Thursday, May 22, 2008

Announcement: Symposium on Causality, in Germany

The following message was sent to the SEMNET listserve discussion group:

Dear colleagues,

We would like to kindly invite you to the Symposium on Causality 2008, scheduled for July 17th to 19th in Dornburg (near Jena), Germany. The symposium brings together different traditions of analysis of causal effects (regression-based analyses, analyses based on propensity scores, analyses with instrumental variables) to discuss the state-of-the-art in the analysis of causal effects, with a special focus on non-standard designs and problems (missing data, non-compliance, multilevel designs, regression discontinuity designs).

The symposium will be structured along seven focus presentations by leading proponents in different fields of causality research. Each focus presentation will be discussed and supplemented by two invited discussants, followed by an open discussion among all participants. Focus presentations will be given by Donald B. Rubin, Thomas D. Cook, William R. Shadish, Rolf Steyer, Steven G. West, Christopher Winship and Michael E. Sobel.

There will also be ample room for participants to present and discuss their research during the symposium. Participants who want to present their research findings are asked to register for the symposium no later than June 15 and submit a title and an abstract for their presentation together with their registration. The mode of presentation (oral presentation or poster) will be determined by the organization committee depending on the total number and quality of the submissions. Other participants should register no later than June 29.

The registration fee for the symposium is 80 Euros including a daily bus transfer from Jena to Dornburg and refreshments during the conference. You can also register for the conference dinner for additional 30 Euros. To register, please visit our webpage [English, German], where you can also find additional information about the contents and structure of the symposium. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us.

We hope to see you soon in Jena!

Rolf Steyer and Benjamin Nagengast

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Special Series of Articles in Developmental Psychology

by Alan

The March 2008 issue of Developmental Psychology contains a special series of around 15 methodolocially and statistically oriented articles (Table of Contents). Three of the articles explicitly refer in their titles to causal inference, and others of the articles may have relevant ideas, as well. The three titles mentioning causation are as follows:

From statistical associations to causation: What developmentalists can learn from instrumental variables techniques coupled with experimental data (Gennetian, Magnuson, & Morris)

Using full matching to estimate causal effects in nonexperimental studies: Examining the relationship between adolescent marijuana use and adult outcomes (Stuart & Green)

Combining group-based trajectory modeling and propensity score matching for causal inferences in nonexperimental longitudinal data (Haviland, Nagin, Rosenbaum, & Tremblay)

At this stage, I have only skimmed through these (and other) articles in the issue. The techniques of "instrumental variables" and "matching" have, of course, been around for many years. I will be interested to see in greater depth what new contributions these articles make with such established techniques. Only within the past six months did I first hear the term "propensity score;" in skimming the many articles in the issue that use propensity scores, however, I've learned that this approach, too, has been around for decades!

Causal inference from nonexperimental data clearly is a complex, tricky endeavor. Perhaps it is for this reason that the kinds of techniques discussed in the special series have needed a quarter-century or longer to be absorbed, tested in different contexts, and diffused across disciplines.