1. “The Effect of  Readability on the Impact of  U.S. Supreme Court Precedents in State High Courts”

Authors: Michael P. Fix and Bailey R. Fairbanks

Social Science Quarterly (Forthcoming – Spring 2020)


Existing research has examined a number of factors that influence the impact of
U.S. Supreme Court precedents in a variety of contexts. This article extends this
work to examine whether more readable U.S. Supreme Court opinions are cited with
greater frequency in state courts of last resort. We argue that institutional constraints,
workload considerations, and audience costs should lead state high courts to find clearly
written opinions more attractive than jargon-laden ones, making the readability of a
U.S. Supreme Court precedent a useful heuristic for selecting among potential relevant
precedents. Examining 30 years of state high court citations to U.S. Supreme Court
majority opinions issued during the 1987{2006 terms, we show that the readability of
U.S. Supreme Court opinions has a strong, independent impact on citation rates.

2. “Merging Undergraduate Teaching, Graduate Training, and Producing Research: Lessons from Three Collaborative Experiments”

Authors: Toby Bolsen, Bailey R. Fairbanks, Eduardo Aviles, Reagan Griggs Pritchett, Justin Kingsland, Kristina LaPlant, Matthew Montgomery, and Natalie Rogol

PS: Political Science and Politics ( July 2018) 


Teaching undergraduate students, mentoring graduate students, and generating publishable research are distinct tasks for many political scientists.  This article highlights lessons for merging these activities through experiences from an initiative that sparked a series of collaborative research projects focused on opinions about crime and punishment in the U.S.  In this paper, we highlight three collaborative projects conducted between 2015– 2017 in order to demonstrate how to merge undergraduate teaching, graduate training, and producing research.  We provide information about how: (1) undergraduate students learned about social scientific research through hands-on experiences designing experiments, collecting and analyzing original data, and presenting the findings to a public audience; (2) graduate students were mentored through co-teaching undergraduate students research methods alongside faculty and peers, and gained valuable experience collecting, analyzing, and reporting the results from experimental studies; and, (3) this approach can generate knowledge and advance career goals by resulting in working papers that serve as the basis for conference presentations and potentially co-authored journal articles.


books and papers

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