Day 5: Last day of papers

Again, when I woke the weather was really nice: a clear blue sky without being too warm, which would have resulted in melted academics due to the badly ventilated building our workshop was held in. But bad jokes aside, I found out this morning that the hotel offered free take-away coffee, which made the walk to the conference all the more pleasant.

During the morning session we discussed two papers, for one of the authors unfortunately was not able to participate in the conference. The first paper discussed the use of different research methods to investigate the health policy implementation gap. I thought that especially the level of reflection on the combination of methods was high. The second paper introduced a sound research program for a PhD-project, in which residual analyses of quantitative regression would be used to select cases for qualitative case-studies, focused on theory development.

After lunch (same university restaurant, better food today), three papers were on the agenda. The first used a rather large variety of methods to answer different aspects of a larger question. I felt hesitant of accepting the overall conclusion of this paper, since all methods are based on different uncertainties. Based on this, the substantive meaning of the combined findings is completely uncertain as a whole. Reflection on the methodological uncertainty associated with all different methods lacked. The second paper was on the investigation of regional differences, resulting in a discussion on whether or not dummy-variables are needed in such research. The last one focussed on levels of research, basically stressing the importance of especially an atomistic error: the assumed aggregation of individual level characteristics when performing research on an aggregated level as is often the case in political / social science.

Now that all papers were properly discussed, and since it was our last evening in France, we went to a bar (again). The weather still being sunny, we found ourselves on a nice terrace on a typical downtown-Rennes square. We started out the almost the usual group, but soon that group started to grow.

There’s something about the English people and the way they drink: it is as if the pub is going to close in only five minutes. Perhaps they all learned it when indeed the pubs in England closed at the ridiculously early hour of 11:00 pm. I didn’t know either, that the English language was so nice to talk about statistics, while actually sexual innuendo is made. Neither did I know that the English were so good at it: we had a lot of fun as a group. I also learned that one of the main workshop directors turned out to be a remarkably funny man after you throw a few beer in him. What a laughs we had!

It started to become really serious, when tequila was ordered (again by the English person) and when I saw straws sticking out of a carafe of wine. Besides that single shot of tequila, I wisely decided to stick to my normal beers: I wanted to be able to remember what had happened (as you see, I can). I think it was approximately 1 o’clock. Walking to the hotel though, we found out that our favorite route (and only known, at that) through the train station was blocked. So, we had to find another way, witch worked out well in the end. In the meanwhile we were evaluating the nice and bad papers we’d seen. By that time however, I had completely deconstructed my voice, which wasn’t that strong to start with all together.

One lesson learned today: the English people can think and drink, but I come along just fine

(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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