University of Cape Town
Summer Institute in Computational Social Science Partner Site

June 17, 2019 - June 28, 2019 | University of Cape Town

Partner location for SICSS organised at Princeton University


A Summer Institute in Computational Social Science will be held at the University of Cape Town from 17-28 June 2019. The purpose of the Summer Institute in Cape Town is to bring together graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty interested in computational social science. The Summer Institute is for both social scientists (broadly conceived) and data scientists (broadly conceived).

The organizer and principal faculty of the Summer Institute in Cape Town is Dr Visseho Adjiwanou. It is supported by the University of Cape Town, Russell Sage Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP).

The instructional program will involve lectures (mostly livestreamed from Princeton University), 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. Since 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 faculty from South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. However, there are no restrictions based on citizenship, country of study, or country of employment. All cost of participations (Ticket, accommodation, meals, registration) fees are all covered.

About twenty five to thirty participants will be accepted. 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 before the Institute.

Application materials should be received by Monday, March 25, 2019.

Applications that are not complete by the deadline may not receive full consideration. We will notify applicants solely through e-mail in mid-March, and will ask participants to confirm their participation very soon thereafter. Inquiries can be sent to cssforafrica@gmail.com

International Union for the Scientific Study of Population logo

Faculty

Vissého Adjiwanou

Vissého Adjiwanou is Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Demography and Quantitative Methods at the University of Cape Town (South Africa), Associate Professor in Sociologie (Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM, Canada). His research interests include maternal and reproductive health, family dynamics, and female employment in sub-Saharan Africa. Vissého is the chair of the Panel on Computational Social Science at the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS).

Image of Tom Moultrie

Tom Moultrie

Tom Moultrie is Professor of demography, and Director of the Centre for Actuarial Research (CARe) at the University of Cape Town. His interests lie in the technical measurement and sociology of fertility in sub-Saharan Africa, and the sociology of demographic measurement. He holds a BBusSc (Actuarial Science) from UCT, a MSc (Development Studies) from the LSE, and a PhD from LSHTM.

Speakers

Matthew Salganik

Matthew Salganik is Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, and he is affiliated with several of Princeton’s interdisciplinary research centers: the Office for Population Research, the Center for Information Technology Policy, the Center for Health and Wellbeing, and the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning. His research interests include social networks and computational social science. He is the author of the forthcoming book Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age.

Chris Bail

Chris Bail is the Douglas and Ellen Lowey Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Duke University and a member of the Interdisciplinary Program on Data Science, the Duke Network Analysis Center, and the Duke Population Research Institute. His research examines how non-profit organiations and other political actors shape social media discourse using large text-based datasets and apps for social science research. He is the author of Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream.

Image of Kyle Finlay

Kyle Finlay

Kyle runs an international data science team for a large market research firm. His team focuses on R&D, including in areas such as networks and NLP. In his spare time, he maintains a blog that applies a computational social science lens to understanding South African politics on social media.

Image of Hussein Suleman

Hussein Suleman

Hussein Suleman is Head of Department and Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Cape Town. Hussein’s main research interests are in digital libraries, ICT4D, African language information retrieval, cultural heritage preservation, Internet technology and educational technology. He has in the past worked extensively on architecture and interoperability issues related to digital library systems, with a growing emphasis on the relationship between low resource conditions and such architectures.

Teaching Assistants

Aldu Cornelissen

Aldu Cornelissen is a lecturer at the Department of Information Science at Stellenbosch University. He co-found the Computational Social Science group at Stellenbosch University, and is a member of the Centre of Artificial Intelligence (CAIR). The group’s research focuses on the impact of social media in society by investigating bot interference during political elections in Sub-Sahara Africa. Aldu specialises in Social Network Analysis, specifically individual and group social cognition.

Emmanuel Olamijuwon

Emmanuel Olamijuwon is a lecturer at the University of Swaziland, and a PhD candidate in demography and population studies (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa). His research adapts computational approaches in assessing the effectiveness of social media-based sexuality education in improving the sexual and reproductive health, knowledge and rights of young adults in Africa. By combining innovative and youth-friendly approaches, he hopes to drive new discussions on the role of digital media in demographic studies. Emmanuel also plays an active role in various interdisciplinary research projects many of which revolve around the social determinants of health, sexual and reproductive health, digital demography as well as the demography of African families. He is the coordinator of the Sexually Healthy and Young [SHY] Adults network (https://shyadult.org/)

Participants

In coming...

