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Answers to queries about DSTAIR and its development.

General DSTAIR Queries
What does DSTAIR actually mean?
Can I use DSTAIR?
What should I do if I forget my username and password?
Who is developing DSTAIR?
Who is funding DSTAIR?

Completing the Questionnaire
How do I get started?
How do I change the title for my analysis and display the country that I am considering?
Can I analyze the legitimacy of a certain sphere across many countries?

What does the "Public" column on the "Analysis Setup" page mean?
How can I tell which analysis I am using? How can I select another analysis?
How do I save my answers?
How does the rating system work?
Does the order in which I address the spheres make any difference?
What do all of these icons mean?

Results & Tools
What do these results mean?
All of the tools have been triggered, what gives?

DSTAIR Capabilities
I've heard that DSTAIR used to calculate the effect of the legitimacy of one sphere on that of others, is this still the case?
Can I change the relative importance assigned to a question?


General DSTAIR Queries

What does DSTAIR actually mean?

Literally, DSTAIR stands for "a decision support tool to analyze institutional reform". The name of the tool refers to its intended use as a guide for refromers who wish to strengthen the institutions of governance and society in their country, knowing that some institutions lack the legitimacy required for those reforms to be effective. DSTAIR helps refromers to identify legitimate institutions through which positive developments in governance may be effected.


Can I use DSTAIR?

Access to DSTAIR requires a Username and password. Email us at crajan@tellus.org in order to request access to the system.


What should I do if I forget my username and password?

Simply email us at crajan@tellus.org for a reminder. We will try not to judge you.


Who is developing DSTAIR?

DSTAIR is being developed by researchers at the Tellus Institute, an international non-profit consultancy located in Boston, Massachusetts.


Who is funding DSTAIR?

The project is being funded on a pilot basis by the U.S. State Department Office on Drugs and Crime.

Completing the Questionnaire

How do I get started?

After entering your username and password, you will be logged into the system. Click "Instructions" for detailed instructions on how to use the system. Note that you can begin the questionnaire at any time by selecting it from the tool menu on the left of the screen.


How do I change the title for my analysis and display the country that I am considering?

In the "Analysis Setup" page, you can change the title or country name on any analysis by clicking the title, country name or edit buttons. While the questionnaire does not change when the user changes the country of analysis, this information is still important in order for DSTAIR to compare results with other users for the same country.


Can I analyze the legitimacy of a certain sphere across many countries?

Yes. You can add up to 9 new scenarios via the "Setup Analysis" page, selecting different countries and titles for each. In the Results page, all of your analyses are depicted, such that you can view the comparative legitimacy of certain spheres across each of these countries.


What does the "Public" column on the "Analysis Setup" page mean?

When an "N" is displayed, this indicates that you have not permitted the results of your analyses to be viewed by other users. A "Y" indicates that other users can access the results of your analyses for use in their reports. If you would like to change your privacy preference, please email us at crajan@tellus.org.


How can I tell which analysis I am using? How can I select another analysis?

A banner at the top of the questionnaire screen indicating which analysis you are currently updating. To update another analysis, select it from the drop-down menu in the "Questionnaire" box of the tool menu and click "Go" to execute the switch.


How are my answers saved?

Answers are saved on a rolling basis, such that each time you change screens, all of your answers to that point will be changed. Clicking the "Save Changes" button at the top of the questionnaire page will also save answers, however, this is to merely to reassure users and is not actually necessary to use.

How does the rating system work?

Users assign ratings to questions on a 1-7 scale. A "1" rating is the minimum, while a "7" is a maximum. "N/A" denotes that the user has chosen not to answer this question for some reason; this question will not be considered when assessing the legitimacy of the sphere. Note that most users will score a "1" rather than "N/A" when considering omissions. For instance, if a country's Consitution omits the issue of minority rights entirely, a user will rate this question a "1" rather than "N/A", such that the legitimacy of the sphere will suffer because of this important omission.


Does the order in which I address the spheres make any difference?

No. DSTAIR was designed so that the user could tackle the questionnaire in any sequence, completing the questionnaire at their pace. Also, if the situation on the ground in a country changes, the user is free to return to the analysis and adjust their ratings accordingly.


What do all of these icons mean?

Point to an icon with the cursor and leave it steady. A bubble will appear which explains what the icon denotes. The two non-clickable icons on the left side of the question number banner denote the question importance and type. The two icons on the right of this banner are clickable, and allow the user to access more information and to leave comments.

Type: Included to inform the user whether a question pretains to the meta-rules, rules or exogenous factors which affect the legitimacy of the sphere.

Importance: Low, medium or high importance has been assigned to each question by the developers. Though this feature is not included in the present version, DSTAIR maintains the ability to allow users to change the importance of each question, if they choose. Thus, this may become a clickable option in the future.

Information: When clicked popup help screen will appear which provides the user with guidance in assigning a rating and background information pretaining to the question.

Comments: A popup form where users can enter comments about a question and view those left by others. This can serve as an informative forum for communiques between DSTAIR users and developers.

Results & Tools

What do these results mean?

The "Summary of Legitimacy Scores" presents the ratings you've assigned in the current questionnaire on a 0-1 (normalized) scale. The "Comparison of Legitimacy Scores with All Analyses" provides a summary of these scores for each analysis in your portfolio. Use this box to compare the legitimacy of certain spheres across many countries.


All of the tools have been triggered, what gives?

Either you have not answered any questions or answers have resulted in relatively high legitimacy scores for every sphere. Since DSTAIR allows N/A to count as meeting the minimum threshold legitimacy score for each sphere, a questionnaire which contains no answers other than N/A will trigger all of the tools. If this is case, a note will appear at the top of the screen reminding you that you have not answered any of the questions.
Assigning relatively high ratings for each of the spheres may also trigger all of the tools. This indicates that your selected country enjoys high legitimacy in each of its spheres of governance and society, therefore, all of DSTAIR's tools are likely to be of some use in addressing any lingering corruption problems in the country.

DSTAIR Capabilities

I've heard DSTAIR used to calculate the effect of the legitimacy of one sphere on that of others, is this still the case?

At one time, DSTAIR allowed users to select the "attenuation factor", or the degree to which a given question affected the legitimacy of all other spheres. For the sake of simplicity, this advanced feature has been removed from the current version of the system. However, the capability still exits, and may be reintroduced at a later date for use by more advanced or adventurous analyists.


Can I change the importance assigned to a question?

Not at this time. DSTAIR once allowed users to change importances for each question, but the developers have decided to remove that feature from this version, again, for the sake of simplicity. This option may be reintroduced in the future.


Institution: an established law, custom, usage, practice, organization or other element in the political or social life of the citizenry

Meta-rule: an institution which is necessary for the creation of a sphere of governance or society

Rule: an institution which contributes to the organization and operation of a sphere, often created by players within the sphere itself

Exogenous Factor: an outside force which affects an institution, though the institution has little or no control over its incidence (crime or hurricanes, for example)

Legitimacy Score: the extent to which a institutions within a sphere act within the bounds of acceptable legal and social behavior, both in the perception of the public and the eyes of the law. An imperfect measure developed for DSTAIR of the ability of a set of institutions to contribute to an anti-corruption campaign.

Attenuation: the effect of one institutional arrangement/sphere on other arrangements/spheres. For instance, a Constition is vague and limited will make it difficult for the Media to access information and protect sources, reducing the effectiveness of investigative reporters regardless of their actual skills. This factor is not included in this version of DSTAIR, but it may be reimplemented in the future.


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