As a PhD student in sociology with a strong interest in quantitative methods, I was happy to be able to attend a number of masterclasses from the Q-step centre in the past two terms. All in all, I attended five masterclasses as well as the spring camp. I took advantage of the broad range of talks and workshops, covering the topics of agent based modelling, deep leaning, longitudinal data analysis, social network analysis, spatial analysis and data visualisation.
I have enjoyed the class on deep learning the most. Chris provided a solid math background which I appreciated a lot and other classes often lacked. The class was a comprehensive introduction to the topic, it was useful in providing a basic understanding of the significance, the vocabulary and possible applications of deep learning.
The masterclass on longitudinal data analysis was the only two-day class. This enabled us to delve into the background of longitudinal data analysis on the first day, while spending the second one on hands-on applications. While all classes tried to offer both, theory and application, the latter sometimes felt a bit short. This was especially then the case when the classes were working with multiple different data sets and/or multiple software tools. For example, without previous knowledge in spatial data analysis, it was quite difficult to work with all the different software packages that could only be sparsely introduced in the short amount of time.
The spring camp on data visualisation offered a diverse range of keynote speakers and insights into the private industry. It covered the topic of data visualisation mostly based on a point of view of usefulness in the private sector which was an interesting change to the more research-based masterclasses.
All in all, the masterclasses offered great opportunities to learn new skills, broaden my horizon and explore topics of (future) interests. All of the speakers and academics were always open for critical discussion and answering questions, even when they went beyond the scope of the class. While I don't see myself using all of these different methods in my current research project, all of the classes were providing important insights and chances to learn about relevant and emerging research trends. The topics are on the cutting edge of social research and were often able to spark an interest in new methods."