Research master courses relevant for EMOS experiences of cooperation with Statistics Netherlands

 
Research master courses relevant for EMOS experiences of cooperation with Statistics Netherlands
Research master courses relevant for EMOS
                                            and
         experiences of cooperation with Statistics Netherlands

  Contribution to the Workshop on a European Master in Official Statistics
             University of Southampton, June 24th-25th, 2010

Laurence E. Frank, Peter G.M. van der Heijden, Joop J. Hox, Herbert Hoijtink
      (L.E.Frank@uu.nl, P.G.M.vanderHeijden@uu.nl, J.Hox@uu.nl, H.Hoijtink@uu.nl)

                    Department of Methodology and Statistics
                    Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
                                Utrecht University
               http://www.fss.uu.nl/ms, http://www.uu.nl./programmes/ms

Summary
This paper describes the possible contributions of the Department of Methodology and
Statistics of Utrecht University to a European Master in Official Statistics. Five of the six
chairs in our department are directly related to research interests in Official Statistics. A
description of the main research themes of our group is given.
        Our department offers a two-year research master programme Methodology and
Statistics of Behavioural and Social Sciences. A detailed description of the curriculum is
given. Many courses of this program could be of interest to EMOS. We give some
recommendations and describe our collaboration with Statistics Netherlands.
1. Introduction

This paper presents our views on possible contributions to a European Master in Official
Statistics (EMOS). Section 2 describes our recommendations. Section 3 explains our
current collaboration with Statistics Netherlands. Section 4 introduces our department and
the main research themes. Section 5 gives a detailed description of the Research Master
Methodology and Statistics of Behavioural and Social Sciences.

2. Our view on possible contributions to EMOS

The Research Master Methodology and Statistics of Behavioural and Social Sciences (MSBS)
is a two-year English taught programme (120 EC, 1 EC = 28 study hours) that is offered by
the Department of Methodology and Statistics and that is part of the Graduate School of
Social and Behavioural Sciences of Utrecht University. A detailed description of the
programme is given in Section 5.
        The research area of the Department of Methodology and Statistics consists of three
interrelated fields: methodology, statistics and Bayesian statistics. Methodology is
important in the initial phases of a research project. The design of experiments and
surveys, construction of questionnaires, and the development of sampling procedures that
render reliable data, are aspects that many scientists or professionals working with
empirical data may encounter. The data collected in a research project constitute the link
between methodology and statistics. To properly model the data, the data collection
scheme has to be known, and accounted for in the statistical models used to analyse the
data.
        Five of the six chairs in our department are directly related to Official Statistics:
1. Statistics in the Behavioural and Social Sciences (Prof. dr. G. M. van der Heijden):
population size estimation, categorical data analysis, randomized response (sensitive
questions in surveys).
2. Social Science Methodology (Prof. dr. J.J. Hox): data quality in social surveys, survey
nonresponse, interviewer effects, missing data problems, multilevel modelling.
3. Survey Methodology (Prof. dr. E.D. de Leeuw): mixed-mode surveys, nonresponse,
online surveys, interviewing special groups, survey quality, methods of data collection.
4. Business Survey Methodology (Prof. dr. G.J.M.E. Snijkers): methodology, surveys,
business surveys, questionnaire design and pre-testing, nonresponse, contact strategy.
5. Applied Statistics in Prevention (Prof. dr. S. van Buuren): multiple imputation (flexible
Gibbs sampling algorithm for generating imputations in multivariate data: MICE), response
conversion (application of IRT in health surveys to improve comparability of existing health
information, project coordination of European Commission, DG Sanco), statistical aspects of
child growth (worm plot, consultation WHO).

        The MSBS is the only two year research master completely devoted to methodology
and statistics in the behavioural and social sciences in the Netherlands. This implies a
stronger focus than can be achieved at other universities, where occasionally methodology
and statistics is only a track in a much broader master, such as psychology. The focus is on
behavioural and social sciences, but the acquired skills and knowledge are certainly not
limited to the social sciences but are applicable in a wide spectrum of research and
application fields.
        Also, a two-year curriculum provides a stronger backbone for a career in
methodology and statistics than a one-year programme. Compared to the two masters
offered at Southampton University (master of Social Statistics and master Official
Statistics), the MSBS focuses on methodology and statistics relevant for the social and
behavioural sciences in general, with applications

