Professor Murphy holds a longstanding interest in human cognition and motivation. He initially pursued these interests within the field of history, which underscored the importance of context for understanding and interpreting how people understand, interpret, and interact with the world around them. However, he was frustrated by retrospective nature of the discipline and ultimately shifted his attention to the more proactive field of public policy.
Dr. Murphy studied public policy under Professor William Dunn at the University of Pittsburgh, and quickly realized he had a penchant for research methods that relate to the field. A good portion of his doctoral training was spent in search of the approaches to research and analysis that help to bridge the gap between numeric and descriptive research, resulting in a fondness for mixing methodologies.
This mixed-methods approach to understanding the world around us has similarly come to define the Mixed methods, Evaluation, Design, and Analysis (META) Lab, which Dr. Murphy directs. The META Lab is essentially a repository – and outlet – for anyone who is interested in applying the analytic skills that they either already have, or wish to grow. Students there are able to develop and hone their skills even beyond the curriculum available in regular courses, and frequently do so for clients and colleagues.
Courses offered in the past two years.
- Current term ●
- Upcoming term(s) ○
The course is an introduction to inferential statistics with an emphasis on Policy Analysis applications. Topics to be covered include sampling, estimation, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, and simple and multiple regression analysis. The course will also include an introduction to the use of the computer as a tool for data analysis using leading statistical packages, as well as Excel statistical functions.
Spring 2018 - MIIS
This class builds on Data Analysis for Public Policy and covers advanced topics commonly used in very diverse areas of policy analysis, specifically data reduction techniques (factor analysis) and non-linear models (logistic regression). The course also includes minor sections on data manipulation, formatting of raw data (flat, text files); databases; and proprietary data formats.
Spring 2018 - MIIS
This course is a guided introduction to conceptualizing problems and making sense of quantitative information in the policy sphere. The course begins by introducing the theory and practice of policy analysis. The stages of the public policy process and methods for structuring policy inquiry are introduced to provide a means for deconstructing policy problems and asking relevant and practical questions in a policy context.
Next the class is introduced to how such questions are addressed using quantitative tools. Topics to be covered include sampling, estimation, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, and regression techniques. This will basically be a primer on applying inferential statistics to policy problems. The course will also include introductory training in the use of innovative statistical software, as well as Excel statistical functions.
Fall 2016 - MIIS, Fall 2017 - MIIS
This course introduces students to the skills and concepts at the core of a dynamic and rapidly developing interdisciplinary field. Network analytic tools focus on the relationships between nodes (e.g., individuals, groups, organizations, countries, etc.). We analyze these relationships to uncover or predict a variety of important factors (e.g., the potential or importance of various actors, organizational vulnerabilities, potential subgroups, the need for redundancy, social and economic ties, growth within a network, …). Although the security field has received the greatest amount of recent attention (covert or terrorist networks), these tools can offer valuable insight into a variety of disciplines. The combination of – often stunning – visual analytic techniques with more quantitative measures accounts for much of the increasing worldwide popularity of this field.
At the end of the semester, students will be able to:
Explain and apply a number of the concepts that underpin network analysis Apply concepts such as centrality, brokerage, equivalence and diffusion to network data Critically evaluate structures and substructures within a network Perform a variety of approaches to clustering and cohesion to networks Analyze networks using a variety of software packages
Fall 2016 - MIIS, Fall 2017 - MIIS
As a part of the policy wraparound course progression, a maximum of 35 MIIS and Middlebury students will deploy to two research sites, Nepal and Peru, over the 2015 J-Term. Each student team will collect data and carry out field research related to key policy research questions during approximately three and a half weeks during January 2015.
These linked practica are closely integrated with the Field Methods course (IPSG 8609) offered during the Fall 2015 semester. In the Field Methods course, students apply policy-research concepts learned in the Field Methods and the earlier Policy and Data Analysis (IPSG 8500) courses to the design of a country-specific, client specified field-research project, which they will carry out in these J-Term practica (participants in these research practica are entirely drawn from the participants in the Field Methods course). Students returning from the three experiences may enroll in a follow-up course during the Spring 2015 semester -- Advanced Topics in Policy Analysis -- in which they will learn data-analytical techniques to be used in analyzing the data they collected from the three sites, and they will collaborate in the elaboration of final research deliverables.
Spring 2017 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only
Salinas Police-Community Relations Field Research
As a part of the policy wraparound course progression, a maximum of 35 MIIS and Middlebury students will deploy to two research sites, Nepal and Salinas, over the 2017 J-Term. Each student team will collect data and carry out field research related to key policy research questions during approximately three and a half weeks during January 2017.
