Overview of Training Programs

Graduate Level Courses 

CONSIRT furthers the educational goals of its partner institutions and the scientific goals of academic and professional communities by training students at all levels in how to turn their ideas into manageable research projects. With a strong emphasis on the ethics of scientific research, CONSIRT encourages students to creatively use their personal experiences and school-learned knowledge in building the next generation of scientists. To this end, it has developed the courses Research Methodology and Methods of Social Inquiry, From Idea to Research and Publishing in the Social Sciences, both offered at GSSR. The Methods course focuses on the logic of social science research and on practical problems of applying quantitative and qualitative methods in the process of testing hypotheses, including interpretation of data. The “From Idea to…” course is about the professionalization of academics and walks students through the process of turning ideas into social science research and into various academic products.

Workshops and Seminars

Since 2008, CONSIRT has organized numerous international workshops for young scholars, graduate students, and undergraduate students. For each event, CONSIRT secured funding to ensure that student participation is free of charge, and to cover some of students’ expenses with travel, accommodation and/or meals.

The workshop, “Harmonization of Survey and Non-Survey Data,” was held December 17 – 18, 2015. This workshop was devoted to issues of ex-post harmonization of survey data in the context of the Harmonization and Survey Data Recycling projects. The first day of the workshop focused on harmonization of longitudinal international survey projects. We will discuss the concept of survey data recycling (SDR) as a new way of reprocessing information from extant cross-national projects in ways that minimize the “messiness” of data built into original surveys, that expand the range of possible comparisons over time and across countries, and that improve confidence in substantive results. The workshop highlighted various steps of SDR via examples of substantive target variables that we created using information from well-known international survey projects (e.g. WVS, ISSP, ESS, various regional barometers). For more information about the project, see CONSIRT’s Harmonization: Newsletter on Survey Data Harmonization in the Social Sciences. Kazimierz M. Slomczynski and Irina Tomescu-Dubrow started the session with an overview of the Harmonization Project. Afterwards were two Round-table Discussions. The topic of the first was, “Presenting, Storing and Accessing Information on Source Variables.” The topic of the second was, “Quality of Data and Harmonization Processes.” The discussion leaders for both round-tables are Dean Lillard, The Ohio State University, USA, Christof Wolf, GESIS, Peter Granda, University of Michigan and ICPSR, USA, Mitchell Seligson, LAPOP, Vanderbilt University, USA and Markus Quandt, GESIS.

The second day of the workshop discussed the possibilities of harmonizing longitudinal survey data with the East European Parliamentarian and Candidate data (EAST PaC), with a focus on women’s political inequality. EAST PaC consists of all candidates who stood for national parliamentary elections in Poland, Hungary and Ukraine from the 1990s to the 2010s. Candidates are matched over time; this renders a dataset that allows researchers to track the political careers of every candidate, from the thousands who never won to the few political lifers whose parliamentary careers span decades. Joshua K. Dubrow presented an overview of the Electoral Control project and the uses of EAST PaC data. We discussed opportunities of using these data in POLPAN and other surveys.

We then engaged in an extended discussion on improving our knowledge, via survey data and non-survey data sources, on gender and values worldwide. The leaders of this discussion were Amy C. Alexander, Quality of Government Institute SwedenCatherine Bolzendahl, University of California-Irvine USA, and Tiffany Barnes, University of Kentucky, USA.

As part of the Harmonization Project, the workshop Comparability of Survey Data on Political Behavior: Ex-Post Harmonization of Selected Survey Projects (Columbus, May 8-9, 2014), held at the OSU Department of Sociology, focused on key methodological and statistical issues in comparability of survey data in the context of harmonization. Discussions benefited from expert insights of established scholars, including those of Prof. Dean Lillard, Department of Human Sciences, OSU. Select graduate students from the Graduate School for Social Research (GSSR) at PAN and from departments across OSU attended the workshop.

The Polish Panel Survey 1988-2013 Workshop (March 20, 2014, Warsaw) aimed to (a) familiarize researchers with the new POLPAN data, focusing on the 2013 subsamples and the relevant filters and weights that they call for, and (b) to generate ideas that could be turned into manageable and publishable research products. Select graduate students from OSU, GSSR and other universities in Europe, as well as European and American scholars, including Prof. Sheri Kunovich, South Methodist University, Texas, and OSU alumna, participated in the workshop.

