June 7 to June 25, 2021 | Université du Québec à Montréal | 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-Montréal 2021.

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

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

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 (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.

The majority of the coding work presented at SICSS-Montréal 2021 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.

Lecture videos

SICSS-Montréal 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. We will soon post a list of packages that we recommend as well.


SICSS-Montréal 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-Montréal 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.

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 Assistants will host weekly office hours in the SICSS 2021 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 or Nima Zahedinameghi, our TAs 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