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The MSBS offers two courses on fundamental knowledge (mathematics and
programming skills), two courses on methodology and research designs, three courses on a
broad spectrum of statistical models, and an elective course. The second year of the
program consists of a traineeship and the MSc thesis. Theses and theses topics are either
imbedded in current research in the Department of Methodology and Statistics, or may be
written under the supervision of a of a senior researcher in a external research institute,
such as Statistics Netherlands.
        We believe that many courses of the programme might be of interest for EMOS
students and choices can be tailor made, depending on the needs of the student (a full time
student or a NSI professional). All our courses are one-semester courses (15 weeks) with
one, and sometimes two, weekly meetings. In our possible contribution to EMOS we would
prefer to maintain this format because it offers more possibilities of in-depth learning. Of
course, to avoid costs and travel problems, we would set up technology for long distance
learning, like video conferencing. On this point, much can be learned from the Joint
Program in Survey Methodology (US).
        In addition, especially when more universities would be involved in EMOS, the legal
aspects should be clarified as well as a mutual recognition of the master programmes.
Given the complexity of international collaboration, especially in terms of legal matters
(e.g. problems with visa, housing, joint degrees), we would like to propose the following
model to be discussed during the Workshop on a European Masters in Official Statistics in
Southampton (June 24th - 25th). The model partly solves the problem of housing and it is a
relatively cheap model that allows many universities to participate.
The possible participation model for EMOS could have the following elements:
• Students are registered in the country where they reside and pay tuition fees in the
  country where they reside. (This solves the problem of large differences between college
  fees in the different EU countries.)
• Only accredited courses can be followed (Bologna).
• Students follow part of the courses in the country of residence. General courses like for
  example "sampling" could be offered in every country and it would not be necessary to
  travel for this course.
• Students follow part of the courses abroad, e.g. when a course is on a specialised topic.
  To avoid travel expenses, it is advisable to use technology for long-distance learning.
• Internship and / or master thesis preferably take place abroad.
• Students obtain their diploma in the country of residence (where they are registered) with
  an additional EMOS certificate.
• There is a management board that checks the quality and content of the courses on a
  regular basis. This allows for institutes/universities to recognize the courses given by
  other parties.

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3. Collaboration between Department of Methodology and Statistics and
Statistics Netherlands

The collaboration with Statistics Netherlands has three components: education, research
and statistical consultancy. The research of our department is connected to the
Interuniversity Graduate School of Psychometrics and Sociometrics and the Methodology
Department of Statistics Netherlands also takes part in this network. Statistics Netherlands
funds a chair in Business Survey Methodology (Prof. dr. G.J.M.E. Snijkers).

In the context of the Research Master MSBS, Statistics Netherlands hosts traineeships
combined with master theses. Two recent examples are:
• Incentives for Businesses: an empirical study
• Making use of multiple imputation to analyse heaped data
On a yearly basis Statistics Netherlands awards a prize of 5000 Euro for the best thesis
written by a student from the MSBS.

Statistics Netherlands currently funds 75% of three PhD positions in our department, the
other 25% is supplied by our department. This joint funding reflects the common interest in
research themes in official statistics.
The titles of these projects are:
• Restrictive imputation of incomplete survey data
• Nonresponse and nonresponse bias
• Motivation of respondents in Business surveys
Two completed PhD projects funded by Statistics Netherlands are:
• Analyzing misclassified data: randomized response and post randomization
• Difficult groups in survey research and the development of tailor-made approach
  strategies

During the academic year 2009-2010 Prof. Van der Heijden and a postdoc have been part-
time employed by Statistics Netherlands to help in preparing the census of 2011. They
worked on population size estimation methods that aim to cover those parts of the
population that are not covered by official registers.

In 2000 Statistics Netherlands and our department jointly organized the scientific
conference COMPSTAT. The conference was hosted by Utrecht University.

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4. Introduction and quality of the research group

