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Empirical Studies of Conflict


A Somali soldier
Photo credit: 
Nicholai Lidow


Senior Research Scholar
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Political Science
  • Professor, Political Science
  • Senior Fellow, Woods Institute
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Political Science

The Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC) addresses critical challenges to international security through methodologically rigorous, evidence-based analyses of insurgency, civil war and other sources of politically motivated violence. The project is comprised of leading scholars from across the country from a variety of academic disciplines. ESOC aims to empower high quality of conflict analysis by creating and maintaining a repository of micro-level data across multiple conflict cases and making these data available to a broader community of scholars and policy analysts. Started by CISAC’s Joe Felter and Princeton’s Jake Shapiro in 2009, the project is committed to providing policymakers and practitioners with greater expert analyses and recommendations for responding to pressing security threats. 

In early 2013, ESOC launched its open-source website and made available its significant collection of high quality micro-level conflict data and information on politically motivated violence. This collection — compiled, cleaned and organized by ESOC researchers — lowers the startup costs for scholars and analysts who want to conduct research on conflict and related topics. With this website, ESOC intends to close the information gap created by the difficulty in accessing quality micro-data on conflict. This will give the broader community of scholars, policy analysts and military strategists access to information that will help them better manage conflicts and respond to security threats. 

The project and its website are jointly run by CISAC, Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict. The site currently includes data from Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam, and will soon add pages on Kenya and Mexico. Users can filter their research by themes, including:  Demographic/Socioeconomic, Geography, Infrastructure, Public Opinion and Violence. This allows an expert, for example, to zero-in on specific public opinion data in Afghanistan. Further, users are able to submit data in GIS and Tabular format. ESOC participants’ papers are also available on the site, as are archived interviews. Additionally, past research that has been helpful to ESOC participants is made available, as are links to external data sites. 

Funding Provided By:

  • DoD Minerva Research Initiative through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), "Terrorism, Governance, and Development"
  • Army Research Laboratory (ARL), "Measuring, Understanding, and Responding to Covert Social Networks: Passive and Active Tomography," through a sub-award from Harvard University
  • CREATE, the National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, at the University of Southern California, sponsored by United States Department of Homeland Security
  • Hoover Institution, Support of archival research, including Mining Afghan Lessons from the Soviet Experience (MALSE); micro-data collection and coding
  • International Growth Centre, "Political Violence in Pakistan – Understanding Subnational Patterns”
  • Office of Naval Research (ONR) through the National Bureau of Economic Research
  • National Science Foundation (NSF): "NetSE: Medium: Robust Socio-Technological Networks: An Inter-disciplinary Approach to Theoretical Foundation and Experimentation," and “Governance, Development and Political Violence Workshop"
  • Palantir
  • USAID Development Innovation Ventures, “Measuring the Impact of Election Monitoring on Ballot Fraud and on Government Legitimacy in Afghanistan"


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