Learning Materials

Open source teaching and learning resources for computational social science.


We provide state-of-the art training in a range of different areas in computational social science from ethics to text analysis and mass collaboration. Below you can find archives of all of the videos, slides, code, and teaching exercises used in 2019. These lectures assume a basic, working knowledge of the R language. If you do not yet know R, this resource is a great place to start. If you are a teacher, the source code for all of our teaching materials is available here. Or, check out alternative curricula developed by organizers of SICSS partner sites here that include material in different software languages and for different types of audiences.

Day 1: Introduction and Ethics

1 Introduction to computational social science
1 Why SICSS?
1 Ethics: Principles-based approach
1 Four areas of difficulty: informed consent, informational risk, privacy, and making decisions in the face of uncertainty
1 Introduction to the group exercise

Day 2: Collecting Digital Trace Data

1 What is digital trace data?
1 Strengths and weakness of digital trace data
1 Screen Scraping
1 Application Programming Interfaces
1 Building Apps and Bots for Social Science Research
6 Group exercise

Day 3: Automated Text Analysis

1 History of quantitative text analysis
1 Basic Text Analysis/GREP
1 Dictionary Based Text Analysis
1 Topic Models/Structural Topic Models (Guest Lecture by Brandon Stewart)
1 Text Networks
6 Group exercise

Day 4: Surveys in the Digital Age

1 Survey research in the digital age
1 Computer-administered interviews and wiki surveys
1 Combining surveys and big data
1 Group exercise introduction
6 Group exercise

Day 5: Mass Collaboration

1 Mass collaboration
1 The Fragile Families Challenge
1 Participating in the Fragile Families Challenge Activity

Day 6: Experiments in the Digital Age

1 What, why, and which experiments?
1 Moving Beyond Simple Experiments
1 Four strategies for making experiments happen
1 Zero variable cost data and musiclab

Bonus Lectures by Leaders in the Field:

1 Check out our YouTube channel for bonus lectures by dozens of leaders in the field.