The Department maintains the research programme “Methodology and Statistics for the
Behavioural and Social Sciences” and is also the core of the Utrecht location of the
Interuniversity Graduate School of Psychometrics and Sociometrics (IOPS), in which
Statistics Netherlands also participates. Thus, core indicators of the quality of the academic
context derive from the QANU Assessment of Research Quality November 2006, and from
an assessment of the IOPS for the KNAW (re-) accreditation procedure in 2004. The QANU
Assessment of Research Quality November 2006 provides a comparative quality
assessment of quantitative programmes in the Netherlands according to the Standard
Evaluation Protocol (SEP) 2003-2009 for public research organisations. The Review
Committee is very positive on the international standing of Dutch research in quantitative
methods in general. The Review Committee also states that “All of the three programmes
are active in the IOPS, a programme that is unique around the world in educating young
researchers in the field of social statistics”.
        Following the SEP protocol, each programme has been assessed on the dimensions
quality, productivity, relevance, and viability, using five-point scales (1=unsatisfactory,…,
5=excellent) for each dimension. The Utrecht programme is the only one that received an
assessment 5 – 4 – 4 – 5. A few comments about the quantitative programme in Utrecht
are: “professors with a good reputation in the field”; “goes beyond the scope of its specific
discipline (psychometrics) by including sociometrics as well”; “about half of their articles
are published in refereed, English-language, top rank journals”; “high visibility and
reputation were gained from giving courses within and outside the Netherlands”; “60%
average external funding underpins the quality of the programme”; “A comparatively high
percentage of PhD students completed their degree”; and, “prospects are rated as
excellent”. The meaning of the assessment 5 – 4 – 4 – 5 is further illustrated by noting that
of the 39 programmes evaluated by the QANU in November 2006, 25 had on average (that
is, the average of the four grades given) a worse score than the quantitative programme in
Utrecht, 7 had the same average score, and 7 had a better average score. Stated
otherwise, the quantitative programme in Utrecht belongs to the 33% best programmes in
psychology. Often the first criterion “Quality” is considered to be the most important
criterion. On this criterion our research programme received the maximum score of 5.
        The Department of Methodology and Statistics in Utrecht University has attracted a
sizeable number of prestigious research grants over the years (see appendix A8 for
details). Since 2003, research grants obtained in NWO schemes with strict selection criteria
and tough competition include 1 VICI (1,250 kEuro), 1 VIDI (600 kEuro), 2 VENI (250
KEuro each), and 1 NWO Open Competition (160 kEuro) grants. Furthermore, a PhD-grant
was obtained from a Utrecht University competition to stimulate the focus area
epidemiology; and, a grant was obtained from the EU-FP6 Generations and Gender
Programme. Finally, Statistics Netherlands has funded 75% of three PhD positions in our
department, and, in the period 2006-2009 over 400,000 Euro, was funded by ministries
and governmental agencies, mostly for research into population size estimation and into
survey research with sensitive questions (using randomized response). It should be noted
that the grants have been obtained by a department that is relatively small in terms of
tenured research staff (over the years approximately three full professors, two associate
professors and six assistant professors). Moreover, each of the principal investigators for
the grants mentioned above is involved in the MSBS programme.
        The quality of the research environment is likewise reflected by board memberships,
including editorial boards of international and national journals and series of monographs
and edited volumes. To name but a few: members of editorial council of the Psychometric
Society and the International Association of Survey Statisticians; members of editorial
boards of the Journal of Official Statistics, Sociological Methods and Research, Statistica
Neerlandica, Methodology and Statistical Modelling; editorial board membership of the
Interdisciplinary Statistics Series published by Chapman and Hall/CRC; and, board
memberships at ZUMA, GESIS and FORS.

