Competences and Services
The ISG Institute for Social Research offers a broad range of services both with regard to contents as well as methods. These services rely on the competences of the institute’s employees which they have established and extended after finishing their scientific education by conducting research projects for public authorities.
The institute’s employees are equipped with comprehensive competences regarding the following activities and services:
Evaluation of public programs and interventions using a sound mix of methods
The thematic range of research projects conducted by ISG encompasses investigations on the impact of national labor market policies, quality assurance and management in public administration, the steering and supervision of public programs, the programming and evaluation of European Social Funds measures, the assessment of research and training programs, life situations and circumstances using the capability approach, periodic reporting on the social situation, medical rehabilitation and care and impact analyses of sociopolitical pilot projects. In almost all projects we use a mix of qualitative and quantitative measures of empirical research which are combined into a comprehensive and holistic study design direct to specific research questions of the project.
Organization, realization and analysis of standardized surveys among various respondent groups using different methods
The collection of primary data tailored to the particular needs of the project represents an integral part of the institute’s work. This is done by conducting standardized surveys among various respondent groups using different methods of data collection. In the past ISG conducted paper-and-pencil as well as online surveys among employees, unemployed, students, retirees, companies and institutions implementing publicly funded measures. In some cases these surveys followed a panel design, i.e. embraced more than one wave. Furthermore, several computer assisted telephone interviews (CATI) were implemented for which ISG developed the concept, the sampling frame and the questionnaire. Field work was then done by a specialized service provider.
Organization, realization and analysis of semi-standardized interviews with experts and case studies using qualitative methods of social research
Another integral part of the institute’s projects is represented by semi-standardized interviews with experts and case studies. These both aim at the exploration of a thematic field as well as the validation of and the collection of feedback for insights gathered from other sources. Building on the long-term experience of the institute’s employees an independent methodological concept was developed, practically implemented and continuously augmented.
Analysis of large datasets using econometric methods
Another key aspect of our research projects is the analysis of large datasets using univariate and multivariate econometric methods. This includes encompassing descriptive analyses as well as counterfactual impact evaluations. Econometric analyses are not only applied to primary data collected in the projects but also to existing datasets like the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), the German micro census, the Panel Labor Market and Social Security, the European Labor Force Survey (EU-LFS) or the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). Furthermore, administrative data – especially from the Federal Employment Agency – is used for several projects, particularly for counterfactual impact evaluations.
Preparation and target group related presentation of scientific results
Finally, an important element of our scientific work comprises the preparation and target group related presentation of scientific results. This does not only apply to findings obtained by quantitative methods, but especially to those. They are presented in a way that recipients who are not familiar to econometric methods will be able to understand them. The target group related presentation of results also includes the comprehensible deduction of conclusions and recommendations. In many projects this also included the cooperation with advisory boards, steering committees and coordination units.
Our understanding of high-quality scientific policy advice follows the „Leitlinien Politikberatung“ of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. Scientific policy advice neither can nor should substitute political decisions and societal discourse. In fact, its main task consists of preparing, enabling and critically accompanying the latter.
Against this background, the major problem of scientific consultancy is to apply the knowledge generated according to scientific criteria and interests to policy relevant questions in a form which enables conclusions and recommendations that are both scientifically reasonable and politically implementable.