Summer Institute in Computational Social Science Partner Site

June 17, 2018 - June 30, 2018

Partner location for SICSS organised at Duke University

The purpose of the Summer Institute is to bring together graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and beginning faculty interested in computational social science. The Summer Institute is for both social scientists (broadly conceived) and data scientists (broadly conceived).

The instructional program will involve lectures, group problem sets, and participant-led research projects. There will also be outside speakers who conduct computational social science research in academia, industry, and government. Topics covered 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.

The Helsinki Satellite of Summer Institute is organized by Matti Nelimarkka. It is supported by Aalto University, University of Helsinki, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT and Rajapinta ry. The Helsinki Satellite is organized with the support of Summer Institute organised at Duke. We will have both streamed and locally produced content for your participants.

The course is free for participants; we are still figuring if we have the ability to support meals & lodging. Students may receive ECTS credits for successfully participating this course (including summer institute, project work and pre-arrival tasks). Students at University of Helsinki will directly receive credits, while students from other universities receive a certificate.

Application materials should be received by Monday, April 16th, 2018

We have answered some questions in the Frequently asked questions page. If these are unclear, kindly send your inquiries to

Local organizers

Matti Nelimarkka

Matti Nelimarkka is a postdoc at the Department of Computer Science, Aalto University and instructor at the Faculty of Social Science, University of Helsinki. His research examines the intersections of political science and data science as well as political science and human-computer interaction. His current work focuses on racism in hybrid media systems, circulation of news, political polarization, agendas in political communication, power of algorithmic systems and politics in human-computer interaction.

Teaching Assistants

Juho Pääkkönen

Juho Pääkkönen is a doctoral student in Science and Technology studies and a computer science major student at the University of Helsinki. His work focuses understanding epistemologies of big data and objectivity claims in computational data analysis. He has also been involved in the analysis of racism discourse in Finnish media and social media.

Pihla Toivanen

Pihla Toivanen is a student in Master’s programme in Data Science, University of Helsinki. Her work currently focuses on understanding media ecologies in Finland and internationally. She has also been employed as software developer at Futurice and Nokia Corporation.


Not yet selected ;)

Schedule and materials

Monday June 18, 2018 - Introduction and Ethics

  • 11:30 Lunch

  • 12:30-13:00 Logistics

  • 13:00-13:45 Introductions

  • 14:00-15:00 Ethics, an European perspective

  • 16:15-16:30 Introduction to computational social science (LS)

  • 16:30-16:45 Why SICSS? (LS)

  • 17:00-18:00 Ethics: Principles-based approach (LS)

  • 18:00-19:00 Four areas of difficulty: informed consent, informational risk, privacy, and making decisions in the face of uncertainty (LS)

  • 19:00 Dinner

Tuesday June 19, 2018 - Collecting Digital Trace Data

  • 9:00-10:30 Guest Speaker (VS)

  • 10:30-11:00 Guest Speaker (discussion)

  • 11:00-11:30 What is digital trace data? and Strengths and weakness of digital trace data

  • 11:30 Lunch

  • 12:30-13:00 Screen-Scraping

  • 13:00-14:00 Application Programming Interfaces

  • 14:00-14:30 Apps for Social Science Research

  • 14:30-15:30 Break

  • 15:30-18:30 Group exercise (ethics & data collection)

Wednesday June 20, 2018 - Automated text analysis (Schedule and content tentative)

  • 9:00-10:30 Guest Speaker (VS)

  • 10:30-11:00 Guest Speaker (discussion)

  • 9:00-9:15 History of quantitative text analysis

  • 9:15-9:30 Strengths and weakenesses of quantitative text analysis

  • 9:30-9:45 Basic Text Analysis/GREP

  • 9:45-10:00 Dictionary-Based Text Analysis

  • 10:00-10:15 Break

  • 10:15-11:00 Topic models and Beyond

  • 11:00-12:00 Ngram Networks

Thursday June 21, 2018 - Surveys

  • 9:00-10:30 Guest Speaker (VS)

  • 10:30-11:00 Guest Speaker (discussion)

  • 11:00-16:00 Group work (Automated text analysis)

  • 16:00-16:15 Welcome and schedule (LS)

  • 16:15-16:30 Survey research in the digital age (LS)

  • 16:30-17:00 Probability and non-probability sampling (LS)

  • 17:00-17:15 Break

  • 17:45-18:00 Combining surveys and big data (LS)

  • 18:00 Dinner

Friday June 22, 2018 - Mass Collaboration

  • 9:00-10:30 Guest Speaker (VS)

  • 10:30-11:00 Guest Speaker (discussion)

  • 11:00-16:00 Group work (Surveys)

  • 16:00-16:10 Welcome and schedule (LS)

  • 16:10-16:30 Mass collaboration (LS)

  • 16:30-16:40 Human computation (LS)

  • 16:40-16:50 Open call (LS)

  • 16:50-17:00 Distributed data collection (LS)

  • 17:00-17:15 Design advice (LS)

  • 17:30 Dinner

Saturday June 23, 2018 - Experiments (Tentative schedule)

  • 9:00-10:30 Guest Speaker (VS)

  • 10:30-11:00 Guest Speaker (discussion)

  • 11:00-16:00 Group work (Mass Collaboration)

  • 16:00 - 16:15 Welcome and schedule (LS)

  • 16:15 - 16:45 What, why, and which experiments? (LS)

  • 16:45 - 17:15 Moving beyond simple experiments (LS)

  • 17:15 - 17:30 Coffee break

  • 17:30 - 18:15 Four strategies for experiments (LS)

  • 18:15 - 18:45 Zero variable cost data and musiclab (LS)

  • 18:45 - 19:15 3 Rs (LS)

Sunday June 24, 2018 - Alternative midsummer festival party

Monday June 25, 2018 - Work on projects

Tuesday June 26, 2018 - Work on projects

Wednesday June 27, 2018 - Work on projects

Thursday June 28, 2018 - Work on projects

Friday June 29, 2018 - Present final projects

  • Closing dinner

Saturday June 30, 2018

  • Students depart