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Indiana University Bloomington

SSRC Workshop in Methods (WIM)

The Workshop in Methods (WIM) was created in 2009 with the mission of providing introductory education and training in sophisticated research methods to graduate students and faculty in the social sciences at Indiana University. Our goal is to supplement statistics and methods courses across the Bloomington campus with topical workshops led by leading methodological scholars from IU and across the United States.

WIM is currently directed by Stephen Benard, working with the WIM advisory committee and the Social Science Research Commons. The initial idea for WIM began with Scott Long, who discussed his vision with Dr. William Alex Pridemore. Pridemore created WIM and directed the series until 2013.

If you would like to receive updates from WIM – including announcements of upcoming presentations and methods-related job announcements – you can join our mailing list by sending an email to

Spring 2016 Upcoming Workshops



Friday, April 29, 2016

Beginning Text Analysis with R

Dr. Tassie Gniady

2:30-4:30pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

R is an open source language for statistical programming and graphics. With libraries oriented towards text mining, and one even called twitteR, using R to analyze social and humanities data has gotten easier than ever. This workshop will introduce some basics of R and guide you through a scaffolded approach to learning R that includes written tutorials, online web apps, dynamic notebooks, and downloadable code. In this session we will generate basic word clouds and cluster dendrograms.​

With undergraduate degrees in Math and English, a PhD in English Literature, and a Masters in Information Science, Tassie just likes to go to school. She is also delighted to be the Cyberinfrastructure for Digital Humanities Manager in Research Technologies at UITS. Her job combines all her varied interests and lets her continue to experiment.

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Spring 2016 Past Workshops


Friday, January 15, 2016

Introduction to Human Subjects and KC IRB at IU

Sara Benken

2-4pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

This workshop will provide an overview of human subjects research and submitting an application through the KC IRB system. Representatives from the IU Human Subjects Office will provide a brief introduction to human subjects research, then focus the remaining time on learning how to navigate the IU IRB process.

Sara Benken is an Associate Director in the IU Human Subjects Office.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Reproducible Results and the Workflow of Data Analysis

Dr. J. Scott Long

2:30-4pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

Many disciplines are paying increasing attention to "reproducible results". This is the idea other scientists should have access to your data so that they can reproduce the results from your published work. Producing reproducible results is critically important and highly dependent on your workflow of data analysis. This workflow encompasses the entire process of scientific research: Planning, documenting, and organizing your work; creating, labeling, naming, and verifying variables; performing and presenting statistical analyses; preserving your work; and (perhaps, most important) producing replicable results. Most of our work in statistics classes focuses on estimating and interpreting models. In most “real world” research projects, these activities involve less than 10% of the total work. Professor Long’s talk is about the other 90% of the work. An efficient workflow saves time, introduces greater reliability into the steps of the analysis, and generates reproducible results.

Dr. Long is Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology and Statistics at Indiana University.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Introducing graphical access to IU's supercomputers with Karst Desktop Beta

Abhinav Thota

2-3:30pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

Supercomputers are designed to use a command line interface and batch processing system. This means users accustomed to modern graphical interfaces must overcome a steep learning curve when switching to supercomputers. Learn how UITS Research Technologies is tackling this problem using a new graphical interface for the Karst supercomputer. Participants will have the opportunity to test the service after the presentation on their laptop/desktop devices.

Abhinav Thota is a Principal Engineer in the Research Technologies division of UITS/PTI. He is part of the Scientific Applications and Performance Tuning (SciAPT) team and helps users efficiently use HPC resources at IU.

If you would like to try Karst Desktop Beta during the workshop and do not already have a Karst account, visit Create Additional Accounts in One.IU to request one before the workshop. Additional information about creating computing accounts at IU is available on the Knowledge Base.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Introduction to Web Scraping with Python

NaLette Brodnax

2-4pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

Web scraping is a method of extracting and restructuring information from web pages. This workshop will introduce basic techniques for web scraping using popular open-source tools. The first part of the workshop will provide an overview of basic HTML elements and Python tools for developing a custom web scraper. The second part will enable participants to practice accessing websites, parsing information, and storing data in a CSV file. This workshop is intended for social scientists who are new to web scraping. No programming experience is required, but basic familiarity with HTML and Python is helpful.

