Michael Ward is the honored recipient of The 2018 Political Methodology Career Achievement Award
Mike’s enormous career achievements and contributions stand out in three dimensions: (1) his pioneering work in several methodological areas (estimation of dynamics; observational dependence, especially spatial and network interdependence; out-of-sample forecasting; and statistical graphics, for examples); (2) the early, sustained, and great effects his methodological contributions have had on the subfields of international relations and comparative politics, especially in the democratic peace literature; and (3) his years of service to the discipline in all capacities, but most importantly as a teacher and mentor. Mike has published more than 120 scholarly articles across the disciplines of political science, statistics, geography, and economics. His methodological work and its application to the study of conflict and peace continues to transform international relations. His early work on dependencies in arms races and the political economy of defense spending advanced and shaped the field, and his more recent investigations of higher-order dependencies in international conflict data have continued to press the field to pay more attention to dynamics and (inter)dependence, temporal and spatial. Furthermore, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he introduced IR scholars to non-constant parameters and sliding-window regression. Mike has also been a pioneer in the graphical display of data, including having produced two films displaying change over time in the international system (one using COPDAB data, the other using Polity). He has recently developed a new way of visualizing the predictive performance of binary classifiers: the separation plot. Mike’s work and focus on out-of-sample forecasts and performance as alternatives standards to hypothesis-test significance or experimental-result retrieval has also been very much needed and critically important to empirical social-science. Mike’s most-influential line of work was his sustained exploration of observational (inter)dependence. Whereas most other political methodologists and econometricians have made important contributions by devising clever corrections for this “nuisance,” Mike always (rightly) recognized and emphasized that this dependence among observations, especially nations in the international relations and comparative politics of his substantive focuses, is a fundamental feature of the social world, one that should be explored and modeled directly. Mike has continued to develop and apply the next generation of spatial-statistical and dynamic network models for capturing the inherent dependence among nations (and social actors more generally).