Pre-arrival

As we discussed in our call for applications, we have arranged two types of training prior to the event this summer. Some students have more sophisticated coding skills but little exposure to social science; other students have significant exposure to social science but lack strong coding skills.

Coding

The majority of the coding work presented at the 2019 SICSS will employ R. However, you are welcome to employ a language of your choice- such as Python, Julia, or other languages that are commonly used by computational social scientists. If you would like to work in R, we recommend that you complete the following courses within DataCamp, a website that teaches people how to code. Obviously, you only need to complete the classes with material that you would like to learn.

Additional readings will be provided on sub-Saharan Africa perspectives.

If you cannot afford datacamp, check out Chris Bail’s Intro to R slides at http://www.chrisbail.net/p/learn-comp-soc.html, or Charles Lanfear’s course at [https://clanfear.github.io/CSSS508/] or Grolemund and Wickham’s online book [https://r4ds.had.co.nz/].

Reading List

Our institute will bring together people from many fields, and therefore we think that asking you to do some reading before you arrive will help us use our time together more effectively. First, we ask you to read Matt’s book, Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, which is a broad introduction to computational social science. Parts of this book will be review for most of you, but if we all read this book ahead of time, then we can use our time together for more advanced topics.

Also, for students with little or no exposure to sociology, economics, or political science, we have assembled a collection of exemplary papers in the core areas addressed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Neither your work nor the work we develop together at the institute need map neatly onto these categories, but if those with less exposure to social science read these, we will increase the chances of interdisciplinary cross-pollination, which we view as critical to the future of computational social science.

Future of Work

Behavioral Economics

Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration

Social Inequality

Schedule and materials

Sunday June 16, 2019

  • Opening Dinner

Monday June 17, 2019 - Introduction and Ethics

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-10:00 Welcome

  • 10:00-10:45 Introduction to Computational Social Science - Vissého Adjiwanou

  • 10:45-11:00 Coffee Break

  • 11:00-12:00 Sustainable Development Goals and CSS - Vissého Adjiwanou

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-3:00 Guest Speaker and discussion

  • 3:00-3:30 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 3:30-4:00 Introduction to computational social science (livestream from Princeton)

  • 4:00-4:30 Why SICSS? (livestream from Princeton)

  • 4:30-4:45 Coffee Break

  • 4:45-5:30 Ethics: Principles-based approach (livestream from Princeton)

  • 5:30-6:15 Four areas of difficulty: informed consent, informational risk, privacy, and making decisions in the face of uncertainty (livestream from Princeton)

  • 6:15-8:00 Dinner & discussion

Tuesday June 18, 2019 - Collecting Digital Trace Data

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-10:45 Group Exercise on Ethics

  • 10:45-11:00 Coffee Break

  • 11:00-12:00 Group Exercise

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-3:00 and discussion : Kyle Finlay

  • 3:00-3:15 Coffee Break

  • 3:15-3:30 What is digital trace data? (livestream from Princeton)

  • 3:30-3:45 Strengths and weakness of digital trace data (livestream from Princeton)

  • 3:45-4:15 Screen-Scraping (livestream from Princeton)

  • 4:15-4:30 Coffee Break

  • 4:30-5:00 Application Programming Interfaces (livestream from Princeton)

  • 5:00-6:30 Building Apps and Bots for Social Science Research (livestream from Princeton)

  • 6:30-8:00 Dinner & discussion

Wednesday June 19, 2019 - Automated Text Analysis

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-10:45 Group Exercise on Digital Trace Data

  • 10:45-11:00 Coffee Break

  • 11:00-12:00 Group Exercise on Digital Trace Data

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-3:00 Guest Speaker and discussion : Hussein Suleman

  • 3:00-3:15 Coffee Break

  • 3:15-3:30 History of quantitative text analysis (livestream from Princeton)

  • 3:30-3:45 Basic Text Analysis/GREP (livestream from Princeton)

  • 3:45-4:00 Dictionary-Based Text Analysis (livestream from Princeton)

  • 4:00-4:15 Coffee Break

  • 4:15-5:15 Topic models / Structural Topic Models (livestream from Princeton)