As part of the Electoral Control in Eastern Europe project, Parliamentarians, Candidates and Elections in Eastern Europe: From Theory to Empirical Research (March 18, 2014, Warsaw), forms, together with its prequel, Winners and Losers in the Elections of Eastern Europe (October 18-19, 2013, Warsaw) and its upcoming sequel, Electoral Control in Eastern Europe (December 12-13, 2014, Warsaw) an integrated training package for scholars interested in using the East Europe Parliamentarian and Candidate Database (EAST-PaC data) on parliamentarians, candidates and elections in Poland, Ukraine and Hungary. These data are designed to address critical questions on political and party systems of the region, as well as issues in representation, accountability and political inequality.

The international workshop Survey Data Harmonization (December 18-21, 2013, Warsaw) was organized within the Harmonization Project and (a) familiarized participants with the Harmonization Project, especially with regard to its methodological component; (b) presented the international surveys and the different types of variables – social background characteristics, political protest behavior, attitudinal variables, as well as contextual variables – that the project aims to harmonize; (c) discussed challenges encountered while harmonizing large data sets, and how to solve them. Participants benefitted from the expert insights of OSU Professors Dean Lillard (Department of Human Sciences and Principal investigator of the Cross-National Equivalent File (CNEF) and J. Craig Jenkins (Mershon and Sociology).

The Workshop on Panel Design and Analysis featuring the Polish Panel Survey POLPAN 1988 – 2013, provided intensive two-week training on panel survey design and panel data analysis under an innovative structure. First, training involved international experience and the building of professional networks for both OSU and PAN students. To this end, one segment of the workshop (May 6 – 12, 2013) was held in Warsaw, and the other part (May 20 – 26) in Columbus, Ohio.

In a “my house, your house” arrangement, select students from OSU joined their PAN colleagues in Warsaw for the first week, and select students from the Polish Academy of Sciences rejoined their OSU colleagues in Columbus for the second week. Second, the two-country structure of the POLPAN workshop fostered intensive training in both data collection and analysis. In Poland students learned about the intricacies of designing and collecting longitudinal survey data from experts in methodology who have designed POLPAN and have administered it over the last two decades. During their week at the OSU Department of Sociology, workshop participants used POLPAN to train in quantitative analyses of panel data. In addition, the Columbus workshop devoted a Special Session – open and free of charge to interested faculty and students – to Health and Wellbeing in Dynamic Perspective. Participants discussed substantive and methodological issues that could be addressed with POLPAN.

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POLPAN workshop students present their research proposal in Warsaw, Poland, May 2013

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POLPAN workshop students participate in discussion led by Prof. Slomczynski at OSU (Columbus, Ohio), May 2013

To strengthen interdisciplinary methodology on nationalism and conflict, in December 2012 a select group doctoral students from OSU and from various countries in Europe attended, in Warsaw, the three-day workshop on Multilevel Modeling of Survey Data on Nationalism and Conflict, which directly followed the conference on nationalism and conflict. The combination of conference and workshop allows participants to better link substantive research problems with research tools, in this case multilevel analysis in cross-national studies.

In 2011, in collaboration with the OSU Center for Slavic and East European Studies, which co-funded the event, CONSIRT organized the four-day workshop Health Issues in Public Opinion Survey Research in Central and Eastern Europe. Held on OSU main campus, this event brought together international researchers specializing in Central and Eastern Europe, health, and survey methodology, along with a multidisciplinary mix of OSU graduate and undergraduate students. Substantively, workshop participants studied major social science theories that explain health attitudes and behaviors. Methodologically, the workshop introduced students to common measurement instruments used in the analysis of self-reported physical and mental health. Under the guidance of CONSIRT faculty, students developed their own empirical research projects. Some students are continuing their projects started during the workshop in preparation for submitting publications.

The first workshop, in 2009, focused on methodological issues dealing with Contribution of Area Studies to the Knowledge of Ethnic Tensions. Carefully selected graduate students from OSU and other programs in Europe attended both the preceding conference, and the workshop training on practical issues of multilevel analysis of survey data.

In addition to workshops, since 2009 CONSIRT organizes seminars devoted to data analysis of the Polish Panel Survey, 1988-2013. OSU doctoral students and/or PAN doctoral students, as well as alumni of both institutions, are participating in these meetings.

The OSU Study Abroad Program

To enhance student training through international experience and personalized research, in 2008 CONSIRT established, with the OSU Office for International Affairs, The Ohio State Summer School in the Social Sciences. This Program, run through the OSU Department of Sociology and hosted by IFiS PAN, is for undergraduate and graduate students interested in studying Central and East European (CEE) societies in cross-national and historical contexts (warsawsummerschool.wordpress.com).

So far, the Program has taught 63 OSU students from a variety of departments – Sociology, Political Science, International Studies, Anthropology, Slavic and East European Studies, Pharmacology and Psychology.

