As part of our remit to promote the use of experimental methods, CESS actively assists students with the design and implementation of their experiments. Our assistance can range from giving students feedback on their experimental design to assisting them with programming their experiments using software such as zTree, oTree, or Qualtrics.

We also would like to invite students to conduct their experiments in Chile and/or India, where our local staff also offer assistance.

Just contact us on cess@nuffield.ox.ac.uk so that we can arrange a meeting with you to discuss your proposed experiment further.

An important part of CESS’s remit is to contribute to training and development in experimental methods. We have a very ambitious set of initiatives in this respect. Our colloquium series is designed as a forum for students to present their initial experimental research ideas and designs to a group of experienced experimentalists. This provides a unique and valuable setting for students to receive very constructive feedback on their experimental projects.

We invite all staff and students interested in presenting a colloquium to contact us on cess@nuffield.ox.ac.uk.

We would also like to invite students to conduct their experiments in Chile and/or India, where we have regional centres. Nuffield CESS can also assist you in conducting your experiments in these countries. Both of our centres are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and staff to conduct lab, lab-in-the-field, online, field, and field text messaging experiments.

The Nuffield CESS’s experimental facilities, located at 3 George Street Mews, can be used both by members and non-members of the University. For any experiments that are conducted within its facilities, CESS will:

  • review and provide feedback on the experiment’s design (the Centre recommends that research designs are presented in advance in a CESS colloquium);
  • manage the process of seeking Ethics Committee approval;
  • support the preparation of the experiment (including staging a pilot); and
  • manage the experiment itself (using the Centre’s subject pool).

It is a condition of using the Centre’s facilities that any research papers presenting experimental results should be made available via the CESS working paper series.

Experiments conducted by CESS are priced on a per session basis. A typical experiment normally entails at least five experimental sessions. The prices vary depending on the status of the researcher:

  • Researchers from CESS-affiliated departments pay £175 per session.
  • Unaffiliated academic researchers pay £480 per session.
  • Unaffiliated researchers pay £748 per session.

None of these prices includes the cost of subject payments, which must be met separately.

Nuffield students who wish to conduct experiments at CESS benefit from a heavily subsidised rate and pay £50 per experimental session. As above, this figure excludes any subject payments, which have to be met separately (and cannot be subsidised by the Centre). The standard rate of payment to subjects is £15 per hour.

On this basis, the subject costs for a typical experiment involving 200 participants, each providing 1½ hours of their time, would be £4,500, and the cost of five experimental sessions (at the Nuffield student rate) would be a further £250.

Funding for Fieldwork and Experiments

  • The scheme is open to all students enrolled in graduate study at Nuffield College; students will be allowed to make up to one application to the scheme per year.
  • Students will normally be expected to cover the costs associated with fieldwork and experiments using their College research allowance in the first instance; when applying for an individual grant, they will be expected to demonstrate why the relevant costs cannot be covered by their research allowance, describing future anticipated commitments as appropriate.
  • Applicants will also be expected to apply for funding from other sources (e.g. from their department).
  • Applications from PGT or PGR students will be accepted, but in every case grants will only be made in respect of activities that are directly related to the student’s research.
  • Applications must be supported by the student’s supervisor.

Nuffield students intending to apply for funding to support experiments at CESS would be expected to follow the standard CESS procedures (including the presentation of their proposed research design in a CESS colloquium), and their applications would be assessed by a panel consisting of the Director of CESS, one of the Centre’s postdoctoral researchers, and the Senior Tutor. For further information about CESS experiments please contact the Senior Tutor or your College Supervisor in the first instance.

Application Deadlines

  • 8 May 2017
  • 3 July 2017

The College retains the right to change these procedures or withdraw this support entirely, at its discretion.

For more information contact us on cess@nuffield.ox.ac.uk.

Oxford students that are not members of Nuffield College will need to follow these steps in order to apply for funding:

  1. Submit a proposal: Please send a two-page proposal detailing your experiment to cess@nuffield.ox.ac.uk. This should include motivation, research question(s), a brief description of your experimental design, and the cost of your experiment. Please also state which centre(s) you would like to undertake your research in (Chile, U.K. or India), which course you are undertaking, and your college affiliation. Bear in mind that CESS can only fund up to £1,000 per student.
  2. Colloquium: Once you submit your proposal, CESS’s internal committee will review your proposed experimental project, and will invite you to present a colloquium at CESS, where you will get feedback from senior experimentalists. You can find more information about our informal colloquia series here.
  3. Decision: After the colloquium, CESS will decide whether they will fund your project. You will be informed of the decision one week after the colloquium.
  4. Registration and Ethical Review: If your project is selected for funding, it will have to be ethically approved by CESS External Ethical Committee. You will be required to submit your application on our ethics platform, as well as  registering your experiment on our registration platform before it takes place.

Previous Students Projects

Title: “Leaving or staying in the EU? A study on the effect of information in the UK’s EU membership referendum”.

Abstract: A momentous event is about to take place in the UK. On 23 June, British voters will decide in a referendum whether the UK should remain part of the European Union or whether it should stand on its own feet. In either case scenario, the vote in the EU membership referendum will have permanent consequences not only for Britain but also for the entire EU. Building on both previous research on referendum campaigns and my recent analysis of the Scottish independence referendum (Morisi, 2016), in this study I intend to explore how voters make decisions in the EU referendum. The focus of investigation is on the effects of information – broadly conceived as the main arguments in favour and against the UK’s EU membership – on voting intentions, attitudes towards the EU, and support for parties.

Title: “Everyday Violence and Identity: An Experimental Study in Lagos, Nigeria”.

Abstract: A relatively new political science literature seeks to understand how exposure to violence affects the social and political behaviour and preferences of individuals To date, this research has largely focused on populations affected by ethnic and civil war, and has demonstrated, among other things, that exposure to violence results in higher rates of political participation, more pro-social behaviour, and altered risk preferences. But what the more banal forms of violence, such as violent robbery? Might “everyday” violence have similarly pronounced effects on social and political behaviour? This project uses experimental and survey methods to assess the effect of everyday violence on social identity and political preferences in Lagos, Nigeria. The CESS presentation will be used to present preliminary results, which indicate that victims of everyday violence may similarly exhibit higher levels of pro-social behavior, including higher levels of out-group trust, lower levels of in-group favoritism, and more openness to out-group political candidates. Moreover, everyday violence victims tend express more democratic preferences compared to non-victims.

Title: “Cognitive Biases and Voting Behaviour: The Negative Relationship Between Campaign Cycle Length and Voter Turnout”.

Abstract: This work offers a behaviouralist explanation of the relationship between campaign cycle length and voter turnout. Using a combination of experimental and large-n analyses, it shows a negative effect of the former on the latter after a certain length. The relationship is due to voters underestimating the differences between candidates when campaign cycles are long. The effect stems from the conservatism bias, which is prevalent in literature on consumer choice, and asserts that when decision makers are faced with a high cognitive burden, they tend to undervalue high value choices and overvalue low value choices. A long campaign cycle provides a higher cognitive burden and activates a voter’s conservatism bias in choosing whether or not to go to the polls, just as it is activated in situations of economic decision-making.

© 2017 - Nuffield Centre for Experimental Social Sciences (CESS)

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