Grant Opportunity for Empirical Research on Law and Economics

The following grant opportunity was recently posted to SSRN:

Request for Proposals: Policy Relevant Empirical Research on Law and Economics

Searle Civil Justice Institute, George Mason University Law & Economics Center

INTRODUCTION: The Searle Civil Justice Institute (SCJI) is a public policy institute based at George Mason University’s Law & Economics Center. SCJI’s core mission is to provide research regarding the impact of laws and regulations on economic growth that is analytically rigorous, balanced, accessible, and useful to policy makers. SCJI works diligently to maximize the effectiveness of such research through large-scale public policy conferences, public policy reports, and an extensive communications strategy.

SCJI’s primary focus is on conducting high-quality, large-scale, empirical research that has direct policy relevance. Each study involves the collection of a substantial amount of data, performance of statistical and econometric analyses, and production of an SCJI policy report within a timeframe of 6-12 months. SCJI empirical studies are designed to produce fact-based findings, undergo external peer review, and follow a detailed research protocol.

What distinguishes SCJI from both traditional academic research centers and Washington think tanks is that it targets leading academics from respected institutions and various disciplines to form collaborative teams that are able to view specific research questions from multiple angles. In addition, an in-house research team of econometricians and lawyers, as well as significant financial resources, allows SCJI to engage in data collection and outreach efforts that often exceed the means of individual academics.

SCJI is seeking proposals for large-scale empirical projects that will result in policy-relevant, fact-based findings. Authors need not have empirical expertise, but research questions should be answerable using data that can be hand-collected or obtained from another organization. If necessary, SCJI will pair substantive experts with methodological experts for proposals it chooses to fund. SCJI will select proposals through a three-stage process.

STAGE 1: CALL FOR PRELIMINARY STATEMENTS OF RESEARCH PROJECTS: SCJI requests Preliminary Statements of Research Projects, not to exceed one page. The Preliminary Statements should include a brief description of the policy issue(s) and the proposed empirical research questions. Aside from being policy relevant and topical, research projects should fall into one of the following categories:

– Class actions and aggregate litigation
– Criminalization of corporate conduct
– State and/or Federal False Claims Acts/qui tam/whistleblowers
– Consumer protection (e.g., consumer arbitration and consumer protection acts)
– States Attorneys General scope of enforcement authority/retention of private counsel
– Third-party financing of litigation
– Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (e.g., pleading standards, e-discovery, preservation)
– Expert evidence rules (e.g., Daubert, Frye, and gatekeeping standards)
– State and federal preemption/government standards defense
– Judicial elections and impartiality/judicial quality and effectiveness

SCJI will review these Preliminary Statements to determine which should proceed to stage 2.

STAGE 2: DEVELOPMENT OF FORMAL RESEARCH PROPOSAL AND PRESENTATION AT RESEARCH WORKSHOP: SCJI will pay an honorarium of $5,000 to selected authors of feasible, relevant, high-impact Preliminary Statements to more formally develop a research proposal. These, second stage, research proposals will need to include the following: an executive summary of two pages or less describing the proposal for a non-academic audience; a clear statement of the policy issue(s) to be studied; background and motivations; the specific empirical research questions; potential policy implications; proposed analyses and basic research plan; data needs, sources and estimated costs; and a timeline detailing milestones and deliverables.

Formal research proposals will be presented for review at a Research Workshop at George Mason University School of Law. SCJI will utilize the Research Workshop to determine which proposals will be fully funded in stage three.

SCJI will reserve the exclusive right to fund proposals presented at the Research Workshop for one year. If SCJI does not decide to fund a presented proposal within one year of presentation at the Research Workshop, the author(s) may pursue the project individually.

STAGE 3: MANAGE AND COMPLETE THE SCJI RESEARCH PROJECT: SCJI will fully support certain accepted proposals by paying author(s) to lead the research efforts, providing in-house econometricians and legal experts as project staff, paying for necessary data (which includes employing large numbers of Research Assistants to find and code data that might otherwise by unavailable), and funding a comprehensive communications strategy for the final Public Policy Report. On average, excluding honorariums to authors, SCJI spends between $70,000 – $100,000 to research and promote each project.

PROPOSAL SUBMISSION PROCEDURE: Initial Preliminary Statements of Research Proposals, not to exceed one page, must be received by June 15, 2011 in order to receive full consideration for the 2011-12 funding cycle. Please send Preliminary Statements electronically to:

SCJI will request a full proposal from selected authors by July 8, 2011.

The 2011 SCJI Empirical Research Workshop will take place in September 2011.

FURTHER INFORMATION:For further information, please contact:
Samantha Zyontz
Senior Research Associate, Searle Civil Justice Institute
George Mason University School of Law
3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201


For additional information about the Law & Economics Center, please visit:

For additional information about the Searle Civil Justice Institute, please visit:


About dwkj

Director of the McKusick Law Library, University of South Dakota School of Law
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