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The quality of the research environment for the MSBS programme is also reflected
in the international network of the Utrecht Department Methodology and Statistics and the
IOPS. This includes collaborations with departments and universities of a more structural
nature in the sense that they involve visiting scholarships and also joint publications. To
name a few: the department of Quantitative Psychology of Leuven University (Hamaker
and Hoijtink); the department of Mathematics and Statistics of Lancaster University (van
der Heijden); the Institute of Social Research of the University of Surrey (de Leeuw); the
Psychology Department of the Westfalische Wilhelms Universitat in Muenster (Hoijtink); the
University of Bremen (Hox and de Leeuw); GESIS (Hox); and the Psychology Department
of McGill University (van der Heijden).
        Furthermore, lecturers that teach MSBS are often invited to teach post-graduate
courses both inside and outside the Netherlands, within or without the context of a
conference. This includes courses on population size estimation, time series analysis,
multivariate statistics, Bayesian statistics, multilevel analysis (mixed models), item
response theory, structural equation modelling and repeated measures analysis. Countries
and conferences visited for these courses are: Lithuania; Great Britain, Germany, the USA,
Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, Turkey, Belgium, Austria, the annual meeting of the American
Psychological Association, the survey conferences of the American Statistical Association;
the conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research and, the annual
meeting of the Association for Psychological Science. In addition some of these courses
(Bayesian Statistics, Multilevel Modelling) were included in the curriculum offered by the
Dutch research school (IOPS), in which Statistics Netherlands also takes part.
        Finally, evaluation committees for completed PhD theses may include a member
from abroad and scholars from abroad act as opponents (external examiners) at PhD
defences (in the past few years, Prof. Donald Rubin from Harvard University, Prof.
Böckenholt from McGill University and Tim Cole from UCL Partners Biostatistics Network).
Furthermore, members of our department are asked to be opponents/members of
evaluation committees abroad e.g. Andrej Kveder, University of Ljubljane, 2005, Lilli
Japec, University of Stockholm, 2005, Johanna Laiho, University of Southampton, 2006,
Allison O'Mara, Oxford University, 2008.
        Another indicator for the quality of our research group is the amount of consultation
that we provide within the Utrecht Faculty of Social Sciences and for various other parties
outside the university. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 we gave 431, 431 and 306 hours
consultation, respectively, for PhD students and staff of the Utrecht Faculty of Social
Sciences. Furthermore we were consulted by other parties like for example, the Research
and Documentation Centre (RDC, in Dutch WODC) of the Ministry of Justice; the Welfare
Directory of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Unemployment; CEVO (the bureau of the
Dutch government that coordinates and grades nation wide school examinations); the
Provincial Government of Utrecht; “de dopingautoriteit” (an independent Dutch anti-doping
agency); the Rathenau Institute, and, the Christoph Dornier Stiftung (a German
organisation that, among other things, executes research in the area of clinical
psychology).
        A final indicator for the quality of our research group are the conferences that are
being organized. In 2000 the Compstat Conference was hosted in Utrecht and organized
jointly by Statistics Netherlands (Prof. Bethlehem) and our department (Prof. van der
Heijden). In 2008 the International Workshop on Statistical Modelling was organized by
Prof. van der Heijden and Prof. Eilers. In 2004, 2007 and 2008 Prof. Hoijtink and Dr.
Klugkist organized International Workshops on Bayesian Inference (participation by
invitation only). Since 2007 Prof. Hox and Dr. Maas organized the 7-th International
Amsterdam Multilevel Conference. Before 2007 organizers where Prof. Hox and Prof.
Snijders (University of Groningen). Also workshops are organized where well-known peers
are invited to present their work. In the past Prof. Rubin (Harvard), Prof. Muthen (UCLA)
and Prof. Silvapulle (Monash University) have given workshops.

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5. Research Master Methodology and Statistics of Behavioural and Social
Sciences (MSBS)

Within the Graduate School of Social and Behavioural Sciences of Utrecht University, the
research master’s programme Methodology and Statistics of Behavioural and Social
Sciences (MSBS) is offered by the Department of Methodology and Statistics of Utrecht
University. Visit www.uu.nl/programmes/ms for the website of MSBS. The programme is
connected to the Interuniversity Graduate School of Psychometrics and Sociometrics (IOPS)
an interuniversity collaboration in which the Utrecht Department of Methodology and
Statistics cooperates with corresponding departments at the University of Groningen,
Twente University, Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, Free University Amsterdam,
Tilburg University, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Maastricht University, Radboud
University Nijmegen, the Catholic University of Leuven, the Central Institute for Test
Development (CITO), and Statistics Netherlands.
        The programme is also connected to Statistics Netherlands, TNO and the Center for
Marketing Intelligence and Research (MOA) by means of chairs funded by these
institutions. These professors spend one day a week at our department and, among other
things, contribute to the MSBS. Furthermore on a yearly basis Statistics Netherlands
awards a prize of 5,000 Euro for the best thesis written by a student from the MSBS.
        The IOPS offers a PhD programme in psychometrics, sociometrics, methodology and
statistics that is related to MSBS. For information on the Department of Methodology and
Statistics of Utrecht University visit: http://www.fss.uu.nl/ms. For information on the IOPS
visit: http://www.iops.nl/.
        MSBS is a two-year programme (120 EC, 1 EC = 28 hours of study) and leads to an
MSc degree. MSBS is completely taught in English. The MSBS curriculum is tailor-made for
MSBS students. Specifically, this implies that the curriculum completely avoids what is
known in Dutch as “aanschuifonderwijs”, i.e., MSBS students do not participate in courses
for “regular” one-year academic master’s programmes, let alone in other courses for large
numbers of students. MSBS focuses on preparing students for subsequent PhD training
within the IOPS or elsewhere, while also enabling students to pursue their further career in
positions outside the university sector that require research competences at a high
academic level such as Statistics Netherlands, Central Institute for Test Development
(CITO), Social and Cultural Planning Bureau (SCP) and the Dutch Market Research
Association (MOA).
        The relation between the MSBS programme and the research school IOPS is
consistent with the “Bologna” approach. This means that a separate selection procedure is
in place for the IOPS PhD programme such that MSBS graduation is neither necessary nor
sufficient for admission to an IOPS PhD position. However, MSBS is designed for providing
a pool of promising candidates for the PhD vacancies within the IOPS. Experience shows
that many MSBS students do in fact obtain a PhD position within the IOPS. Of eleven
graduates in 2008 and 2009, 5 obtained a PhD position within the IOPS, another 3 obtained
a PhD position in other PhD programmes, 1 obtained a research related position in a
company, 1 is currently visiting the statistics department of UCLA.

