Nils B. Weidmann
I am Professor of Political Science and head of the "Communication, Networks and Contention" Research Group. Previously, I held research fellowships at the Centre for the Study of Civil War, Peace Research Institute Oslo (2011-12), the Jackson Institute, Yale University (2010-11), and the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University (2009-10). I received a M.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Freiburg (Germany) in 2003, a M.A. in Comparative and International Studies from ETH Zurich (Switzerland) in 2008, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from ETH Zurich in 2009.
Available as supplementary material along with the respective journal article, or in my DataVerse.
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Letters of recommendation
I am happy to write letters of recommendation for students that (i) have successfully participated in at least one of my courses with very good results (final grade >= 1.7), and (ii) have produced a single-authored piece of written work, such as a research paper. I need at least three weeks prior notice before the letter is due. All letters will be confidential in the sense that they will only be mailed to the respective institution/organization the student is applying to.
Supervision of BA/MA theses
Prior to working on your thesis, you should have completed the necessary coursework related to your work. This includes (i) the necessary substantive courses such that you are familiar with the literature, and (ii) the necessary methodological training. As an advisor, I will help with both, but cannot give basic introductions.
While it is useful to have current events or particular cases that motivate your topic, your research question needs to be broader and should try to advance our understanding of politics beyond single cases. This is why your research question should not focus on a single case, but rather a more general theory/mechanism etc. In your analysis, you can then study particular cases in depth, in order to derive insights that ideally apply beyond these cases.
When you develop your thesis proposal, think about the research design you will use, and how it helps you answer your research question. Is this a single-case study? Or will you be using a comparative research design (small-N or large-N)? How do you collect the evidence you need for your work?
Before you officially register the thesis, you need to complete a proposal of at least three pages (excluding references) that describes (i) the research question, (ii) the relevant literature, and (iii) the methodological approach you intend to follow. The actual time you can spend on your thesis is relatively short, so it is necessary to have a clear direction and a feasible plan before the clock starts ticking. You don’t have to develop this proposal alone – I will comment and discuss at different stages. This process takes time, so you need to start developing your proposal early enough.
If you work on your thesis under my supervision, it is generally expected that you participate in my colloquium. Your main task will be to present your work, but also to comment on your fellow students’ projects.