Innovative Methods and Tools Workshops

Webscraping Workshop in R for Research, Profit, and Fun!

Date: November 30, 2017

Join the SSRMC for a workshop hosted by Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, a 2011 William & Mary graduate and current post-doctoral fellow at the Boston Area Research Initiative. This workshop will cover the process of data-gathering from the web by scraping pages using the free open-source program R. Over the course of the workshop, participants will learn how to scrape online data in tabular, text, and PDF form, as well as how to use R to interface with basic APIs. Within this, the workshop will also cover basics of using regular expressions, Xpath, and Selenium – all within R.

Participants should have a basic knowledge of how to read tabular data into R and have installed R/RStudio on their computers before the workshop. The event will be held in the Swem Learning Center, which is the computer lab on the first floor.


Conducting Social Science Experiments

Date: April 13, 2017

If you are doing or planning to do research in government, international relations, economics, or related fields, stop by the SSRMC’s roundtable discussion on experiments in the social sciences. Members of the discussion group will include Government Professors Marcus Holmes and Jaime Settle, Psychology Professors Christopher Conway and Joanna Schug, and Dr. Burcu Bayram, political science professor at the University of Arkansas. This event is hosted by the WM Social Science Research Methods Center and the Reves Center.


Survey Tools Workshop

Date: Monday, March 14th, 2016

Time: 5:00-7:00pm

Place: Blow 332

Interested in pursuing social science research, but not sure where to start? Come by the SSRMC’s Survey Tools Workshop for more information on how to utilize the tools at your disposal. Professor Marcus Holmes and Professor Jaime Settle from the Government department will be providing an introduction to the software program to which W&M maintains an institutional license, Qualtrics. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the basics of the program ahead of time, and they will demonstrate a variety of its functionalities, including question and response randomization, recording response options, automatic emailing capabilities, basic branching techniques, survey flow, usability, and testing/debugging. They will then address topics related to using Qualtrics as a platform to collect your data, including tips about how to interface with crowd-sourced platforms like Mechanical Turk. 


Marketing Research Skills to Potential Employers

Date: February 22, 2016

Join the SSRMC at the Career Center an informational session on how to best advertise what you have learned while conducting undergraduate social science research to the professional world and how to navigate the research-oriented job search process effectively. We will also be Skyping in recent W&M graduates who can give you first-hand advice about using research in post-graduate life. The session will be held in the Cohen Presentation Room–swipe in at the front desk when you get there, and the assistant at the desk will direct you to the room.


Web Scraping Workshop

Date: Monday, October 19th & Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Time: 3:00-5:00pm

Place: Swem Library

Professor Van der Veen in the Government Department will be teaching a hands-on web scraping workshop next Monday the 19th and Wednesday the 21st from 3 to 5 pm.

Web scraping is the automated gleaning of information from websites. This skills has many different applications in the research world and would make a great addition to any aspiring researcher’s ‘toolbox’ of skills.

Both sessions will meet in Swem Library. The Monday meeting will take place in the Cox Classroom, a brand-new classroom in the Media Center (basement) of Swem. Wednesday’s meeting will be in the Learning Center, located on the first floor, straight back if walking in the main entrance.

Successfully scraping data from the web requires the use of a number of different computer programming packages. In order to web scrape at the workshop please bring your laptop with the required programs (see below) already installed.

Please go to this link and follow the instructions through the entirety of the document to ensure all programs are working before the first workshop. If at any point you struggle to install the programs contact Professor Van der Veen at amvanderveen@wm.edu.


AidData Map-Off GIS Training

AidData will be having a series of trainings on various GIS tools and data sources for all who are interested. These trainings are meant to help students with any level of GIS skills (including no experience at all!) learn the basics of how to start creating maps and doing some spatial analysis.   The signup sheet for trainings is HERE. Space is limited to 20 students per training.   Signups for the first two weeks of training (March 17 – 27) are open now! Later dates will be announced soon. Here’s what’s coming:   Tuesday, March 17 // 5:30-7:30: ArcGIS Online Friday, March 20 // 5:30-7:30: ArcGIS Online Tuesday, March 24 // 5:30-7:30: Esri Storymaps Friday, March 27 // 5:30-7:30: Intro to QGIS   Later trainings (March 30 – April 10) will cover the use of specific datasets including AidData’s geocoded data, IPUMS microcensus data, and more!  

On Saturday, April 11, AidData will hold the Map-Off Competition – a hackathon-style event where you will work in teams to use GIS skills to solve problems and answer questions.   Important Logistics for Training Sessions:  

  •  Read this before attending any training. These geography basics will not be covered in trainings due to time constraints.
  •  Install QGIS on your computer before coming to the QGIS training.
  •  Bring a laptop to all training sessions.
  •  Want to get ahead? No Spring Break plans? Tutorials (including screenshots + data!) are linked in the Resources tab of the signup spreadsheet. Computers in Swem and Morton have ArcGIS desktop installed, and QGIS is open source ( = FREE and anyone can download and use it!)

Need help installing QGIS? Have more GIS questions? Kyle Demaria (kbdemaria@email.wm.edu) will be available Monday morning at the AidData office from 10:00-1:00 and can be available Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:00-6:00 in the Swem Read & Relax area if needed!


SSRMC hosts Psychophysiological Methods in Political Science Workshop

Date: July, 2015

Place: Social Science Research Methods Center

In mid-July, the SSRMC hosted the first ever Psychophysiological Methods in Political Science Workshop. As one of only four active political psychophysiology labs in the country, government professor Jaime Settle’s Social Networks and Political Psychology Lab is breaking new ground in political science research. William & Mary student researchers John Stuart, Zarine Kharazian, and Edward Hernandez welcomed graduate students from Temple University, UN Lincoln, and UC Merced and W&M alumna Taylor Feenstra (currently a grad student at UC San Diego) to the three-day event to share their experiences conducting psychophysiological research and discuss strategies for moving the field forward. Read more here.


R Workshops

The goal of these workshops is to provide sufficient foundation for students in the basics of using R to equip them to explore and learn more on their own. More information can be found here.

Wednesday, October 29th, 4:30-6:00 p.m., Morton Hall 244 Learning R: The Basics (Advanced Registration Required)
Wednesday, November 5th, 4:30-6:00 p.m., Morton Hall 244 Learning R: Basic Data Analysis (Advanced Registration Required)
Wednesday, November 12th, 4:30-6:00 p.m., Morton Hall 244 Learning R: Data Visualization (Advanced Registration Required)

Workshop on Social Network Theory

Date: Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Time: 12:30pm

Place: Morton 37

Bob Huckfeldt, University of California—Davis Professor Huckfeldt is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at University of California-Davis and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He is one of the leading scholars of public opinion, particularly social context and social networks. He will talk with students about the important concepts and ideas that underpin the study of social networks in politics.