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Summer School Students 2014

Undergraduate students earn 12 semester credit hours for (a) SOC 3549: Statistics in Sociology (3 credit hours), (b) its application to studying social and political change in Central and Eastern Europe, subsumed by SOC 4998: Undergraduate Research in Sociology (6 credit hours), and (c) SOC 5503 Social Change in Central and Eastern Europe (3 credit hours). In departments outside of Sociology, the Study Abroad course will be considered as equivalent of other similar courses if pre-approved by the appropriate department.

For graduate students, the Study Abroad course covers (a) training in comparative methods in the social sciences (7850 Sociological Research Methods, 3 credit hours), and (b) its application to research in substantive problems pertaining to social and political change in Central and Eastern Europe, subsumed by the 6999 Research for Thesis, or 8999 Research For Dissertation, 7-12 credit hours, depending on classroom contact hours in consultation sessions.

All students are fully engaged with the research experience: they are required to perform their own analyses on POLPAN data, to document their research in accordance with the data documentation standards of CONSIRT Labs, and write a research paper. The Warsaw Summer School hosts guest lectures by leading international scholars in the social sciences from OSU and Poland. As part of their training, students consult with CONSIRT and IFiS PAN faculty.

The Summer School embraces the uniqueness of OSU Study Abroad by fully integrating students’ personal experiences acquired by living in Eastern Europe with the main topics of study. Field trips in Poland and cultural activities complement classroom work.

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Summer School Students in 2009

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Summer School Students 2013 in Krakow

In 2009, OSU President E. Gordon Gee visited the Warsaw Summer School. He praised it as a unique OSU Study Abroad program that will establish a standard for other programs at OSU. In 2011 the School was visited by William I. Brustein, OSU Vice Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs. He met with students and was impressed by their progress.

Learning-though-Research: Students’ Individualized Research Projects

CONSIRT has made learning-through-research a priority of its teaching strategy. With the guidance of CONSIRT faculty, all undergraduate and graduate students select a research topic of their interest, to which they apply the knowledge that courses, training sessions and seminars impart. CONSIRT offers on-going assistance throughout the project, and encourages students to present their work at national and international meetings, and to submit it for publication considerations. The significant number of presentations that students are giving to academic audiences speaks to the success of this approach.

Mentoring Students’ Applications for Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants

CONSIRT encourages undergraduate and graduate students to pursue fellowships, scholarships, and grants, and provides guiding through the process. Warsaw Summer School students regularly apply to OSU, PAN, and other agencies for funding toward their study abroad.

By working alongside CONSIRT, students have been very successful. In 2014, seven students collectively won over $25,000 in awards, including OSU Undergraduate Research Office (URO) Research Fellowship, OSU SBS Undergraduate Research Award, OSU Arts and Sciences (ASC) Undergraduate Research Scholarship, OSU Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP), OSU Polish Studies Initiative Research Award, and Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) Undergraduate Students Travel Grant.  Between 2011 and 2014, twenty four undergraduate students won awards from various institutions, including the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Institute of International Education, the OSU-OIA Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Mershon Center International Security Study Abroad Scholarship.

In the past, sixteen OSU graduate students associated with the Across Nations Project/CONSIRT received grants for international travel, mainly from the Polish Academy of Sciences. Recently, two Polish graduate students working with CONSIRT, Marta Kołczyńska and Ewa Jarosz, received research grants (each of about $30,000) from the (Polish) National Science Centre.CONSIRT supported GSSR doctoral students Anastas Vangeli and Sanjay Chaudhary in their training/research trips to China and Nepal, respectively.

CONSIRT assists students with their preparation for academic competitions. In September 2014, three Warsaw Summer School students presented their research developed within the Program at the OSU Fall Undergraduate Research Student Poster Forum, and are preparing for the 2015 Denman competition. Warsaw Summer School student Andrea Blinkhorn, OSU Political Science major, won 3rd Place in the Social and Behavioral Sciences category at the 2011 Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, with her presentation of research based on POLPAN data. Megan Hicks, OSU Sociology major and student of the Warsaw Summer School, published her research results from POLPAN in The Journal of Undergraduate Research at Ohio State (Hicks 2011).

Fulbright and Polish Ministry Fellowship winners: In 2014, Peter Tunkis, PhD student at the OSU Department of Political Science has won the FY 2014 U.S. Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) grant, which enables him to spend seven months in Poland, at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology PAN. Ewa Jarosz has won the Fulbright Fellowship competition for studying at a U.S. institution in the academic year 2013-2014. Marta Kołczyńska has received a one-year grant from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education for doing research at the OSU Mershon Center for International Security Studies in the academic year 2013-2014.

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