Prevention Research Center Conducts Legislative Research with Quorum

May 17, 2018

The Challenge: Accessing Legislative Data

The Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State University has a mission to elevate federal health policy that is based on scientific evidence and improve development among children and parents. To achieve this goal, the team at Edna Bennett needed a way to access vast amounts of legislative data as well as statements from elected officials to better analyze the nature of the policy conversations in Congress.

While government sites and academic databases offered some insight into these data sets, they lacked the analytical tools and filtering capacity for conducting research in a timely and efficient way. On top of that, researchers at Edna Bennett were looking for an easy way to communicate their research and publications to specific groups of congressional staffers on Capitol Hill.

The Solution: The Largest Database of Legislative Information

With Quorum’s database of legislative information, the Center could execute research projects with less time and a greater level of accuracy. From research to publication to briefing members of Congress, Quorum helps the Center achieve success in its academic work.

Text Search of Legislation

In doing research on what kinds of legislation gets through Congress on the issues the Center cares about, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Max Crowley, runs searches of bills in Quorum and seeks to find the proportion of legislation in a specific issue category that includes key terms the Center deems important.

Then, the team adds another layer of data and compares volume of mentions in legislation with the volume of mentions in conversations happening amongst legislators on social media, on the floor of the House and Senate, and other statements produced by congressional offices that are shared with constituents.

“We’ve been wondering how often a given term is actually being used in the legislation and in the conversations that are being had that are available in the Quorum platform,” Crowley said. “We’re wondering how the conversation is not only anecdotally but statistically related to where the bills actually go.”

With this content analysis, the Center can help discover correlation between success of passage and usage of key scientific terms.

Communication with Capitol Hill

Once the Center has completed its research and determined insights from its work, it seeks to communicate those insights with staffers in Congress. With Quorum, the Center has access to a database of staffers for each member of Congress that is searchable by issue area or position title. With this information, it saves time so that an employee doesn’t need to spend time figuring out who they need to reach out to with their information.

Then, they are able to pull staffer contact information into Quorum’s email tool, Outbox. The power to design Outbox emails and personalize the messaging to each office to improve the rate of engagement with their work.

The Impact: Informing Academic Literature

“We want to inform the academic literature,” Crowley said. “This data is out there, and Quorum in particular has done such a good job at organizing it, making it accessible.”

By integrating Quorum into their research process, the Center for the first time is able to conduct both data analysis and experimentation in the same place.

“Because of your data and the analytic work that we’re doing, we think [our work] is imminently publishable in a peer-reviewed journal,” Crowley said. “For doing analysis of bill language, it’s really been fantastic.

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