These linked practica are closely integrated with the Field Methods course (IPSG 8609) offered during the Fall semester. In the Field Methods course, students apply policy-research concepts learned in the Field Methods and the earlier Policy and Data Analysis (IPSG 8500) courses to the design of a site-specific, client specified field-research project, which they will carry out in these J-Term practica (participants in these research practica are entirely drawn from the participants in the Field Methods course). Students returning from the three experiences may enroll in a follow-up course during the Spring 2017 semester -- Advanced Topics in Policy Analysis -- in which they will learn data-analytical techniques to be used in analyzing the data they collected from the three sites, and they will collaborate in the elaboration of final research deliverables.
This is variable 2 or 4 credits, and may be audited. Those wishing to audit or take the practicum for 4 credits will need the Professor's approval.
Spring 2017 - MIIS, MIIS Winter/J Term only
This hands-on course focuses on analysis of qualitative data. “Qualitative data”, refers to interview, focus group, written reports and visual records; hundreds of pages of them. Qualitative data sets will be provided, as there is no time in this short course to engage in primary data collection. Our entire focus will be on a) deciding how to interrogate the data (what is it you wish to know, demonstrate, reveal, test?), b) developing code books and coding, c) inter-coder reliability, and d) a wide variety of analytical approaches you can use, once you have qualitative data reduced and organized.
This course emphasizes the importance of learning-through-doing, making mistakes, and collaborative analysis (qualitative inquiry is almost always improved through collaboration). Your final product will be a written analysis that summarizes your findings.
Spring 2017 - MIIS
The course is designed to complete a full-cycle experience of research applied to policy processes, from conceptualization and design to effective deliverables. The sequence starts with the foundations offered in the Fall class, and continues with the field work in J-term. The Spring class delves deeper into the same relevant policy issues from the Fall and J-term, seeking to close the cycle with a report to stakeholders. While this report is not expected to be the final word on a complex policy issue, it should be more relevant and useful than could have been accomplished without the field research component.
• The main themes of the Spring class are additional theoretical/conceptual topics in design and policy analysis, as well as specific tools. Please keep in mind that not all tools will be applicable to all, or even perhaps any, of the specific projects chosen, but may be vital to future policy-relevant research and writing in your academic and professional careers.
• Hands-on analysis of the specific projects conducted in J-term, including further refining hypotheses to be tested, bolstering understanding of background materials and context, strengthening argumentation, analyzing data (from surveys, interviews, and/or other sources), and interjecting research findings effectively into the policymaking process.
The hallmark of this class is the intersection of theoretical discussions (covering aspects of policy analysis and research methods, economic development and its measurement, data analysis and effective data presentation, etc.) and the practical imperative of the specific projects, carried over from the first two classes. Student’s ownership of their topics supports a creative environment, assisted by the full faculty team, in which students can produce high-level reports worthy of inclusion in their professional portfolios. Teams will continue their analysis of concrete policy issues in El Salvador, Monterey, and Peru, although the range of research and policy analysis skills and techniques taught will not be limited to those directly applicable to all of these projects. Final deliverables must satisfy your “client,” who may not be one of the course instructors.
Spring 2017 - MIIS
non-standard grade, WTR
Winter 2016, Winter 2017
This course is the first in a series of three steps that provides the instruction and experience in conducting and analyzing field research as part of a dedicated research team. Anyone planning to run or collaborate in a field research project would benefit from the opportunity to take part in a functioning research team.
The Fieldwork course follows Introduction to Policy and Data Analysis and focuses on preparing the tools that will be used in the field to gather information that is relevant to a particular research program. In each case, groups within this class will work with a client in the country or region to design and train in the use of tools that to address the client’s needs.
The course covers the design and construction of surveys, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups, as well as how to design sampling strategies for each. Course participants will design working versions of at least two of these tools and prepare them for use in the field. The tools that come out of this course will be the ones that are used when groups go into the field on their J-Term practica.
Fall 2016 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop
Areas of Interest
The field of public policy covers two main aspects: governments’ roles in making policy; and the public’s reaction to that policy. When you keep in mind that public policy is essentially an attempt by a government to influence human behavior, the field quickly becomes interesting. Add to that the fact that people are involved in every aspect of the policy making process, and the policy field becomes all the more fascinating as the competition and interactions begin to become clearer. I’m especially interested in assessing social capital and ideological groups through the lens of social network analysis.
- PhD, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Professor Murphy has been teaching at the Institute since 2008.
- Knowledge Hub and Inventory of Opportunities
- Getting It Done: A Brief Overview of Critical Junctures in the Study of How Policy Translates into Practice
- Public Administration Education in Macedonia: Accelerating the Process
- Social Policy and International Interventions in South East Europe
- Models, Methods, and Stereotypes: Efforts to Maintain, Reify, and Create Macedonia's Ethnopolitical Identities and How Research Can Move beyond Them
- Public Policy Analysis and Its Importance to Public Administration Reform