Day 3: Being discussant and having a half day off

Today (sunday), we only had three papers to discuss, and subsequently half a day off. After dragging myself out of bed and having had a couple of coffees, I felt up to it again.

I had breakfast with two other people of my workshop, that slept in the same hotel. This was a nice start of the day, for we were able to discuss the previous day and the papers that were presented (as well as receiving some more credit regarding mine :-) ).

The first presentation was given by what appeared (to me) one of the leading figures in present day political sciences, having recently won the `nobel price’ for political science. Quite an honor to be able to meet him, I think. He argued for the use of `quantitatively predictive logical models’ in social sciences, which I think are based on the way physical sciences build models. His book, detailing this argument, will be out this August. I’m looking forward to and will certainly try to understand it and evaluate to use it in my work.

Secondly, a paper was presented that I has to discuss. It was another meta-analysis of articles published in a specific sub-field of political sciences: Ethics and Integrity of Governance. Although I had made some notes, the presentation appeared to have a different perspective than the paper did (to some extent, of course). So, during the presentation I had to change my notes and write new comments. This was a somewhat stressful undertaking but I managed by referring to this article as a basic statistical one. Although in this way I was able to pose some interesting questions (I think), I’m not sure I addressed al aspects of this paper. I learned from it that the writing of a discussion can be a very difficult task that deserves careful consideration. It was nice to be able to get the discussion going, though.

The last paper was a discursive analysis based on a combined understanding between geographical studies and political electoral studies. Although I must admit that I had difficulties to understand this discursive analysis, I think that the basic attempt of evaluating and investigating the combination of perspectives was based on an interesting premise.

After the three presentations, it was time for lunch. With a small group (about the same people as yesterday) we found a nice little crêperie in the centre of Rennes. It was nice to eat crêpes again: I would not have left France without!

Next, I went to investigate the city Rennes. I set out on my own: sometimes it is really nice to be on your own, and it appeared to me to be especially so in a city unknown to me. I ended up in `Jardin du Thabor’, which is a beautiful garden. The variety of plants and trees there is enormous and they are managed in a great way. I think I’ve been able to take some nice pictures as well, some of which may actually reach the web.

Since my sore throat and (very minor) feverish feeling were playing up again, I decided to go back to my hotel to have some rest. I think I saw the same broadcast on BBC News three times: it sure has something to do with exhaustion or something. Fortunately, the rest helped to feel better, so that afterwards I had dinner with some of the workshop participants, as well as with two other conference attendants. We ended up in a restaurant that served some nice fish dishes.

Back in the hotel, I recollected that I had brought two tv-series on my laptop, so I ended this day by lying on my bed and watching episodes of `Battlestar Gallactica’ and `Dr. Who?’, which were both really nice.

(This is one of my blog-posts on my participation on the ECPR 2008 Rennes Joint Sessions, that were held in Rennes, France. For an overview of all posts, ranging from somewhat personal to outright academic in nature, please visit this page.)

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