5.1 Underlying research programme of the Department of Methodology and
Statistics

The substantive aims and objectives of the MSBS programme are in line with the research
area of the Department of Methodology and Statistics. The research area consists of three
interrelated fields: methodology, statistics and Bayesian statistics. Current research topics
in methodology are: non-response and missing data in surveys; interviewer effects and
improving data quality in surveys; internet panels; randomized response techniques,
sensitive questions and fraud research; and, qualitative research and mixed methods.
Topics in statistics are: modelling of randomized responses; heterogeneity in the population

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size estimation problem; random effects models like multilevel models, item response
models; structural equation models and random effects time series models; and, optimal
design. Topics in Bayesian statistics are the evaluation of informative hypotheses,
prediction using prior knowledge and inference in random effects models using Bayesian
computational statistics.
        Methodology is important in the initial phases of a research project. The design of
experiments and surveys, construction of questionnaires, and the development of sampling
procedures that render reliable data, are aspects that many behavioural and social
scientists may encounter. The data collected in a research project constitute the link
between methodology and statistics. To properly model the data, the data collection
scheme has to be known, and accounted for in the statistical models used to analyse the
data. Bayesian statistics can be used to incorporate prior knowledge in these statistical
models in order to further specify these models and thus to improve the resulting
inferences. Furthermore, Bayesian statistics provides a toolkit that facilitates the evaluation
of complex statistical models like random effects time series models.
        Both fundamental and applied research is executed in each of the three fields.
Fundamental research furthers knowledge in the field of, for example, statistics. Applied
research renders knowledge that can directly be used by behavioural and social scientists
using methodology and statistics for the evaluation of their research questions. This duality
is clearly visible in the research output from our department. Part of the papers is
published in methodology and statistical journals with no other goal than to further the
knowledge in the respective areas of interest. Part of the papers is published in behavioural
and social sciences journals and is written at a technical level that is accessible for
behavioural and social scientists. The aim of these papers is to further the understanding of
methodology and statistics, and thus, to improve the use of methodology and statistics in
behavioural and social research. Part of the papers is published in collaboration with
behavioural and social scientists. This occurs especially if the methodology or statistics
used are complicated or if special purpose software has to be used or constructed in order
to be able to model the data of the researcher at hand. Another product resulting from the
research of our department are software packages that can be used for analyses that are
relevant for social and behavioural scientists, but that are not available in the commercial
software packages.
       A final product resulting from the research in our department are research reports
written within the framework of contract research that is executed for, for example, the
Research and Documentation Centre (RDC, in Dutch WODC) of the Ministry of Justice, the
Welfare Directory of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Unemployment, CEVO (the bureau of
the Dutch government that coordinates and grades nation wide school examinations), the
Province of Utrecht, and, “de dopingautoriteit” (an independent anti doping agency
operating in the Netherlands).

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5.2 Overview MSBS program (a detailed description of each course is given in
      section 5.5)

                                           First year

                       Semester 1                                Semester 2

                                               MSBS5:
MSBS1:
                                               Categorical data analysis and psychometrics
Advanced survey methodology (7.5 EC)
                                               (7.5 EC)

                                               MSBS6:
MSBS2:
                                               Introduction in multilevel and structural
Multivariate statistics (7.5 EC)
                                               equation modelling (7.5 EC)

MSBS3:                                         MSBS7:

Foundations of statistics (7.5 EC)             Elective course (7.5 EC)

MSBS4:                                         MSBS8:

Statistical programming with R (7.5 EC)        Advanced topics (7.5 EC)

                                          Second year

                       Semester 1                                Semester 2

MSBS9:
                                               MSBS12   	
  
Advanced experimental and quasi
experimental designs in social science (7.5    Research seminar II (7.5 EC)
EC)

MSBS10:         	
  
Traineeship (15 EC)                            MSBS13:

                                               Master’s thesis (22.5 EC)

MSBS11   	
  
Research seminar I (7.5 EC)

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5.3 Qualifications of MSBS alumni

To train students in doing research along these lines, the MSBS programme is designed so
that alumni will have the following qualifications.

