If you are interested in studying social media and politics as part of your time as a PhD student at NYU, we want to begin by recommending that you take the Social Media and Politics PhD course taught by the lab directors, Jonathan Nagler and Joshua Tucker, every fall semester.
If you are interested in working on research at NYU’s Center for Social Media and Politics (CSMaP), there are a variety of ways to go about doing this. Some people get involved just to write a single paper or two, while others make their work with CSMaP a major part of their graduate research efforts. It is also worth noting that one way some people have started working with CSMaP is to build off of the research proposal that serves as the term paper for the Social Media and Politics course.
The lab is a very collaborative institution. It is organized in a way similar to natural science labs where many different people may make distinct contributions to any given paper and become co-authors of the paper to recognize those contributions. Typically a paper should have a note describing the nature of those contributions. We operate this way for several reasons. First, computational social science of the type done by the lab often involves many pieces of work coming together. There is a modular nature to how we process and analyze data. Second, collaboration brings many different talents together and can produce better scientific output.
PhD students interested in carrying out research with CSMaP have two options: working on a co-authored “standard CSMaP paper” with other members of the lab, either as a lead or middle author, or working on their own solo-authored work.
Standard CSMaP Paper
A “standard CSMaP paper” is defined as a paper that utilizes CSMaP resources, be that data collected by CSMaP, CSMaP funding, or the time of CSMaP full time staff such as research engineers.
Standard CSMaP papers use the extensive system of CSMaP documentation (e.g., bespoke Google Drives, Asana Board, Slack channels, etc.) and code review. Standard CSMaP papers are also supported by the CSMaP lab manager, and, when appropriate, project managers.
PhD students working on CSMaP papers either do so as a “lead author” if they are taking a lead role on the paper or as a “middle author” if someone else is taking the lead role on a paper (see more details on author roles).
Standard CSMaP papers all have at least one of the CSMaP Principal Investigators (PIs) on the paper as the last author(s), with one of the PIs designated as the “Lead PI” on the paper.
Standard CSMaP papers will often have additional “middle authors” (or co-lead authors) on the paper based on the contributions people have made to the paper. The decision on who to include as middle authors will be made in consultation with the lead author(s).
To reiterate, PhD students can contribute to Standard CSMaP papers as either lead author(s) or middle authors.
Political Science as a discipline is catching up with the benefits of co-authorship. But when you are on the job-market, some schools or individuals may penalize you if you do not have a major single-authored paper. This is something you should be aware of, and we suggest serious discussions with the lab directors and other faculty advisors on how you want to approach this.
If you are interested in writing a solo-authored paper using lab resources, that is also possible. The process works as follows.
Solo-Authored Paper by a PhD Student
You would first meet with one or both of the lab directors to discuss what you are proposing to do. We would then try to scope out the level of resources needed. If the proposed work sounds like it would be a reasonable lift for the lab, we would arrange for you to proceed with the paper.
The paper would be written in the same manner as any other solo-authored paper you would write as a PhD student, and therefore would not require the use of CSMaP documentation systems and would not be supported by the CSMaP lab manager.
What we would ask in return for using lab resources for solo-authored work is that you make an effort to participate in a meaningful role as a co-author, either a lead or middle author, on another lab paper. This is contingent of course on finding a paper of interest to you on which you could make a contribution. The hope here is that even if you prefer to work on a solo-authored paper, you would still be involved in another paper that would allow you to gain the experience of working on a collaborative CSMaP paper.
We would also expect you to acknowledge the use of lab resources (and thus its funders) in your work, and we would want the option to post it on the lab website.
Metz, T., & Jäckle, S. (2017). Patterns of Publishing in Political Science Journals: An Overview of Our Profession Using Bibliographic Data and a Co-Authorship Network. PS: Political Science & Politics, 50(1), 157-165. doi: 10.1017/S1049096516002341
And such penalties could vary depending on your gender or ethnicity (See for example: Sarsons, Heather, et al. "Gender differences in recognition for group work." Journal of Political Economy 129.1 (2021): 101-147). doi: 10.1086/711401