What are Datasets?
A Public Health Law Research Program “dataset” is a collection of systematically gathered data that reflect the features of a specific body of laws. Datasets are created by employing scientifically valid methods for measuring law. Each dataset is coded by number to allow for quantitative analysis, in a coding scheme provided in a codebook. The process for collecting the data is provided in a research protocol.
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The Public Health Law Research program is dedicated to building the evidence base for public health law. In pursuing this aim, we fund and conduct a diverse array of research activities ranging from formative efforts that identify important research questions to the generation of legal data sets to experiments employing various methodological designs.
As a service to policy-makers and other consumers of NPO research, we have organized our resources according to this hierarchy of evidence, which depicts levels of the scientific authority.
In general, resources higher up the pyramid are less susceptible to bias and therefore provide more robust evidence about the effects of public health laws. Experimental designs, for example, utilize randomization and double-blinding to reduce selection and measurement biases making them more powerful tools for understanding causal relationships than quasi-experimental and observational designs. At the top of our pyramid are studies that use systematic processes such as meta-analysis to assess a question in light of a body of primary studies that have examined it. At the bottom of our pyramid are foundational resources like legal datasets and papers setting out research agendas. The bulk of our resources are primary studies in the middle two levels.
While this hierarchy reflects judgments about the authority of various designs, it does not suggest that research employing a design from a higher level is always more scientifically authoritative than research conducted in a design from a lower level.