Theoretical knowledge and research skills:
At the end of the graduate programme MSBS students should have developed:
1. A strong foundation in the state of the art of research in methodology and statistics of
the behavioural and social sciences as the basis for growth throughout the professional
career.
2. Competence in conducting research in methodology and statistics of the behavioural and
social sciences; students will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to carry out
fundamental and applied research in social science methodology and statistics, at the level
of a PhD project.
3. Knowledge and skills to advise researchers in the behavioural and social sciences in
applying the current state of the art in methodology and statistics. Students will be offered
the opportunity to acquire both the knowledge and skills needed to consult applied
researchers in a wide range of methodological and statistical issues.
General academic skills:
4. Training in academic writing, in presenting for various audiences, in studying and
discussing research papers, and in planning a research project.
General work orientation:
5. They have learned to prepare, attend and process the information provided during
presentations, lunch-talks, a mini-conference and poster sessions.
6. They have learned to work in a research team, and are aware of the rules of scientific
cooperation and communication.

5.4 Major elements of the MSBS programme

To realize the aims and objectives of the programme, the MSBS programme consists of
four elements.
1. The programme includes three courses (7.5 EC per course, total of 22.5 EC) on
fundamental (mathematical) knowledge and (programming) skills required for the
execution of methodological and/or statistical research. These are the courses MSBS3,
MSBS4 and MSBS8.
2. The programme includes two courses (7.5 EC per course, total of 15 EC) on
methodology and research designs of social and behavioural sciences research. These are
the courses MSBS1 and MSBS9.
3. The programme includes three courses (7.5 EC per course, total of 30 EC) on a broad
spectrum of statistical models. In all these courses, the statistical foundation of these
models and practical issues related to applications of these models in empirical research in
the behavioural and social sciences are equally important. These are the courses MSBS2,
MSBS5 and MSBS6.
4. The programme includes individual work in the form of a traineeship (MSBS10, 15 EC)
and on the MSc thesis (MSBS13, 22.5 EC). The latter is supported by two research
seminars that provide guidance through and feedback on all steps involved in thesis
research and thesis writing (MSBS11 and MSBS12, 7.5 EC each, total of 15 EC). Theses
and theses topics are either imbedded in current research in the Department of
Methodology and Statistics, or may be written under the supervision of a senior researcher
(having at least a PhD in methodology or statistics) in an external research institute. In the
latter situation the theses will be co-supervised by one of the teachers or coordinators of
the MSBS programme. Theses are in the format of a journal article.

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5.5 Short course descriptions MSBS

MSBS1: Advanced survey methodology (7.5 EC; coordinator prof. dr. Joop Hox, since
2007-2008: prof. dr. Edith de Leeuw)
        A large fraction of data used in social research is collected by means of surveys that
ask respondents about their opinions, attitudes, or experiences. This course goes beyond
basic concepts and theories fundamental to data collection in social surveys and aims at
training sophisticated future social scientist and survey methodologists. The emphasis is on
surveys as a scientific enterprise. This includes questionnaire design and question
development, referring to cognitive theories of the question-answer process and the
current knowledge based on comparative methodological research. Recent developments in
data collection (e.g. Internet, IVR, mixed-mode) are incorporated. Statistical issues include
weighting respondents to achieve better representativeness, the analysis of complex
surveys, and coping with nonresponse and incomplete data.

MSBS2: Multivariate statistics (7.5 EC; coordinator: dr. Irene Klugkist)
This course includes the presentation of multivariate statistics (multiple linear regression,
(multivariate) analysis of (co)variance, repeated measures analysis, logistic regression),
including applications using SPSS. This ensures a basis in multivariate statistics (both
theoretical and practical) that especially students from other backgrounds than the social
and behavioural sciences may not yet have. The remainder of the course focuses on
related, advanced topics, like for instance, dealing with missing data and with multiple
testing situations. Literature that is critical with respect to null hypothesis testing and that
suggests possible alternatives (e.g. Bayesian methods) is also an important part of this
course.

