Summer School - Linking Theory and Empirical Research 16-26 July 2018, Germany

Publish Date: Feb 12, 2018

Deadline: Mar 31, 2018

Event Dates: from Jul 16, 2018 12:00 to Jul 26, 2018 12:00

Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences – Linking Theory and Empirical Research

The "Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences – Linking Theory and Empirical Research" seeks to promote young researchers by strengthening their methodological understanding in linking theory and empirical research.

What role does theory play in empirical research? The importance of theoretical reflection for the guidance of empirical inquiry and for scientific innovation is widely acknowledged in the social sciences. But how can we systematically describe the dynamic relationship between theory and data? While it is common sense in the social sciences that theory plays a crucial role in shaping our perspectives on and our interpretations of the empirical reality, the concrete application of theories in new research projects is a task which is far from trivial. It involves not only an intimate acquaintance with the diverse theories of relevance for a certain field of study, but it also requires competence and creativity for their adjustment to specific empirical contexts and sensitivity for the methodological implications, theoretical choices and decisions for the analysis of empirical data. A research methodology which links theories and empirical analysis has to take into account these challenges.

“Clearing the underbrush” (Bevir) of research methodology and explicitly tackling the linking of empirical data to the wide range of theories is the main focus of the Berlin Summer School.


The Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences connects to a growing field of study which has developed over the past few years demonstrating a renewed interest in basic theoretical and methodological questions in the social sciences. Newly emerging approaches try to transcend traditional conflicts of social science methodologies by debating the specific methodological criteria and values of different research strategies.

The summer school uses these recent innovative efforts as a starting point for its endeavor to sensitize the participants to the underlying epistemological, ontological and methodological commitments which theoretical perspectives transport into empirical research. By focusing on the link between theory and empirical data it takes up questions concerning the nature of explanation in social sciences, the use and construction of theoretical concepts and their role in the research process, and the respective values of micro and macro perspectives on social reality including the potentials and pitfalls of their combination.

In addition, the summer school aims at applying these reflections to exemplary empirical fields in political science and sociology in order to transfer the general methodological considerations into the concrete research practices of the participants. Thereby, special emphasis is giving to the advancement of the research designs of the current projects of the participants.

The course of the program

The summer school consists of a two-week program with varied teaching and learning formats. While in the first week program will tackle the key methodological challenges that arise in almost all research efforts, the second week is devoted to their consideration within concrete fields of social research. The modules of the first and second week follow a certain didactical course respectively.

Each module of the first week starts with a double lecture reflecting different or complementary methodological positions on the issue under consideration - represented by two international experts in each case who will also briefly comment on each others approach. In the next step participants work on assignments in four smaller groups and discuss the lectures. This is followed by two workshops in two groups with the respective lecturers that focus on the implications for research designs. Here, the lectures and assignments can be discussed with the lecturers more deeply. Each module ends with an offer for short one-to-one consultations with the respective lecturers. Each participant can have at least one consultation within the first week.

The modules of the second week are taking two steps within each thematic group of participants. In the first step the Berlin-based experts give an introduction that relates the considerations of the first week to the respective substantial field of research. In the second, all participants have the opportunity to present and discuss their current research project in depth and to receive feedback and hands-on advice for the methodological challenges arising in their research.

The course is supplemented by the offer of an attractive supportive program containing public events, cultural excursions and social activities.

Week 1

In the first week, all participants go through the following four key modules:

  • Epistemological Foundations of Methodological Paradigms
  • Concepts as Building Blocks of Theories
  • Linking Micro and Macro Perspectives
  • Causation and Explanation in the Social Sciences
  • The first week also include a keynote lecture.

Week 2

In the second week, participants are assigned to four groups that focus on the following thematic areas:

  • External Governance, Interregionalism, and Domestic Change
  • Citizenship, Migration, and Identities
  • Social Struggle and Globalization
  • Democracy at the Crossroads


The summer school will be held both at the BGSS and the WZB.

  • Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS)
  • WZB Berlin Social Science Center


Tuition fees

The costs for the program are partly covered by tuition fees.

The fee for the two-week program is EUR 750 

Living costs (accomodation, food, etc.) during the summer school are not included in the fee. Fees have to be paid by selected candidates before the start of the summer school. Details on due dates will be informed after the selection process.

The Summer School does not provide organized housing for the participants, but will provide information and suggestions on accommodation for the selected candidates.

Application and ECTS Credit Points

The Berlin Summer School is open to about fifty international PhD candidates as well as advanced master students and researchers in their early postdoc phase in political science, sociology or neighboring disciplines.

Upon successful completion of a project presentation addressing a key methodological challenge in one's own work, participants will be granted 6 ECTS credit points.

Who can apply?

The summer school is designed for young researchers who have already begun planning their research projects in detail or are currently working on them.

Selection Criteria

Program team will select the international participants based on academic achievement, potential and motivation as reflected in the application.

In addition, they will seek a balance between the thematic areas covered in week 2, countries of origin, and gender.

How to apply?

Please fill out the application form online (including short CV, motivation statement, and abstract of the research project). After successful submission of the application you should receive an automatic confirmation by email.

The decision of the selection committee will be communicated to the applicants at the end of March.

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below. 

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