Welcome to the world of science
Starting in October 2014, twenty students from Leiden University were introduced to the world of science during their Honours Class ‘Gewicht in de Schaal’ (‘Scaled Weight’), an interdisciplinary lecture by Prof. Dr. W.J.M. Voermans. One participant has shared her experiences with us.
Firstly, we visited the PDC/Montesquieu Institute in The Hague. Here, we learned about several research methods to quantify a parliamentarian’s ‘weight’. The research institute arranged a presentation for us about ‘The European elections scale’, a research programme currently taken place.
Afterwards, we viewed several Member of European Parliament (MEP) Candidates’ biographies for the period 2004-2014, and, by using a rating scale, rated them. This research allows scientists from Leiden University and the PDC/Montesquieu Institute to analyse the importance of the European Parliament for national political parties.
In the second part of the Honours Class we were tasked to contribute to a new scale: one to measure the ‘impact’ of MPs. We investigated which ‘objective factors’ were responsible for a high ranking on the list of candidates for the elections of the Dutch House of Representatives. For our research we also relied on existing literature.
Next, we were introduced to the world of the empirical political science, with a guest lecture by Prof. Dr. R.B. Andeweg. Other quest lectures were organised by several leading MPs, like Mei Li Vos (PvdA), Lea Bouwmeester (PvdA), and Kees van der Staaij (SGP). After the lectures, we had the opportunity to ask critical questions about current affairs, their background and personal experiences, preferential policies, the media, candidate recruitment and selection procedures.
Following our conservation with the MPs, we set up a research proposal. Separated in a couple of teams, we empirically investigated several objective factors. Moreover, we were able to add to our data to the PDC/Montesquieu Insitute’s database. Finally, we presented our first research data results during the last meeting. The data we collected is still being analysed as we speak. Time will tell which factors will generally lead to a high ranking!
(6 February 2015/Angela Walraven)