Rennes Day 4: It is becoming practical

With a full agenda ahead, but with no specific duties during the day other than enjoying presentations and intellectual discussions, I woke up rather optimistically. Obviously, this is another way of writing that it was going to be a rather straightforward day. But do not be fooled: it is not a different way of writing that is would be a boring day.

Again, I had breakfast with one of the other workshop participants, who resided in the same hotel as I do. On the way to the workshop location, we were able to pick up another participant. The weather appeared to be especially nice today, so the walk to the university of Rennes was especially nice. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to visit `Jardin de Thabor’ again, which almost lies on the route.

The papers that would be discussed today were of a more practical nature than during the previous day. This clearly corresponds to the program made by the organizers: starting with the broad, epistemological issues and ending with papers making more practical, concrete methodological suggestions. The first paper this morning made suggestions of using residual analysis in large-N regression to specifically select cases for further case-analyses. The second one was on trends in political discourse and the methodological implications of those trends. Thirdly, the possible applications of sequence analysis, a technique coming from biological analyses, in political sciences were discussed.

Lunch was served in the same university restaurant again. Although I must admit that the French have a high level of cuisine, it didn’t show this time. We went for a quick coffee in a bar afterwards and then raced back again for three more papers. This afternoon we discussed what I think of as one of the most interesting papers of the conference. Coming from a positivistic, quantitative background, the author decided during her PhD that she needed to perform a discursive analysis on the available literature. Doing so, she found out that the literature failed to recognize a certain conceptual distinction. She was also able to test this using an elaborated SEM-model. I think that she presented an excellent example of the possibility to combine two completely different perspectives. The second and third papers resembled each other to some extent, evaluating the usage of multiple research methods in comparative political research. They nicely complemented each other nicely, although I had a preference for one of the papers: it had both a somewhat more broader scope and it developed criteria for developing multi method research as well.

I went to my hotel to lie down for a while (still the throat-issues), before all workshop participants met in a restaurant to have a nice dinner. I sat near some people I didn’t have the chance to talk to yet, so that was nice. Enjoying crêpes once more, we talked about migration, the answers to be found in the number `42′, novels about research and science (there appear to exist a lot!), and many more. It was a really enjoyable evening and we ended up again in yet another bar, only this time it was only for a single drink. After that, I headed back to my hotel and fell asleep quickly. Again, a day well done …

(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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