Summer Institute on Migration Research Methods (SIMRM)

June 7-15, 2023, University of California, Berkeley

Application Deadline: March 1, 2023

Applicants will be informed about decisions in mid-April.

SIMRM 2023 will focus on interviewing as a migration research methodology. Asking people about their thoughts and lives is one of the most effective and efficient ways to collect data, providing information on self-reported attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Indeed, interviewing is one of the most widespread methods in the social sciences and population studies. Interview data can be collected during experiments and representative population surveys or from semi-structured and in-depth conversations during field research. But asking questions as a research technique is also fraught with methodological, substantive, and ethical challenges. Across different types of interviews, researchers must contend with similar issues of recall bias, incomplete or inaccurate information, socially desirable responses, and attention to how the particular dynamics of collecting data can influence the content and quality of interview data (whether data are collected face-to-face or synchronously by phone or video, or asynchronously via computer, cell phone, or paper-based surveys).

These conundrums become even more challenging when studying immigrants and mobile populations. How do we find people to interview, especially if they are on the move or living in the shadows due to irregular legal status? Even for settled populations, it can be hard to recruit study participants or identify a sampling frame. How can we translate questions, in linguistically and culturally appropriate ways, when doing comparative research across migrant groups or receiving countries?  More fundamentally, how should we formulate useful questions for the study of migration? What are best practices to ask about circular or step-wise migration, about integration and belonging, about exclusion and migrant trauma? Given the advantages and drawbacks of interviewing as a form of data collection, how can we successfully build mixed method and team-based research projects?

These are the sorts of questions that we will tackle in the 2023 Summer Institute on Migration Research Methods. SIMRM will also provide space for broader conversations on building a successful career as a migration researcher through professionalization panels and sharing of in-progress research. Hosted by the UC Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative, SIMRM 2023 will be held at the University of California, Berkeley campus from June 7-15, 2023. The Institute is organized and directed by Irene Bloemraad (UCB) and Jennifer Van Hook (Pennsylvania State University). It is made possible by funding from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Russell Sage Foundation.

The Summer Institute is open to advanced graduate students, early-career researchers in government or not-for-profit research centers, post-docs, and beginning faculty within five years of their PhD or equivalent degree. We anticipate welcoming 22-26 participants. Participants must commit to participating in the entire Summer Institute. In past years, the acceptance rate for SIMRM has been under 15 percent, so we encourage applicants to carefully consider how the themes and goals of SIMRM 2023 speak directly to their current and planned research. SIMRM will cover accommodations, most meals, and provide a modest grant to help to defray travel expenses.

Participation is restricted to Ph.D. students, postdoctoral or early-career researchers, and untenured faculty within 5 years from their Ph.D. who do empirical research on migration. It is open to researchers in the social sciences, professional schools (e.g., Education, Public Policy), or humanities (including digital humanities) who have sufficient training and background to succeed.

The primary recruitment pool is universities, but the Institute welcomes applications from researchers in government or non-profit organizations. There are no restrictions based on citizenship, country of study, or country of employment. Those who might not otherwise be eligible for support under federal funding guidelines will be supported through the generosity of the Russell Sage Foundation.

How to Apply
Applications must be submitted via the RSF online application portal, Fluxx.

  1. Create an account or log in to your existing account. **Allow up to 48 hours for a new account to be approved; please register by February 25, 2023**
  2. Start a new "Summer Institute" application and select “Migration Research Methods.”
  3. Submit the following documents:
  1. a motivation letter explaining your current research, how it relates to the Institute’s 2023 training priorities and how attending the Summer Institute will advance your research;
  2. a research abstract (N.B: this is a brief text on the application, not a document upload);
  3. a 3-5 page CV;
  4. For Ph.D. students only: an (unofficial) grade transcript

Complete applications must be received by March 1, 2023. Organizers will notify applicants solely through e-mail by mid-April and will ask selected applicants to confirm their participation shortly thereafter. 

Inquiries can be sent to the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative at

Technical questions about the application portal (Fluxx) 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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