6th ECPR Summer School in Methods and Techniques
ECPR was able to create a serious atmosphere for studying and to include as much lessons into a 2-week course as in a semester.
Nadezhda Shilova: ECPR was able to create a serious atmosphere for studying and to include as much lessons into a 2-week course as in a semester. For example, the main course («Experimental methods» by Rebecca Morton, NY University) which I chose was based on the book wrote by her and was a wonderful review and a deep analysis of experimental methods used in economic and political research. Apart from lectures we had computer labs on programming economic experiments in ZTree, we also received homework. At the end of the course everyone could have made a presentation of his or her own project, discuss it and receive comments and additions by Professor Morton.
One of the tasks of ECPR was strengthening the international ties between its participants, and this was entirely fulfilled. The format of classes, additional arrangements as well as group tasks contributed to new acquaintances and to discussions not only of one’s own project but also the projects of other participants. The Ljubljana University provided very well-equipped rooms for the individual work as well. If we wanted we could even go to the gym and swimming pool.
Ljubljana itself turned out to be an unexpectedly wonderful town for me, where medieval times very naturally harmonize with art nouveau and late Renaissance. This is so thanks to the architect Jože Plečnik, the architect who dedicated his whole life to Ljubljana. It is impossible not to fall in love with Ljubljana. The town is wonderful, as well as Slovenia – the green land surrounded by the Alps, with friendly and supportive people. I would like to thank the Laboratory for this opportunity to study at the summer school, which was really great! The School was wonderfully organized. Besides the courses, which were carried out by the leading experts of the announced topics by the way, the organizers offered to participate in different arrangements, excursions and meetings. I was at a real football match for the first time in my life.
Margarita Fabricant: The Summer School organized in Ljubljana by European Consortium for Political Research did not meet all my expectations but only the most optimistic. The questions that I faced in my research project made me choose not a very easy course about the time series method, which I have never used before. Mathematicians I know always scared me with the complexity of differential equations and the necessity of learning the “Stata” software which was unfamiliar for me and to understand the examples from macroeconomics filled me with apprehension. But I decided that it is necessary to use the given opportunity to the full and to grasp the method, which is really essential for me and which it would be difficult to learn by myself.
It turned out that my apprehension was groundless: at one of the classes the teacher mentioned my good mathematical background. Thanks to enthusiasm of the teacher and the motivation (the attendance was almost hundred per cent in spite of good weather) I managed to understand that time series analysis is not only one of the statistical methods but also a specific way of thinking. Time is one of the most complex and vague metaphorical philosophic notions, and to think of it operationally with respect to empirical realities but at the same time not to simplify and not to leave out important things is the task which could be better solved with time series analysis than with any other method I know.
we were taught not only the stereotyped set of operations but also its mathematical apparatus. This enabled me to grasp the sense of the commands performed by the program, but did not give me an opportunity to see the most parts of Ljubljana: it took 3-4 hours to do homework apart from reading materials for the next lecture. Second, the specific application opportunities of time series methods were demonstrated not on simplified examples from all the textbooks but on the examples of leading international journals (from modern classics as well as from published this year). This enabled me to come up with some ideas which ways of using time series analysis could arouse the most interest of international community and which specific way of presentation of the research results complied with modern requirements of prestigious scientific journals. At the same time I was once again convinced by M. Polanyi concept of “tacit knowledge”, which can be transmitted only by interaction.
My main impression of school on the whole is the atmosphere of mutual respect and admission of followers of different methodological orientations. As I supposed the struggles between advocates of quantitative and qualitative methods in the socio-humanistic world are in the past. In the present there is “Unity, Diversity, and Complementarity” as in the name of the school and no way for mutual rejection and disregard. In my opinion, such respect to the colleagues and to the results of their work and sincere desire to understand something new and unusual apart from one’s own methodological preferences refers to the obligatory trait of real scientists.
Besides learning the selected course the Summer school gave me the opportunity to maintain several promising contacts with western European colleagues who work on the problem close to mine. I answered numerous questions about LCSR with pleasure: many people said that there are no projects like ours with director of such level at their universities. World Values Survey was presented as a standard at the introduction lecture. The fact that I am an associate researcher at LCSR obliges and motivates me. Self-education in the conditions of availability of many academic editions opens great opportunities but it only contributes to the development of science, while professional communication in its turn creates it.