Fall Methods Workshops

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PhD level courses in interpretive research, process-tracing methods, qualitative comparative analysisethnographic methods, qualitative interviewing and structural equation modeling will be offered at this year’s Fall Methods Workshops, hosted by the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University and organised by the Methods Excellence Network (MethodsNET). The courses are designed to bring the methodological aspects of your research project to the next level.

Workshops 17th October to 21st October 2022:

Doing interpretive research workshop

Instructor: Frederic Schaffer, University of Massachusetts Amherst

This five-day interactive workshop provides an opportunity to explore how a heightened attentiveness to the theory and nuts-and-bolts practice of doing interpretivist research can enhance your own work. The workshop focuses on a few elements of interpretivist research that tend to be particularly challenging: understanding and enacting interpretivism’s distinctive ontological and epistemological presuppositions, making interpretivist research intelligible and persuasive to non-interpretivist audiences, working with concepts, casing and comparing, and integrating reflexivity (with special attention to positionality and ethics) into each stage of the research process.

Process-tracing methods

Instructor: Derek Beach, Aarhus University

This hands-on course gives you the methodological tools to refine your use of process-tracing methods in your own substantive research. It will also enable you to embed process-tracing case studies in mixed-methods research design. The course requires that your research project has  theoretical conjectures that can be turned into process theories, and you have ideas about potential empirical observations and have collected some empirical data. Topics include discussing how to distinguish process tracing from other methods; including large-n variance-based methods, but also other small-n case-based methods such as analytical narratives and comparative case studies. This is followed by discussions of how processual theories can be developed and improved, focusing on how to capture the activities and their underlying causal linkages in order to understand how a process works and evidence it empirically. We also discuss how inferences can be made using within-case evidence, and the challenges relating to the evaluation of evidence. We also address questions of case selection, generalization and mixed/multi-methods in the final morning session.

Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)

Instructor: Carsten Q. Schneider, Central European University

This hands-on course gives you the methodological tools to refine your use of set-theoretic methods, in particular Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), in your own substantive research. Beyond the correct implementation of QCA, special focus will be laid on combining QCA with other tools for descriptive and causal inference. The course is designed for participants who are already applying QCA, and want to bring their research to the next level. The course requires active participation.

Workshops 7th November to 11th November 2022:

Ethnographic methods

Instructor: Cai Wilkinson, Deakin University

This five-day intensive workshop offers participants an opportunity to explore ethnographic methods, as well as the practical management of the methodological, logistical and ethical challenges that ethnographic research entails. Designed to bridge the gap between fieldwork theory and practice, the workshop explores five key dimensions of ethnographic methods: ethnography and fieldwork; data generation methods; positionality and reflexivity; ethics and trustworthiness; and ethnographic writing.

The workshop is designed  for participants who are either in the process of using ethnographic methods in their research project or who are considering doing so, and who wish to deepen their understanding of the principles, politics and praxis of qualitative-interpretivist ethnographic research. Broadly following the trajectory of ethnographic research from legwork to fieldwork to deskwork and textwork, via a combination of lectures, readings, discussion and practical activities, the workshop will develop participants’ capacity to utilise ethnographic methods critically, reflexively and ethically. 

Qualitative interviewing

Instructor: Lea Sgier, University of Geneva

This intensive workshop aims to provide participants with a solid basis in qualitative interview for social science research purposes. It is intended for two types of participants: those who are quite new to qualitative interviewing, but have concrete intentions to use interviews in the not-to-distant future; and those who already have some experience with qualitative interviewing and would like to deepen their practical skills as well as their theoretical understanding of interviewing as a research method. Through lectures, readings, discussions centred on the participants’ research and concerns and practical exercises, the participants should gradually develop both a wider and a deeper understanding of interviewing as a method, gaining not only practical skills, but also a better sense of how to adapt standard interviewing advice to their own research.

Structural equation modeling

Instructor: Levi Littvay, Central European University

The workshop is designed to provide scholars an overview of structural equation modeling (SEM). Special attention is given to the translation of theoretical expectations into SEM, the interpretation of results in SEM analyses and the general use and misuse of SEM in the social sciences. While the workshop is predominantly designed to give you the knowledge of SEM we start with a quick introduction of necessary foundations like correlations, covariances, regression and factor analysis and their relevance to structural equation models. Subsequent SEM applications include path models, confirmatory factor analyses and structural equation models including specialized models going beyond SEM basics (as needed for the research applications of participants). Beyond a review and overview of SEM, the workshop is to offer hands-on support for the structural equation models participants plan to run for their own research. The point of the workshop is to workshop these ideas, these models. While it is possible to simply join to learn about SEM, to maximally benefit from the workshop, participants should come with specific data and research applications in mind.

More about the Fall Methods Workshops

The Fall Methods Workshops courses combine discussions of cutting-edge developments within a particular method with detailed feedback and discussion of the methodological aspects of your own research project and those of other participants.

Participation in a workshop will bring you to the next level in your understanding of how to use a method in practice in relation to your research question. The courses are aimed at PhD scholars and junior researchers (post-doc or above) whose research is at a more advanced stage. Class sizes are kept small in the workshops.

In addition to the workshops themselves, there will be several cross-cutting lunch sessions for all participants in which key methods and design issues are debated across different methodological approaches (variance-based, case-based and interpretive). The goal of the cross-cutting sessions are to enable participants to better understand research findings from different traditions, and to communicate findings to scholars working in other traditions. The topics include: foundational assumptions (ontological and epistemological) across different approaches, making inferences, and whether and how generalizations can be made.

Time & venue

Monday 17th October to Friday 21st October 2022 and Monday 7th November to Friday 11th November 2022.

Courses are held at the main campus of Aarhus University, in downtown Aarhus, Denmark.

Courses will take place in-person over five days, Monday to Friday, from 9.00 to 16.30 every day.

Registration deadline

1st October 2022


All courses are taught in English.


  • PhD student or junior faculty in the social sciences
  • A basic user-level familiarity with the method of the course
  • Your research project is at a more advanced stage. This means that you should have at least some empirical material and engaged in some form of analysis of this material.

Course fee

 €750 (including lunch, coffee and tea)


Participants receive 5 ECTS for a course. This includes preparations before the course (readings and pre-course exercises), active participation during the course week, and some form of post-course written exercise.


The event will be held in-person. The event will follow the official COVID policy of Aarhus University. In the event of participants being unable to travel due to Covid, the registration fee will be refunded.


Participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation. Aarhus can be reached by bus, train and airplane (nearest airports are Aarhus, Billund and Aalborg). There are many options for staying in Aarhus, including Airbnb and many hotels and hostels.


The Fall Methods Workshops are organised by the Methods Excellence Network (MethodsNET) and hosted by the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Denmark.