Last week, the annual Nuffield CESS/Essex Experimental Summer School, hosted by Nuffield CESS, came to a close. Ross Gildea, one of the students on this year’s programme, gives us a summary of this year’s summer school:
The Nuffield CESS/Essex Experimental Summer School provides a rigorous introduction to the key practical and analytical aspects of experimental research in the social sciences. Experiments represent a valuable tool for researchers across many diverse disciplines, and the summer school is an excellent opportunity for participantsto increase their knowledge of this approach and to learn how to harness the potential of experiments in their own work.
The course begins with an overview of the fundamental components of experimental designs, exploring the strengths, limitations, and key assumptions in utilizing this approach to make causal claims regarding social scientific questions. Students then receive training in various aspects of lab, field, and online experiments, including: design, subject recruitment, implementation, data analysis techniques, and programming.
Part of the programme takes place in the CESS lab, providing hands-on experience with the practicalities of undertaking experiments. During the school students also have the facility to present their own ideas for a research project and to get feedback from instructors and fellow participants. In addition, a number of eminent guest speakers share some of theexpert insightsthey have acquired in applying experiments in their research.
At the Nuffield CESS/Essex Summer School the learning is not confined to the lab or classroom, however, and participants benefit from a unique environment which is conducive to knowledge exchange between fellow participants and instructors. Taking place in the beautiful surroundings of one of the world’s leading third-level institutions, Oxford University, the school will prove very useful to anyone wishing to enhance their knowledge of the place of experiments in the social sciences.