral Commission, the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Association of Electoral Administrators. She has also contributed to popular media outlets including the BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4, the Independent and the Sun.