Audit Studies — The Book

There’s a new book edited by S. Michael Gaddis on audit studies. The subtitle promises to go behind the scenes with theory, method, and nuance — and this is what the book provides. As such, the book is a much needed contribution to the literature, where we typically see the results and little how we got there. With (not so) recent concerns around researcher degrees of freedom, the tour behind the scenes offered by the various chapters are an excellent way to make visible and apparent the ‘undisclosed flexibility’ as Simmons et al. called it in 2011. It’s one thing to discuss this in abstract terms, and it’s another thing to sit down with actual research and reflect on the many choices we have as researchers. Indeed, public reflection on research practices may be relatively rare in itself when it comes to quantitative research.

The book comes with a dedicated support webpage: http://auditstudies.com/ (do me the favour to update the “coming soon” banner). On this website, several chapters can be downloaded as pre-prints, though it’s not all the contents if someone is looking for a free book. I hope the authors will make their code available on the website as promised in several places in the book, because this will be another greatly helpful resource for those new to audit studies or looking for new directions.

I greatly enjoyed to read the reflections by other researchers doing audit studies, and would definitely recommend the book to anyone thinking of doing an audit study. At times there were passages that seemed a bit redundant to me, but all the chapters are written in such an accessible way that this didn’t bother me much. Where I think the book falls a bit short is on two fronts. First, it is very US-centric. In itself this is not an issue, but there are several instances where the authors don’t reflect that perhaps in other countries the markets are not organized the same way. In my view, a comparison to other countries and continents would have been fruitful to underline some of these assumptions — I’ve tried to just this on attitudes to immigrants. Second, the book is not a guidebook. I know, it doesn’t claim to be one, but the book asks so many (justified) questions and offers comparatively few concrete guidelines like Vuolo et al. offer it on statistical power. In this sense, the book will stimulate readers to think about their own research design and not provide a template. And this is actually a good thing, because as the chapters make apparent without normally saying so, there is no universal approach that suits different markets in different places and at different times.

So, should you buy the book? Yes if you want to carry out your own audit study, yes if you want to better understand and qualify the results of audit studies, and yes if you’re looking for guidelines — because the book will make you realize that you’re largely on your own. What would probably useful, though, would be a checklist of things to consider, something readers will have to create themselves on the basis of chapters 4 (Joanna Lahey and Ryan Beasley), 5 (Charles Crabtree), and 6 (Mike Vuolo, Christopher Uggen, and Sarah Lageson).

Gaddis, S. Michael, ed. 2018. Audit Studies: Behind the Scenes with Theory, Method, and Nuance. Methodos 14. New York: Springer. https://www.springer.com/cn/book/9783319711522

Ruedin, Didier. 2018. ‘Attitudes to Immigrants in South Africa: Personality and Vulnerability’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2018.1428086.

Simmons, Joseph P., Leif D. Nelson, and Uri Simonsohn. 2011. ‘False-Positive Psychology: Undisclosed Flexibility in Data Collection and Analysis Allows Presenting Anything as Significant’. Psychological Science 22 (11): 1359–66. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797611417632.

Vuolo, Mike, Christopher Uggen, and Sarah Lageson. 2016. ‘Statistical Power in Experimental Audit Studies: Cautions and Calculations for Matched Tests With Nominal Outcomes’. Sociological Methods & Research, 1–44. https://doi.org/10.1177/0049124115570066.

Zschirnt, Eva, and Didier Ruedin. 2016. ‘Ethnic Discrimination in Hiring Decisions: A Meta-Analysis of Correspondence Tests 1990–2015’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42 (7): 1115–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2015.1133279.>/small>

Overcoming pre-conceptions

The NCCR on the move have just published a mini-series on overcoming preconceptions. There are three videos of two minutes.

It’s hard to tell whether these are really pre-conceptions, because as far as I know we haven’t asked the general population.

I guess at this general level, there’s nothing controversial in there, but I can already see that to some 5% of 150,000 sounds like a lot of people, or the fact that the majority of immigrants will probably leave in the future can be twisted into denying access services.

If you don’t mind reading a few words, there are many more immigration facts available here: http://indicators.nccr-onthemove.ch/

Hiring now: Postdoctoral Researcher (4 years, 70% FTE)

We’re now hiring a postdoctoral researcher (4 years, 70% FTE) for a project on overcoming inequalities and ethnic discrimination in the labour market. The project is jointly with Wassilis Kassis. You’ll be working at the University of Neuchâtel, and will be joined by a doctoral students by the end of the year. Full advert here: http://nccr-onthemove.ch/wp_live14/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IP26-Jobs-NCCR-Phase-II-UNINE-PD.pdf

This position is one of the many currently advertised at the NCCR on the move: http://nccr-onthemove.ch/jobs/ — come and join us!

Out now: Participation in Local Elections: ‘Why Don’t Immigrants Vote More?’ in Parliamentary Affairs

My paper on the political participation of immigrants in the local elections of Geneva is now properly published at Parliamentary Affairs. In the article, I present a new representative survey on participation in the 2015 municipal elections in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland, and predict electoral participation with logistic regression models (predicted probabilities all around). Most immigrant groups vote less than the majority population. Social origin (resources), political engagement, civic integration and networks, as well as socialization are associated with differences in electoral participation, but contrary to some recent studies, substantive differences between nationalities remain.

The paper has its origins in a commissioned report Rosita Fibbi and I did (in French, executive summary in French). The research question is summarized in the (abbreviated) quote in the title: the sentiment that “we” have given “them” the right to vote in local elections (after 8 years of residence in the country), and yet they “don’t” vote (well not as often than “we” do). Quite fortunately we managed to convince the office of integration of the Geneva to allow us to make the survey data available to the academic community (cleaned version). The survey deliberately re-uses questions from the Swiss Electoral Study to enable a direct comparison, but Rosita and I added questions relevant to the research question and participation at the local level. The article is an independent analysis from the report, having spent more time on the topic that the rushed context of commissioned research allows.

Ruedin, Didier. 2018. ‘Participation in Local Elections: “Why Don”t Immigrants Vote More?’’. Parliamentary Affairs 71 (2): 243–262. https://doi.org/10.1093/pa/gsx024.