Occasional simple-to-follow posts help social scientists understand what coding skills they need to learn and how they should use them. Topics include UNIX, the Terminal, Bash, Homebrew, Python, R, Quandl, web scraping, and much more. I post my seminar and tutorial slides here when appropriate.


  • Applied Statistics for Social Science, R Basics Lecture Notes

  • R is a statistical package that is widely used and can be seen as an alternative to STATA. In comparison to STATA, there are several advantages and disadvantages. First, disadvantages of R. For much of the type of work we have been doing in this class (i.e., crosstabs, regressions, univariate statistics, etc.), STATA is probably easier to use because the pre-packaged commands for these tasks are clear and have detailed output, and the pull-down menus can help users with examples of syntax. In comparison, R is a scripting language that is entirely based on the command line (there is not point-and-click interface out of the box), and the learning curve for R is a bit steeper than for STATA.
  • Methods Workshop, From R to Python

  • It’s not always easy to let go, but in this case the reward far outweighs the risk! The purpose of this session is to introduce the ways in which Python supplants or supplements R in political science research. We will configure Python and Jupyter Notebook on your system, review package management, and collaborate to rewrite a commonly used R script in Python.
  • New Social Sciences PhD Student? Here's Your Hacker Starter Kit

  • The purpose of the starter kit is to install the software that is commonly used in your courses (and, more generally, the profession). It is not to give you a familiarity with those tools---that's what the workshop is for! But I hope that these instructions will get you up and running with the software you need so we use our workshop time together exploring how to use these tools.
  • Essential Hacking for Political and Social Research, Part 2

  • Which languages should a social scientist learn to be a certified hacker? The point that hacking is great aside, there are a few languages the budding social scientist hacker might consider learning. Here are the most popular and powerful tools I would suggest. We will be learning how to use these tools on American Oil Can (check back weekly for the next part of the series).
  • Essential Hacking for Political and Social Research, Part 1

  • Surprise! When I tell folks I study Political Science, they're usually surprised to learn that it is not only a research-oriented profession but a necessarily mathematical one. Although the study of topics in social science cannot always be designed for causal inference or analyzed quantitatively (and that's a beautiful thing), I'd argue that Political Science places an emphasis on numerical analysis that is not well understood even by some who propose to begin the study of it.

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