June 21 to July 2, 2021 | University of California, Los Angeles | Virtual event


The Summer Institute will bring together people from many fields and backgrounds. In order to use our time together efficiently, there are a number of things that you should do before participating in SICSS-UCLA 2021.

  • Complete the pre-read
  • Complete coding bootcamp (if needed)
  • Watch lecture videos
  • Prepare your computing environment

TAs will host office hours through Slack to support you as you work through these pre-arrival materials.


In order to prepare for SICSS-UCLA 2021, you should read Matt Salganik’s book, Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age (Read online or purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or Princeton University Press). Parts of this book, which is a broad introduction to computational social science, 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.

Coding Boot Camp

The SICSS Boot Camp is an online training program created by Chris Bail to provide you with beginner level skills in coding so that you can follow the more advanced curriculum we teach at SICSS. The videos and materials are designed for complete beginners and are best viewed as a sequence since each video builds upon content introduced in previous tutorials. If you are already familiar with the topics in these videos, you do not need to complete them.

If you would like more practice after completing the Boot Camp videos, some other materials that we can recommend are:

Please note that the majority of the coding work presented at SICSS-UCLA 2021 will employ R. 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. However, we cannot support those languages.

Lecture videos

SICSS-UCLA 2021 will be using a flipped classroom model. Therefore, you should watch videos of lectures before our meetings, and then we will use our time together for discussion and group activities.

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.


SICSS-UCLA 2021 is a virtual event, and we will use Zoom. You can join Zoom meetings using a phone or computer with a microphone and (ideally) a webcam. This article contains some helpful advice on how to set up your device and space to improve your Zoom experience. (Note: though the article recommends external microphones and webcams, we DO NOT recommend or require that you purchase any equipment to participate in SICSS. In our experience, the microphones and webcams built into most modern laptops and phones are perfectly sufficient).


Before participating at SICSS-UCLA 2021, you should have an account in the SICSS 2021 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.


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.

Office hours

The SICSS-Princeton TAs will host weekly office hours in the SICSS 2021 Slack. You can find information about the office hours in the SICSS 2021 Slack channel #pre-office-hours. If you are not able to attend during the regularly scheduled office hours or have any questions about office hours, please contact one of the TAs.

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