Philip Leifeld
Philip Leifeld


I am a Professor of Comparative Politics in the Department of Government at the University of Essex. My disciplinary background is in political science and public policy, with a secondary focus on research methodology and network science.

My research is mainly about political networks. I have published extensively on how policy networks operate, the role of interest groups and advocacy in policy formulation and decision making, and institutional design in international organisations. To this end, I have also contributed methodological innovations in the areas of network science and statistics, including network models for longitudinal data and associated statistical software packages.

My work on discourse network analysis combines network science and content analysis to build theory on how policy debates work. My software Discourse Network Analyzer (DNA) and its associated R package rDNA have been used in many projects and almost 300 theses and publications. You can watch a tutorial video on YouTube as a primer. The basic idea of DNA is that policy debates among elite actors (e.g., interest groups, legislators, government agencies etc) in text data such as newspaper articles can be analysed as temporal networks. The DNA software allows you to code positive or negative statements actors make about concepts in a qualitative way and then export them into various kinds of networks. We can then apply the whole array of network-analytic methods to the problem in order to identify changing coalitions in the policy debate, polarisation of debates, opinion leadership, and other things of interest. I have spent much time figuring out the right transformations and methods that operationalise theories in politics/policy.

I am also the author and maintainer of the texreg R package, which creates regression tables in various formats. The package is in the 96th percentile of R package downloads. It takes more than 100 statistical models and creates highly customisable regression tables for LaTeX, HTML, Word, ASCII, and inclusion in Markdown documents. I have recently added innovative ways to gauge user feedback through the use of a "praise" function.

Before joining Essex, I was a professor of research methods at the University of Glasgow in the School of Social and Political Sciences. At Glasgow, I gained extensive leadership experience by serving as Director of Postgraduate Research Training for eleven Departments. I introduced a new methods programme into the College-wide Graduate School, covering eleven Departments or subjects across five Schools, and served in various associated administrative and leadership roles. In my current position at Essex, I also hold a number of leadership roles, including Deputy Director of the Centre for Social and Economic Network Analysis (SENA) and division lead for "Political Institutions". I also collaborate with the Institute for Analytics and Data Science (IADS) through a knowledge transfer partnership with data scientists team at Preqin, a multi-national market intelligence firm in the alternative assets industry with headquarters in London. I provide service to the professional through my work as founding member of MethodsNet and deputy chair (2023-24) and chair (2024-25) of the APSA Section on Political Networks.

At Essex, I teach GV924 The Politics of Public Policy in the Essex MPP and GV953 Advanced Quantitative Methods in the new MSc in Quantitative Political Science in the academic year of 2023/24. Previously, I taught a large, College-wide Research Design course with > 300 students at the postgraduate level at the University of Glasgow, a full-year advanced methods sequence at Essex, and I have also taught substantive politics modules on Political Parties and Public Choice, the Governance of Collective Goods, Pension Politics, Political Networks, and other topics. I occasionally teach summer school courses (for example, at the MethodsNet Summer School in Social Research Methods (3SRM) or at the IADS Summer School in Data Science and Analytics), mostly on statistical network analysis or discourse networks. I am also often invited to deliver workshops and occasionally keynotes on computational social science topics.