A jury consisting of Brett Ashley Leeds (Rice University), Ola Listhaug (Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology) and Ron P Smith (Birkbeck College) has awarded the fifth Journal of Peace Research Article of the Year Award to Michael DWard (Duke University), Brian D Greenhill (University of Washington) & Kristin M Bakke (University College London). In its assessment of all research articles published in volume 47 of JPR, the jury paid attention to theoretical rigour, methodological sophistication and substantive relevance. According to the jury, the prize-winning article, ‘The perils of policy by p-value: Predicting civil conflict’, Journal of Peace Research 47(4): 363–375, is methodologically innovative and has substantive policy importance in making us aware of the limitations to our knowledge about the onset of civil conflict. The authors argue that too much attention has been paid to finding statistically significant relationships, while too little attention has been paid to finding variables that improve our ability to predict civil wars. To illustrate this, they conduct a comparison of the statistical significance and predictive power of the different variables used in two of the most influential models of civil war. To evaluate predictive power, the authors employ a range of statistical techniques, including the ROC curve, which are not widely used in this literature. The authors show a result that some find counter-intuitive: very parsimonious models, which just include simple variables like GDP per capita and population, better predict the onset of conflict out-of-sample than more elaborate models that include extra significant variables.

The award is USD 1,000.
Honourable mention goes to the runners-up:

David E Cunningham, Blocking resolution: How external states can prolong civil wars, Journal of Peace Research 47(2): 115–127.

Reed M Wood, Rebel capability and strategic violence against civilians, Journal of Peace Research 47(5): 601–614.