Technological Modernization of Political Science Research

Project: Research project

Project Details


In Colombia, there is a considerable backlog of technological developments that can be applied to political science research. On the other hand, in other parts of the world, such as the United States, France and Germany, political scientists have learned to work hand in hand with computer engineers to carry out this type of technological development that allows them to systematize, organize and analyze information with greater effectiveness and precision. Technological modernization applied to research in Political Science is fundamental not only for academia, but also for society in general, since it allows the production of new knowledge on substantial subjects.
This project seeks to improve the research processes of several research teams of the Center for Political and International Studies (CEPI) through a series of technological developments. This greater technological deployment aims to renew our research processes, establishing new protocols and new research methodologies, especially with regard to the collection, organization, processing and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data.
The project therefore aims to provide CEPI with special technological and computer tools that improve the quality of the empirical work carried out by the following observatories: Observatorio de la Opinión Pública y de la Información de Interés Público (OPIP), Observatorio de los Procesos Electorales (OPE) and Observatorio de Redes y Acción Colectiva (ORAC), thus making possible the production of new scientific knowledge in different thematic areas such as the legislative activity of the Congress of the Republic, electoral processes and the constitution of forced displacement and kidnapping as public problems. Given the social, political and academic relevance of these issues, the new knowledge produced will be made visible through specialized Internet pages that can be consulted by any citizen.
Among the specific technical objectives contemplated in this project are:
-The creation of computer applications that allow us to retrieve, from the Internet and with some degree of automaticity, different textual materials related to our areas of research (especially legislative documents and national and international press articles).
-The conception of databases with textual materials or statistical data collected in each of the Observatories, some of them with the possibility of being consulted on the Internet by external users.
-The introduction into our research methodologies with computer tools that have already been developed to analyze large masses of texts (Prospero) and to produce cartographic materials (Philcarto).
We propose a methodology for the implementation and improvement of the computer systems of the research work of each Observatory, with the aim of creating not only a space for the production of knowledge linked to the teaching and research activities of our Faculties and the University, but also an academic space open to the world, through which external entities (private or governmental) can contract the provision of specific services, such as analysis and interpretation of the information contained in our databases, as well as the elaboration of cartographic material, useful for the resolution of specific topics.

Commitments / Obligations

-Within the framework of the binational scientific cooperation programme Ecos-Nord that we are carrying out with GSPR researchers since September 2009, we have worked to adapt, to the Spanish language and to the needs of our research groups, computer tools created and developed in France to analyse large masses of texts (Próspero).
-The writing of computer scripts in Python language, in order to automatically retrieve and format texts from Internet pages, is also a technological development of this project. For us, these scripts are not only applications that will help us save time in collecting empirical materials, but also products that will force us to reflect and innovate in terms of research protocols. The scripts will be installed in the computers of the members of our research groups and will help us to define standardized ways of retrieving and storing textual materials.

-With this project, the OPIP will develop a complete and dynamic database of legislative information that can be consulted on the Internet. Unlike what can be found on other websites today, the OPIP website will allow consultation of our database with advanced search criteria. In other words, instead of simply putting legislative texts online with some basic information, we will also offer information that will be the product of qualitative analysis of the textual material collected, carried out with the help of computer tools designed by the GSPR. We have no doubt that this type of product will give an important visibility to the research work of the OPIP outside the University.

-The other observatories will also constitute their own databases: the OPE will consolidate its electoral database and the ORAC will organize a database with press articles related to the kidnapping and forced displacement of people in Colombia over several years.

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Effective start/end date5/1/129/15/14

Main Funding Source

  • Internal