Summer School in St.Gallen: Very international, full of events and many insights

From the 8th to the 19th of June I attended the Summer School in Empirical Research Methods (SSERM) in St. Gallen. I was one of over 300 students from over 55 nations and I really got a direct impression on these numbers during the two weeks. I meet people from Romania, Iran, Kenia, Slovenia, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Russia, the Czech Republic, the United States, Germany and many more. It was very interesting and inspiring to see and hear the participants’ different perspectives on research, their countries and their lives. The team of organizers did a fantastic job providing many possibilities (barbeques, voucher for the ad hoc bar, excursions) for getting in touch with the different people.
In addition this social experience the two weeks have paid off, too. In the first week I attended a course dealing with moderation and mediation effects in quantitative research. Here I learned I lot about such effects can be explored and which problems can occur while testing for them. Although it was an advanced course the lecturer, Dominique Muller  from the University Grenoble Alps, managed to explain the content in a very plausible and simple way. Hopefully our next research project will provide a possibility for testing these effects.

The second week was all about mixed methods with R. Burke Johnson from the University of South Alabama. This week was very intense because of two reasons. First, Mr. Johnson has very much experience in the field of mixed methods. He is, among other things, the executive director of the Mixed Methods International Research Association and published a huge number of books and articles in this field. Thus, he tried to inspire us for this topic enriching his lessons with many discussions and interactive elements. He also challenged us to think about our own current research project (in my case: the dissertation) and develop a research proposal until the end of the week. This was most challenging for me but with his help and many discussions with the other students I finally up with a pretty precise idea of a possible research design for my thesis.

In a nutshell the two were very intense and eventful, never boring, challenging and I can only recommend to sign up for the Summer School in Empirical Research Methods in 2016!

It would be very interesting for me to hear about our readers’ experiences with Mixed Methods. On the one hand there are many advantages because the different paradigms behind qualitative and quantitative research could complement each other and add new insights to a topic. On the other hand such a design is often very complex and requires a lot of time. Also, the (lack of) acceptance of a Mixed Methods Research Design by research communities who prefer to stick only to one research paradigm could be critical.