NaLette Brodnax is a data scientist and fourth-year doctoral student in the Joint Public Policy program administered by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Political Science at Indiana University. Her research interests include education policy, policy analysis and program evaluation, and quantitative research methodology. As a graduate assistant for the Center of Excellence for Women in Technology, she is working on a number of projects intended to expose women to technology and to support women using technology in their studies and careers. Prior to entering the doctoral program, NaLette spent nine years in corporate finance roles, managing large data sets and developing financial models for large companies such as Abbott Laboratories and Nokia. She holds a BSBA from The Ohio State University with a concentration in Finance and a Master's in Public Policy from Loyola University Chicago.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Watching Closely: Reflections on the Methods of Direct Observation

Dr. Christena Nippert-Eng

2-4pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

Ethnographers rely on three related activities to conduct research in the field: observation, conversation, and participation. Observing others in their environments and using this data to inform and share conclusions is an essential part of any fieldworker's toolkit. Of these three activities, ethnographers' observational muscles tend to be their weakest.

In this talk, Christena Nippert-Eng offers her own contribution to the strengthening of direct observation research based on her recent book, Watching Closely: A Guide to Ethnographic Observation (Oxford, Nov 2015).  The book includes nine exercises for practicing observational skills, including a preparatory briefing and post-exercise discussion.  A companion website includes sample responses to each exercise from previous students, who practiced by observing Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo gorillas.  

Nippert-Eng hopes to encourage the use of more creative ways of collecting and analyzing data, such as sketching, diagramming, and photography, while helping fieldworkers develop more concrete expectations for the potential uses and meanings of ethnographic data.  The goal is for ethnographers to not only strengthen their core skills, mindset, and creativity, but also to produce research that is more scientifically rigorous and persuasive. 

Workshop attendees will get a sneak peek at Nippert-Eng’s next book as well, Gorillas Up Close (Henry Holt, April 2016).  This is an ethnographic picture book on the daily lives and design needs of captive western lowland gorillas, written for middle grade readers and up.  The book was produced in collaboration with former design, architecture, and social science students from the observation methods course on which Watching Closely is based, in part to demonstrate the potential value of direct observation methods.

Christena Nippert-Eng, Ph.D. is a sociologist and Professor of Informatics.  She joined IUB this year.  Her scholarly interests include cognitive and formal sociology, everyday life, culture, technology, design, ethnography, and the western lowland gorillas of Lincoln Park Zoo. Dr. Nippert-Eng’s work has been featured extensively in the media, including radio, television and newspaper interviews ranging from NPR's "Talk of the Nation" to programs on PBS and MSNBC and stories for the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Working Mother and Fast Company.  She has served as a consultant to a number of companies including HP, Motorola, Gillette, Steelcase, and Hilton Hotels as well as a variety of nonprofits and design consultancies. Professor Nippert-Eng’s published books include Home and Work: Boundary Work in Everyday Life (1996 University of Chicago Press), Islands of Privacy: Concealment and Disclosure in Everyday Life (2010 University of Chicago Press) and Watching Closely:  A Guide to Ethnographic Observation (2015 Oxford University Press). 

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Estimating Treatment Effects using Stata

Dr. David Drukker

2-5pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

This talk reviews treatment-effect estimation with observational data and discusses Stata examples that illustrate syntax and parameter interpretation. After reviewing the potential-outcome framework, the talk discusses estimators for the average treatment effect (ATE) that require exogenous treatment assignment and some estimators that allow for endogenous treatment assignment. The talk also discusses checks for balance, checks for overlap, and some estimators for the ATE from survival-time data. Finally, the talk discusses estimating and interpreting quantile treatments effects.

David M. Drukker (Executive Director of Econometrics) has been with Stata since he finished his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Texas at Austin over 15 years ago. He has developed many Stata commands for analyzing panel data, time-series data, and cross-sectional data. He played a key role in the initial development of Stata MP, helped integrate Mata into Stata, and has helped develop some of Stata’s numerical techniques. David has also published papers on econometric methods and been principal investigator on two large research grants. His current research interests are in causal inference and spatial econometrics.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Programming an estimation command in Stata and Mata

Dr. David Drukker

9am-12pm and 1-5pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

This course shows how to write an estimation command for Stata.  No Stata or Mata programming experience is required, but previous experience does help. The course provides an introduction to basic Stata do-file programming, and proceeds to advanced ado-file programming.  After providing an introduction to Mata, the byte-compiled matrix language that is part of Stata, the course shows how to implement numerical methods for linear and nonlinear statistical methods in Stata/Mata.

