Counting ECPR SSMT 2015 Moodle users’ countries/universities of origin

3 minute read

When I attended the ECPR Summer School in Methods and Techniques (SSMT) last year, a fun little exercise of mine was to scrape the list of participants of the ECPR Moodle platform. This allowed me to calculate the sum of participants/instructors per country.

So with a record high of participants at this year’s ECPR SSMT, I thought it be worth a look how the participant/instructor patterns have changed.

The Data

Before I proceed with the updated plots, a couple of words about the data:

  • I scraped the full list of participants from the ECPR’s Moodle website. That website includes both participants/students and instructors, as well as administrative staff. So it’s not a list of students only and should be read with that information in mind.

  • The country counts are based on the information the participants provide in the “country” item in their Moodle platform profile. I’m not entirely sure how the entry in that category gets chosen, but I assume it is taken from the information user provide when registering with the ECPR website. So it’s fair to assume that the “country” entry for each user reflects his or her university of origin, and not the user’s home country.

Plots and Results

The Moodle lists 399 users for the ECPR SSMT 2015. Again, as I said, this doesn’t mean that there were 399 students because the Moodle also includes instructors and ECPR staff. Those 399 users hailed from 33 countries. This is one country less than last year where I counted users from 32 countries. Seven users don’t have an entry in their “country” column and are excluded from the counts.

Here are the users by country.


How much do these counts differ from last year?


It seems as if the British and Swiss universities seem to have more money to send students than last year (even if we take into account the fact that these number include instructors + staff the high numbers are unlikely to be entirely driven by an all Swiss or British army of instructors…).

But I won’t delve into idle speculation about plausible reasons for the patterns in the data because a) the data are too imprecise, since I can’t account for differences between instructors, staff and students and b) we don’t really have enough observations in time to determine whether these changes reflect some trend or are random fluctuation.

Rather, another way to look at this data is to set the count of ECPR Moodle users in relation to the number of universities in this country. Why would that make sense? Well, the intuition behind dividing nationality counts by number of universities is that countries with a higher number of universities are much more likely to send more students and instructors to the summer school. While the number of universities is certainly partially a function of population size and overall level of development, it’s still interesting to see how the number of ECPR Moodle users compare to the number of universities in the country. The data for the number of universities is taken from this website. Here is the corresponding plot:


I leave the interpretation of this data to you. But it’ll be interesting to see if and how patterns will change when the ECPR Summer School is moving to Budapest next year.

PS: I’ll tidy up and post the R code & data that I used to produce these plots in the next couple of days.

PPS: FWIW, here is last year’s count, this year’s count & change in one handy plot: