Philip Leifeld
Philip Leifeld


I am a Professor in Social Statistics in the Department of Social Statistics at the University of Manchester.

My research applies statistical modelling and network science to the politics of public policy. I study things like political networks, ideology, policy debates, the role of interest groups and advocacy in agenda-setting and decision making, and institutional design in international organisations. In social statistics, I am particularly interested in parametric models for longitudinal network data. I have also contributed several software packages for social research. Most of my research is in the domains of computational social science and the study of complex systems. Have a look at my Google Scholar profile.

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 more than 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 or legislative testimony 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.

From 2022 to 2027, I am a Mercator Fellow in the DFG Research Training Group 2720: "Digital Platform Ecosystems (DPE)" at the University of Passau in Germany, with a research stay from July to September 2024. I previously completed longer research visits at Columbia University, the Ohio State University, and the University of Maryland College Park.

Before joining Manchester in April 2024, I was a Professor of Comparative Politics in the Department of Government at the University of Essex for five years. At Essex, I served in various leadership capacities over the years: as Deputy Director of the Centre for Social and Economic Network Analysis, Division Head for the Political Institutions Cluster, Academic Offence Adjudicator, PGT Recruitment Officer, Director of Assistant Lecturers in the Department of Government, and PI and academic supervisor for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the data science team at Preqin, a multi-national market intelligence firm in the alternative assets industry with headquarters in London. During the first two years, I was also affiliated with the Institute for Analytics and Data Science (IADS) at Essex. Until 2019, I was a professor (and previously senior lecturer) in research methods in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. 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 of Social Sciences and served in various associated administrative and leadership roles, including chair of the exam board. I further provide service to the profession through my work as deputy chair (2023-24) and chair (2024-25) of the APSA Section on Political Networks.

At Manchester, I teach SOST70151 Statistical Foundations, parts of SOST71032 Statistical Models for Social Networks and SOST70032 Complex Survey Design and Analysis, and Complex Social Systems and Simulation (from 2025). Previously at Essex, I taught GV924 The Politics of Public Policy in the Essex MPP and GV953 Advanced Quantitative Methods in the MSc in Quantitative Political Science. Previously at Glasgow, I taught a large, College-wide Research Design course with > 300 students at the postgraduate level. 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 GESIS Fall Seminar in Computational Social Sciences), mostly on statistical network analysis or discourse networks. I am also occasionally invited to deliver workshops or keynotes on computational social science topics.