by Sayumi Miyano
This summer I had the fortune to attend ICPSR Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research, thanks to the financial support from FUTI scholarship.
ICPSR (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research) is one of the most well-known organizations for data archives in social science, the University of Tokyo being one of its members. Headquartered in University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, ICPSR has a long history of offering a summer program in quantitative methods for graduate students and young researchers in the field of social science. Some students refer to them as “math camp” or “stats camp”. Having heard about the program since when I was an undergraduate, I was interested in attending the program and study statistical methods in a way designed for social science research, as well as getting to know fellow graduate students abroad and academia outside of Japan.
The majority of the students seemed to come from political science, which was fortunate as it is also my field of study, but there were also quite a few participants from other fields such as public policy, sociology, public health and education. Students came from across the globe as well as the United States. They also came from different stages in their studies, some just starting their master degrees like me, while others almost finishing their PhD. These varieties created a very stimulating environment in the summer program both inside and outside of the classroom. In class, students raised examples from variety of areas, which gave me better understanding of how each methods can be used in actual research. I also met many inspiring people who are each passionate about their research and gave me a lot of great advice in pursuing graduate degrees.
Among variety of courses that ICPSR offers, I took two workshops, one on regression and the other on categorical data analysis, each 2 hours a day for 4 full weeks. The class size was relatively large with perhaps more than 50 students, but there were enough opportunities to get to know professors and students in class. The workshops were well organized and quite helpful, as they were taught by very experienced lecturers in summer school, and focused on social science research. There were also multiple short lectures that students could take based on their needs, such as those on matrix algebra or introduction to major statistical packages like STATA and SPSS. In addition I attended lecture events that were offered by different lecturers each night, with topics ranging from how to deal with missing data to how to get published in academic journals, featuring editors of top journals in political science. Although I took relatively basic courses for workshops, which in fact I found to be quite useful, these additional lectures provided a good balance as I could also have some exposure to advanced methods.
In terms of social activities, there were two picnic events arranged by ICPSR on weekends. These were great opportunities to get to know more people and professors outside of my class. There were also unofficial meetups where students from similar field gather and discuss their studies.
Overall I gained more than I had expected in terms of my study and connection with the people, both of which will definitely contribute to my graduate studies. I am very grateful for this opportunity and would like to thoroughly thank FUTI for making it happen.