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March 23, 2011 7:05 PM   Subscribe

As a PhD student, how do you determine if you should go to a summer program? Specific question about data science and quantitative methods within...

Anyone know about summer programs in data science for PhD students?

Which ones are good? Which are a waste of time?

Specifically, does anyone know about the Data Science Summer Institute (http://mias.illinois.edu/DSSI2011)? Is it worth spending the summer in Illinois?

And in general:

What are some good summer programs for social science PhD students - anywhere in the world? What opened your eyes to new techniques and methods?

Feel free to memail if you prefer not to post publicly.
posted by metametababe to Education (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
ICPSR is the best.
posted by k8t at 7:32 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

These things depend on your goals.

If all the methods you need are taught 'for free' during your coursework by qualified professors, why pay for a summer program?

I did ICPSR because I missed a stats class that was only taught every 3 years because of fieldwork. I needed that technique for my dissertation.

My instructor was incredibly famous. My classmates were generally assistant professors 'catching up' and many were going to be teaching that method soon and wanted to see how this superstar taught it.

It was too math-y for me, but I'm glad I did it. If I hadn't been gone for that class, I would have rather taken it over 10 weeks at no cost.

I have pals that have done other ICPSR courses to turn quantitative after grad school. (They don't end up with the same skill set tho.)

Spend your summer working on your thesis and gearing up for what's next if you can.

Tl;dr: don't pay for it unless you have to.
posted by k8t at 7:44 PM on March 23, 2011

Oh _ your advisor should tell you what to do.

If you're never going to be in a situation where you need HLM or latent class analysis, why pay to learn them?

Be sure that the program will teach you methods you need, are viewed positively in your field, make sense for your research...
posted by k8t at 7:47 PM on March 23, 2011

Best answer: Alan Reifman keeps a list of summer stats and methods courses.

I have done one-day pre-conference training sessions before, too. They won't teach you a whole new method, but they are less of an investment and I found the few I've done to be a nice introduction. All of these types of programs are most valuable if you already have data and specific research questions in mind. Much less useful if you just want to acquire a new skill to use at some undefined point in the future.
posted by parkerjackson at 8:25 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Good summer programs recieve external funding to recruit and pay students. If you're paying to attend a summer program, or if they're not paying you, they're doing it wrong. A good program never has problems getting grants. Of course bad programs can get grants too. So funding doesn't necessarily mean good, but no funding is a very bad sign.

Also, spend some time looking at faculty c.v.s. If the faculty working with the program have won awards related to the program, that's a good sign. Especially spend some time digging up info on the program director.
posted by yeolcoatl at 9:54 PM on March 23, 2011

What are some good summer programs for social science PhD students - anywhere in the world?

ICPSR, Essex.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:21 PM on March 23, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone -- DSSI has scholarships, so it's free. It's more a question of spending the time and how valuable it would be.
posted by metametababe at 3:58 AM on March 24, 2011

Response by poster: Also, I have a fairly strong statistical/mathematical background. What I need are more computer science-y/data mining analysis sort of stuff.
posted by metametababe at 3:59 AM on March 24, 2011

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