  • 5:20-6:30 Text Networks (livestream from Princeton)

  • 6:30-8:00 Dinner & discussion

Thursday June 20, 2019 - Surveys in the Digital Age

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-10:45 Group Exercise on Text Analysis

  • 10:45-11:00 Coffee Break

  • 11:00-12:00 Group Exercise on Text Analysis

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-3:00 Guest Speaker and discussion : TBA

  • 3:00-3:15 Coffee Break

  • 3:15-3:45 Survey research in the digital age (livestream from Princeton)

  • 3:45-4:15 Probability and non-probability sampling (livestream from Princeton)

  • 4:15-4:30 Coffee break

  • 4:30-5:00 Computer-administered interviews ans wiki surveys (livestream from Princeton)

  • 5:00-6:30 Combining surveys and big data (livestream from Princeton)

  • 6:30-8:00 Dinner & discussion

Friday June 21, 2019 - Mass Collaboration

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-10:45 Group Exercise on Surveys

  • 10:45-11:00 Coffee Break

  • 11:00-12:00 Group Exercise on Surveys

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-3:00 Guest Speaker and discussion - Vissého Adjiwanou: Working with the demographic and health survey

  • 3:00-3:15 Coffee Break

  • 3:15-3:30 Mass collaboration (livestream from Princeton)

  • 3:30-3:45 Human computation (livestream from Princeton)

  • 3:45-4:00 Open call (livestream from Princeton)

  • 4:00-4:15 Distributed data collection (livestream from Princeton)

  • 4:30-6:00 Fragile Families Challenge (livestream from princeton)

  • 6:30-8:00 Dinner & discussion

Saturday June 22, 2019 - Experiments

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-10:45 Group Exercise on Mass Collaboration

  • 10:45-11:00 Coffee Break

  • 11:00-12:00 Group Exercise on Mass Collaboration

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-3:00 Guest Speaker and discussion - TBA

  • 3:00-3:15 Coffee Break

  • 3:15 - 3:45 What, why, and which experiments? (livestream from Princeton)

  • 3:45 - 4:15 Moving beyond simple experiments (livestream from Princeton)

  • 4:15 - 4:30 Coffee break

  • 4:30 - 5:15 Four strategies for experiments (livestream from Princeton)

  • 5:15 - 5:45 Zero variable cost data and musiclab (livestream from Princeton)

  • 5:45 - 6:15 3 Rs (livestream from Princeton)

  • 6:30-8:00 Dinner & discussion

Sunday June 23, 2019 - Day off

Monday June 24, 2019 - Work on group projects

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-10:30 Speed-dating and group formation

  • 10:30-12:00 Group project

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-2:00 Flash talks

  • 2:00-2:15 Coffee Break

  • 2:15-6:30 Group project

  • 6:30-8:00 Dinner & discussion

Tuesday June 25, 2019 - Work on group projects

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-12:00 Group project

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-2:00 Flash talks

  • 2:00-2:15 Coffee Break

  • 2:15-6:30 Group project

  • 6:30-8:00 Dinner & discussion

Wednesday June 26, 2019 - Work on group projects

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-12:00 Group project

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-2:00 Flash talks

  • 2:00-2:15 Coffee Break

  • 2:15-6:30 Group project

  • 6:30-8:00 Dinner & discussion

Thursday June 27, 2019 - Work on group projects

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-12:00 Group project

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-2:00 Flash talks

  • 2:00-2:15 Coffee Break

  • 2:15-6:30 Group project

  • 6:30-8:00 Dinner & discussion

Friday June 28, 2019 - Work on group projects

  • 9:00-9:15 Logistics (No livestream)

  • 9:15-12:00 Presentation of group projects

  • 12:00-1:00 Lunch

  • 1:00-2:00 Presentation of group projects

  • 2:00-2:15 Coffee Break

  • 2:15-5:00 Presentation of group projects and conclusion

  • 5:00-8:00 Closing dinner

Saturday June 29, 2019

  • Students depart

Live Stream

#For those unable to attend in person, we will be live-streaming each day from approximately 9:00am to 5:30pm ET. Group exercises and #some of the visiting speaker’s lectures will not be live-streamed. No registrations will be required to watch the livestream. We will #post addition information about the livestream here once it is avaiable.