BIGSSS Methods Center
Chair: Prof. Dr. Klaus Boehnke
Coordinator: Dr. Mandi Larsen
The defining characteristic of the social sciences at the University of Bremen and Constructor University Bremen is theory-oriented empirical research. Following the idea that theory guides the crafting of a research design and choice of methods, the social sciences in Bremen utilize state-of-the-art methods.
A central element of BIGSSS is the Methods Center (MC). Members of the MC have extensively published substantive and methodological work, documenting an emphasis on the inextricable intertwining of theory and methods in social-science research and training. The unique characteristic of the MC is its extensive and comprehensive coverage of methods that reflects the plurality of techniques and approaches in the social sciences. The expertise covered by the members of the MC includes, for example, structural equation modeling, time series analysis, qualitative comparative analysis, and agent-based modeling. A complete list of MC members and their expertise can be found here.
The primary purpose of the MC is to support BIGSSS fellows in acquiring the methodological skills they need for the realization of sophisticated empirical research and their PhD projects in particular. This is achieved in three ways: First, at the very beginning of the program, PhD fellows attend a Preparatory Forum in Social Science Methodology with various methods modules, encouraging them to see their research question under different methodological perspectives and to become familiar with each other’s research interests — a prerequisite for the interdisciplinary work at BIGSSS. Second, the MC organizes local methods training that is tailored to the needs and demand of our fellows and offered by members of the MC. If necessary, we invite external experts to teach such methods courses. Third, members of the MC offer their methods and software expertise on a one-to-one basis in order to address specific issues that our fellows are confronted with in their research.