MSBS3: Foundations of statistics (7.5 EC; coordinator: dr. Dave Hessen)
This course addresses topics in mathematical statistics, which are considered relevant to
research in the social and behavioural sciences. The major topics are: probability theory,
general and special distributions and densities, expectation and moments, sampling theory,
parameter estimation, and hypothesis testing. At the end of the course, students are
supposed to be familiar with: univariate and multivariate probability distributions and
densities; the central limit theorem; properties of estimators: efficiency, sufficiency,
consistency and robustness; different parameter estimation techniques: least squares,
method of moments, maximum likelihood, and Bayes estimation; hypothesis testing theory
and applications; likelihood ratio tests; and goodness of fit tests.

MSBS4: Statistical programming with R (7.5 EC; coordinator: dr. Laurence Frank)
The advances in computational power of today’s computers have enabled newer and more
complicated statistical methods in the behavioural and social sciences and, as a result, the
computational aspect of the statistician’s work has increased. This course teaches the
following computational statistics skills: programming and computer arithmetic, knowledge
of the implementation of numerical approximation methods (e.g. Newton-Raphson
algorithm, maximizing a likelihood function), the generation of data, and Monte Carlo and
resampling techniques (bootstrap, permutation tests, cross-validation) to evaluate the
performance of statistical methods.

MSBS5: Categorical data analysis and psychometrics (7.5 EC; coordinator: prof. dr.
Peter van der Heijden)
The first part of the course deals with models for categorical data. Over the last twenty
years the use of statistical models for categorical data analysis has increased dramatically,
particularly for applications in the social sciences. We use the term categorical data analysis
when the dependent variable is categorical. The leading model is logistic regression when
the dependent variable is dichotomous, and extensions deal with the situation that the
dependent variable has more than two categories that are nominal or ordered.

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The second part of the course focuses on categorical data in psychometrics. In psychology
and education, attributes of individuals are often measured with tests. A test consists of a
number of separate items, questions or problems to be solved. The responses are used to
obtain a score that indicates the degree to which a person possesses a certain quality, e.g.
compulsiveness or spatial intelligence. Psychologists are interested in various aspects of the
scores of such tests. In particular they want to know something about its meaning,
reliability, validity, and the best way to obtain such a score. To this end statistical theories
for tests and measurements have been developed. In this course you will learn to
understand the main test theories and to apply them. Classical theories as well as modern
test theories are covered.

MSBS6: Introduction in multilevel and structural equation modeling (7.5 EC;
coordinators: dr. Mirjam Moerbeek, dr. Ellen Hamaker)
The first half of this course is devoted to multilevel modelling. This technique is appropriate
when the data have a nested structure, for instance, when children are nested in schools or
in case of repeated measurements. The student learns the theoretical basis of multilevel
modelling, including the estimation methods that are used, and obtains hands-on
experience with SPSS and HLM. During the second half of the course the focus is on
structural equation modelling (SEM), which consists of analyzing the covariance (and
mean) structure of the data. The student gets acquainted with important topics and popular
models in SEM using Mplus. In addition the student learns how to translate a path diagram
into the appropriate SEM matrices and vice versa.

MSBS7: Elective course (7.5 EC). Students are free to choose a course other research
masters within the Graduate School of Social and Behavioural Sciences of Utrecht
University, or choose a course outside Utrecht University.

MSBS8: Advanced topics (7.5 EC; coordinator: dr. Ellen Hamaker)
In this course three advanced topics are treated. In the first six weeks the focus is on
Bayesian statistics. The difference between Bayesians and frequentists is emphasized.
Students are made familiar with the basics of Bayesian statistics through programming a
Gibbs sampler in R and performing a posterior predictive check. In the subsequent four
weeks the focus is on incomplete data. The effects of different methods for handling
missing data on the validity of the statistical analysis are discussed. More advanced
methods of data imputation are treated and their strengths and limitations are discussed.
The last four weeks are dedicated to business survey methodology. The various stages in
designing a business survey will be discussed using a response model that distinguished
between design issues that are under control of the researcher and issues that are
incontrollable.

MSBS9: Advanced experimental and quasi-experimental designs in social science
(7.5 EC; coordinator: prof. dr. Joop Hox)
Research design refers to the internal logic of the research, aimed at answering the
research questions as efficiently as possible, given limitations in time and money. The first
step in designing a study is to understand the purpose of the intended study: is it
descriptive or explanatory? If the aim of the study is explanation, the distinction that
follows is whether it is theory testing or theory construction. When these issues are clear,
research design is the next issue. The core of research design is the logical structure of the
inquiry. The course treats classical experimental designs, longitudinal designs, cross-
sectional designs, and case studies. These are discussed in terms of their strengths and
weaknesses in generating unambiguous conclusions by excluding plausible rival
hypotheses. An important component of the course is choosing the optimal analysis method
for data produced in a specific research design. Here, an explicit link is laid between the
methodology and the statistics of empirical research.

