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Journal of Peace Research award December 15, 2008

Posted by dissident93 in Iraq mortality.

The Journal of Peace Research Article of the Year Award has gone to Neil F. Johnson, Michael Spagat, Sean Gourley, Jukka-Pekka Onnela & Gesine Reinert for ‘Bias in Epidemiological Studies of Conflict Mortality’ (Journal of Peace Research 45(5): 653–663).

This is the “main street bias” (msb) research which highlighted problems with a variant of cluster-sampling methodology used to estimate mortality from the Iraq war/occupation (in the study by Burnham et al, published in the Lancet journal, 2006).

According to the jury who awarded the prize, the peer-reviewed study on msb:

…provides an important advance in the methodology for estimating the number of casualties in civil wars. The authors show convincingly that previous studies which are based on a cross-street cluster-sampling algorithm (CSSA) have significantly overestimated the number of casualties in Iraq.

Several of my friends and colleagues have been (over-)protective of the Lancet study ever since George Bush ignorantly declared that its methodology was “not credible”. I hope they’ll come to realise that the business of importing epidemiological techniques into conflict-zone research on violent deaths (for which they were not originally designed) has a long way to go. And that research such as the above should be seen as part of the much-needed scientific progress in this area, not as another “enemy” of the antiwar cause.