Summer Institute in Computational Social Science (June 18 to July 1, 2017)

Deadline: Friday, February 24

From the evening of Sunday, June 18 to the morning of Saturday, July 1,2017, the Russell Sage Foundation will sponsor the first Summer Institute in Computational Social Science, to be held at Princeton University. The purpose of the Summer Institute is to introduce graduate students and beginning faculty in the social and data sciences (broadly conceived) to computational social science—the use of digital-age data sources and methods to conduct social research. The program will highlight issues about access, privacy, and confidentiality that are raised by the emergence of computational data and methods. The institute will also introduce participants to a network of scholars across disciplines with similar interests in these new data and methods. The co-organizers and principal faculty of the Summer Institute are Christopher Bail (Duke University) and Matthew Salganik (Princeton University).

The instructional program will involve lectures, group problem sets, and student-led research projects.  There will also be outside speakers with relevant expertise from academia, industry, and government.  Topics covered will include text as data, website scraping, digital field experiments, non-probability sampling, mass collaboration, and ethics.  There will be ample opportunities for students to discuss their ideas and research with the organizers, other participants, and visiting speakers.  Because we are committed to open and reproducible research, all materials created by faculty and students for the Summer Institute will be released open source.

Participation is restricted to Ph.D. students, postdoctoral researchers, and untenured faculty within 7 years of receiving their Ph.D.  Most participant costs during the workshop, including housing and most meals, will be covered, and most travel expenses will be reimbursed up to a set cap. We expect that about 30-35 participants will be invited.  Participants with less experience with social science research will be expected to complete additional readings in advance of the Institute, and participants with less experience coding will be expected to complete a set of online learning modules on the R programming language.  Students doing this preparatory work will be supported by a teaching assistant who will hold online office hours during the two months before the Institute. Accepted applicants must agree to attend all sessions of the two-week program.

There is no application form or program information beyond what is in this announcement.  To apply, interested applicants must send (i) a curriculum vitae, (ii) a statement (maximum three pages) describing your interest and any current research in computational social science (especially as it relates to RSF research programs in Social Inequality, Behavioral Economics, Future of Work, and Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration), (iii) one writing sample (no more than 35 pages), (iv)  for graduate students, an unofficial course transcript, and (v) for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, two letters of recommendation from faculty advisors.  Letters of recommendation should be as informative as possible about your standing in your program, general ability, research potential, and (if applicable) special interest in computational social science.  All applications must include an e-mail and an alternative means of contact (e.g., phone number).  Send your CV, statement, and writing sample (all collapsed into a single pdf file) to  Ask your recommenders to send their letters to the same email address, with the following subject line: RSF recommendation letter for APPLICANT NAME.

We anticipate a large pool of highly qualified applicants and plan to make final decisions quickly, so applications and letters must be received by the deadline—no extensions will be granted. Complete applications, including letters of recommendation, must be received by Friday, February 24.  We will notify applicants solely through e-mail, by Friday, March 10 and will ask participants to confirm their participation very soon thereafter. Inquiries can be sent to


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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