June 14 to June 27, 2020 | UQAM | Virtual event


In order to use our time together efficiently, there are a number of things that you should do before participating in SICSS-Montreal 2020. Our Teaching Assistant will host office hours through Slack to support you as you work through these pre-arrival materials.


The majority of the coding work presented at the 2020 SICSS will employ R. However, you are welcome to employ a language of your choice- such as Python, Julia, or other languages that are commonly used by computational social scientists. If you would like to work in R, we recommend that you complete the free RStudio Primers, which can be supplemented by the open access book R for Data Science by Garrett Grolemund and Hadley Wickham. RStudio Primers cover 6 topics: The Basics, Working with Data, Visualize Data, Tidy Your Data, Iterate, and Write Functions. If you would like more practice after completing the RStudio Primers, we recommend that you complete the following courses within DataCamp, a website that teaches people how to code:

If you cannot afford datacamp, check out Chris Bail’s Intro to R slides at, or Charles Lanfear’s course at University of Washington Introduction to R for Social Scientists. This course includes videos of lectures, slides, and assignments. You can also check out Code Academy at Learn R or Data Carpentry at R for Social Science.

General readings

Our institute will bring together people from many fields, and therefore we think that asking you to do some reading before you arrive will help us use our time together more effectively. First, we ask you to read Matt’s book, Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, which is a broad introduction to computational social science. Parts of this book will be review for most of you, but if we all read this book ahead of time, then we can use our time together for more advanced topics.

Computing environment

Some of the activities will require coding, and we will support R. You are welcome to use other languages, but we cannot guarantee that we can support them.

Before SICSS you should install a modern, stable-release version of R and RStudio. We will soon post a list of packages that we recommend as well.


  • Slack: Before participating at SICSS-Montreal 2020 you should have an account in the SICSS 2020 Slack workspace. If you have not used Slack before, you should review these getting started materials. Slack can be hard to use at first, but we’ve found that it is the best way to enable everyone to collaborate.

  • GitHub: Many participants at SICSS use GitHub to collaborate. If you do not yet have one, you should create a GitHub account. If you are a student, we recommend that you apply for a GitHub Student Developer Pack.

You may need to create accounts on other platforms as well. If so, we will post that information here.

Reading List

For students with little or no exposure to sociology, economics, or political science, we have assembled a collection of exemplary papers in the core areas addressed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Neither your work nor the work we develop together at the institute need map neatly onto these categories, but if those with less exposure to social science read these, we will increase the chances of interdisciplinary cross-pollination, which we view as critical to the future of computational social science.

Future of Work

  • Granovetter, Mark S. 1973. “The Strength of Weak Ties.” American Journal of Sociology 78(6), pp.1360???80.
  • Kalleberg, Arne L. 2009. “Precarious Work, Insecure Workers - Employment Relations in Transition.” American Sociological Review 74(1),pp.1???22.

Behavioral Economics

  • Thaler, Richard H. 2016. “Behavioral Economics - Past, Present, and Future.” American Economic Review, 106(7), pp.1577-1600.
  • Prelec, Drazen and George Loewenstein. 1998. “The Red and the Black - The Mental Accounting of Savings and Debt” Marketing Science, 17(1), pp.4-28.

Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration

  • Waters, Mary. 1994 “Ethnic and racial identities of second-generation black immigrants in New York City” International Migration Review.
  • Sniderman, Paul et. al. 2004. “Predisposing Factors and Situational Triggers - Exclusionary Reactions to Immigrant Minorities.” American Political Science Review.
  • Bertrand, Marrianne and Sendhil Mullainathan. 2004. “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labour Market Discrimination.” American Economic Review.

Social Inequality

  • Chetty, Raj. 2014. “Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States” Quarterly Journal of Economics 129(4), pp. 1553-1623.
  • David B. Grusky and Manwai C. Ku. 2008. “Gloom, Doom, and Inequality” In Social Stratification - Race Class and Gender.
  • Laureau, Annette. 2002. “Invisible Inequality - Social Class and Childrearing in White and Black Families.” American Sociological Review.

Office hours

Our Teaching Assistant will host weekly office hours in the SICSS 2020 Slack. If you are not able to attend during the regularly scheduled office hours or have any questions about office hours, please contact Robert Djogbenou, our TA at

Host a Location

You can host a partner location of the Summer Institutes of Computational Social Science (SICSS) at your university, company, NGO, or government agency.

Learn More