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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Robert Shaffer

B.A., Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

Robert Shaffer



I am currently a PhD student in the Government Department at UT Austin, studying Public Law and Methodology. I received my B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in Spring 2012, with a focus in Law and Jurisprudence.

Generally, I am interested in comparative law and statutory design. In all countries, statutes express preferences and shape institutional forms, empowering and restricting various parts of government. My work attempts to study statutory design from an empirical perspective, using computational methods to analyze structural characteristics of legal language. Currently, most of my work focuses on delegation - i.e. the powers and restrictions provided to executive agencies by ordinary statutes, and the political and institutional features that cause legislators to delegate different kinds and levels of authority.

Methodologically, most of my research relies on natural language processing and machine learning tools. My recent APSA presentation, for example, uses the Stanford CoreNLP grammatical parser to develop a new delegation metric, and tests that tool on data obtained from the Comparative Constitutions Project. 

Since Fall 2012, I have been affiliated with the Comparative Constitutions Project (CCP). Among other work for CCP, I have contributed to various data exploration and visualization tools, including Constitute (a database of the world's constitutions) and the National Constitution Center's (NCC) Constitutional Rights exhibit.

You can find links to my projects below:


Comparative law, statutory design, natural language processing, computational methods, environmental policy
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