Course outline

Part 1 (9am-12pm)

  1. The syntax of Stata estimation commands
  2. Basic Stata programming
  3. Programming an estimation command in Stata

Part 2 (1-5pm)

  1. An introduction to the Mata matrix language
  2. Basic Stata/Mata programming
  3. Using optimize() to implement nonlinear statistical estimators in Stata/Mata programs

David M. Drukker (Executive Director of Econometrics) has been with Stata since he finished his Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Texas at Austin over 15 years ago. He has developed many Stata commands for analyzing panel data, time-series data, and cross-sectional data. He played a key role in the initial development of Stata MP, helped integrate Mata into Stata, and has helped develop some of Stata’s numerical techniques. David has also published papers on econometric methods and been principal investigator on two large research grants. His current research interests are in causal inference and spatial econometrics.

Flyer | Add to my calendar: Part I: iCal (.ics), Google; Part II: iCal (.ics), Google


Friday, April 8, 2016

Introduction to Questionnaire Design

Heather Terhune Marti

2-4pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

A well-designed and tested survey questionnaire is one of the most powerful tools that researchers in education, health, business and public policy, and the social sciences have to obtain accurate and reliable measurements of a wide range of attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and behaviors. In this workshop, I will review ten best practices in questionnaire design that may be used when creating web, mail, telephone and/or face-to-face data collection instruments.

Heather Terhune Marti is a Study Director at the IU Center for Survey Research. She has 20+ years of survey research experience and has directed 75+ research studies for the Center.

Flyer | Add to my calendar: iCal (.ics); Google | Presentation slides



Friday, April 15, 2016

Collecting and Analyzing Social Media Data Using SocialMediaLab

Dr. Robert Ackland

2-5pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

Visit Dr. Ackland's workshop page to prepare for today's workshop

VOSON SocialMediaLab is an R package that provides a suite of tools for collecting and constructing networks from social media data. It provides easy-to-use functions for collecting data across popular platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) and generating different types of networks for analysis.  SocialMediaLab also collects the associated text data from social media platforms (e.g. Tweets, Facebook fan page posts and comments, YouTube video comments).

In this workshop, participants will learn how to collect various types of social media data using SocialMediaLab and generate different types of ‘ready-made’ networks for analysis. Participants will also learn basic network and text analysis using R packages such as igraph and tm.

Assumed knowledge: A basic familiarity of R (or other programming languages) and basic concepts from network and text analysis.

Robert Ackland is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the School of Sociology and the Centre for Social Research and Methods at the Australian National University. His PhD was in economics, focusing on index number theory in the context of cross-country comparisons of income and inequality. Robert has been studying online social and organisational networks since 2002 and his research has been funded by five Australian Research Council grants. His research has appeared in journals such as the Review of Economics and Statistics, Social Networks, Computational Economics, Social Science Computer Review, and the Journal of Social Structure. He leads the Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks Lab which was established in 2005 with the aim of advancing the social science of the Internet by conducting research, developing research tools, and providing research training. Robert established the Social Science of the Internet specialisation in the ANU's Master of Social Research in 2008, and his book Web Social Science: Concepts, Data and Tools for Social Scientists in the Digital Age (SAGE) was published in 2013. He created the VOSON software for hyperlink network construction and analysis, which has been publicly available since 2006 and is used by researchers worldwide.

Flyer | Add to my calendar: iCal (.ics); Google | Workshop website



Friday, April 22, 2016

Qualitative Research for the 21st Century:
Reviewing Purposes and Claims, Data Identification Procedures, and Video-based Interaction Analysis

Dr. Frederick Erickson

2-4:30pm, Social Science Research Commons Grand Hall (Woodburn Hall 200)

This is a workshop in three parts.  First, a brief commentary on the present situation of qualitative social inquiry, emphasizing current tensions around the aims and conduct of such research.   Second,  an interactive exercise in “finding and analyzing data” as an alternative to coding approaches built into commercially produced software packages.  Third, an example of “microethnography of social interaction” in an analysis of a videotaped academic advising interview as manifesting interactional trouble and nondeliberate racism.

Frederick Erickson is George F. Kneller Professor of Anthropology and Education, Emeritus and Professor of Applied Linguistics, Emeritus at UCLA.

Flyer | Add to my calendar: iCal (.ics); Google