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MSBS10: Traineeship (15 EC; coordinator: dr. Irene Klugkist)
During the traineeship the student gets acquainted with a methodological or statistical topic
of his/her choice. Under supervision of a senior researcher he/she studies the current state
of the art of this topic, as well as ongoing research in the field. The student either
participates in a research project in the Department of Methodology and Statistics, or in a
project conducted in another -external- statistical institute (e.g., Statistics Netherlands,
CITO, TNO). Additional to acquiring experience with doing research, the traineeship also
enables the student to formulate a research-question for the master’s thesis as well as a
detailed plan for the investigation of this research-question.

MSBS11 Research seminar I (7.5 EC; coordinator: prof. dr. Herbert Hoijtink and dr.
Laurence Frank)
Research Seminar 1 takes place in the first semester of the second year. It runs along with
the Traineeship (MS10). In the Research Seminar the student will develop a number of
(technical) skills that are necessary for good communication (written and oral) of research.
The Research Seminar also guides the student in the preparation of a proposal and work
plan for the Master thesis.

MSBS12 Research seminar II (7.5 EC; coordinator: prof. dr. Herbert Hoijtink and dr.
Laurence Frank)
This course has three aims. First of all it runs parallel to MSBS13: Master thesis, and
teaches and discusses issues that are relevant during the writing of a thesis: reproducible
research and literate programming; rules of scientific cooperation; and, the construction
and presentation of a poster. Secondly, a number of case studies will be used to let the
students think about, practice and discuss the role of being a consultant in the area of
methodology and statistics for the behavioural and social sciences. Thirdly this course will
coach the students during the writing of a thesis by means of individual and group
discussions of drafts of theses, and, presentations of the theses.

MSBS13: Master’s thesis (30 EC; coordinator: dr. Irene Klugkist; thesis supervisors:
MSBS faculty)
Writing a master’s thesis is the major objective of the second year of the MSBS
programme. The master’s thesis has the form and format of a publishable research article
of approximately 8.000 words. Thus, the thesis contributes to the growth of scientific
knowledge through the development of a problem driven research.

5.6 Admission criteria

Substantive admission criteria include undergraduate training in methodology and
statistics. The minimal entry requirements are (1) a basic course in the methodology of
behavioural and/or social science research (experimentation, surveys, observational
studies), and a basic course in introductory statistics, including topics such as univariate
descriptive statistics, correlation, univariate regression, one-way analysis of variance (both
descriptive and inferential), (2) knowledge of multivariate analysis tools such as factor
analysis, reliability, multiple regression, analysis of variance, dummy variables, (3) hands
on experience with appropriate tools such as SPSS. In total, applicants must have followed
courses for about 20 EC.
        Formal admission criteria with respect to academic achievement in previous
programmes ensure that only applicants with above average academic achievement are
eligible for the MSBS programme. More specifically, a criterion of 3.3 GPA and above, or
7.5 and above in the Dutch system, applies. Applicants with 3.0 GPA or 7 and above are
considered if they excel in specific fields related to the MSBS programme and reveal good
motivation. While the number of such students is small, it is useful to add that they
typically flourish when following the programme, thanks to intensive supervision as well as

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the close contacts with peers, including good to very good other MSBS students who
obviously function as “role models”;
         Since the programme is completely taught in English, applicants are required to
provide proof of their English language proficiency. Examples of accepted minimum English
language test scores are TOEFL internet: 93; IELTS: 6.5 (and 6.0 for written part);
Cambridge EFL Advanced English: B; Cambridge EFL Proficiency in English: C (native
speakers, students who have followed at least two years of higher education in English, and
students with a bachelor’s degree from an English-taught university are likewise considered
to fulfil the language proficiency requirement).
         Applicants who have followed a one-year master’s programme in methodology and
statistics comparable to the first year of the MSBS programme may be admitted to the
second year of the MSBS programme. The Board of Studies of the Graduate School decides
on such admissions on the basis of the grades obtained in the previous master’s
programmes, TOEFL scores and their equivalents mentioned above, and a motivation letter.
The Board of Studies may specify additional requirements for admission in case of
deficiencies.

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