Methodological workshops
The Methodological Unit of HSSH organizes workshops and courses on methodology, data processing and data analysis in the social sciences and humanities. Our aim is to support researchers in social science and humanities in strengthening their methodological competence and in adopting novel methods.

Information about upcoming workshops will be posted on our website and mailing list.

The Methodological Unit also welcomes suggestions for future workshops and courses. Please post your suggestion for a topic by filling this form.

The suggestions are checked regularly, and they are used to plan future methodological training.

Click here to read about past workshops hosted by MU.

2.6.2023 When research gets under the skin: Developing support mechanisms for the emotional and ethical challenges of sensitive research

Time: 2.6.2033 10.30-14.30

Location: HSSH (Vuorikatu 3) 


Theme: Sensitive research topics could include subjects to do with health and illness, violence and abuse, racism and discrimination, or natural disasters and other crises. Several ethical issues arise when conducting research on sensitive topics. Such research carries the risk of emotional distress for both participants and researchers, as recalling or collecting traumatic experiences may trigger anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, or vicarious trauma. In some cases, investigating a sensitive topic may also place participants at risk of harm. Furthermore, young researchers might be discouraged from engaging with sensitive or divisive topics due to fear of harassment. 

As of now, the University of Helsinki does not have any protocols in place to ensure the safety of researchers and their emotional well-being. There has been a lack of academic support and inadequate training around this topic, leaving researchers and their supervisors to deal with it on their own. Even the mandatory research ethics course for doctoral researchers does not address handling sensitive data and requesting ethical statements when dealing with vulnerable participants. Young researchers are thus left alone with the stress and anxiety of preparing risk assessment documents, often filled with legal jargon. 

We thus ask: What happens when participants' voices live inside your head? What ethical issues are raised in planning and conducting sensitive research? And what could universities do to better support researchers who engage with sensitive topics? This workshop will offer researchers a safe and supportive environment to reflect on their experiences of dealing with sensitive, distressing, or emotional research data, as well as discuss practical solutions for how academic institutions could tackle this issue. 

Pre-assignment: Selected participants are asked to write a research journal for a few days to reflect on emotional and ethical challenges related to the research. The content will not be shared with the group. Participants can write their challenges on Flinga before the starting of the workshop: Code: Access code: EHQG3SC

In the beginning of the workshop, participants will be asked to reflect on the experience on an online whiteboard.  


Registration: The workshop is full and registration is closed. Thank you for your interest!



10.30 coffee

11.00 - 12.30 Part 1: Challenges   

  • Introducing participants and panelists   
  • Reading the results on the whiteboard and discussing with panel   
  • Questions to panelists from moderators and participants  

Lunch break 12.30 - 13.15

Part 2: Solutions 13.15 – 14.30 

  • Brainstorming possible solutions in small groups  
  • Discussing solutions with whole group and panelists  



Raha Sabet Sarvestany  

Postdoctoral researcher and lecturer, Study of Cultures, Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS)  

Raha Sabet Sarvestany is an interdisciplinary-oriented researcher from Iran. Her background is in sociology, political sciences, and religious studies. Her research focuses on migration and political activism in Middle Eastern countries, especially in and from countries with religious governments. Her main research questions relate to women from diverse ethnicities and religious backgrounds, particularly their agency and constructive resilience as social activists or political prisoners.  


Simo Kyllönen  

University lecturer, Doctor of Social Sciences, Department of Philosophy, History and Art Studies, University of Helsinki  

Simo Kyllönen is Lecturer in Research Ethics and Open Science at the University of Helsinki. His  
main research topics are related to intergenerational justice, democratic theory and ethics of  
climate change. He has contributed to books and journals on climate change, intergenerational ethics and democracy.  


Kazimuddin (Kazu) Ahmed is a doctoral researcher at University of Helsinki specializing in participatory visual methods (PVM) for social sciences research and social change. He teaches film students and researchers in using visual methods for inclusive research and visual documentation, and facilitates the use of PVM among social workers and communities to amplify their voices on issues that matter to them. Beyond academia, Kazu explores how a combination participatory methods and digital technology can facilitate collaborative work between researchers, artists and community workers. 



Pasqualina Eckerström  

Doctoral researcher, Study of Religion, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki

