The "Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences – Linking Theory and Empirical Research" seeks to promote young researchers by strengthening their methodological understanding in linking theory and empirical research.
What role does theory play in empirical research? The importance of theoretical reflection for the guidance of empirical inquiry and for scientific innovation is widely acknowledged in the social sciences. But how can we systematically describe the dynamic relationship between theory and data? While it is common sense in the social sciences that theory plays a crucial role in shaping our perspectives on and our interpretations of the empirical reality, the concrete application of theories in new research projects is a task which is far from trivial. It involves not only an intimate acquaintance with the diverse theories of relevance for a certain field of study, but it also requires competence and creativity for their adjustment to specific empirical contexts and sensitivity for the methodological implications, theoretical choices and decisions for the analysis of empirical data. A research methodology which links theories and empirical analysis has to take into account these challenges.
“Clearing the underbrush” (Bevir) of research methodology and explicitly tackling the linking of empirical data to the wide range of theories is the main focus of the Berlin Summer School.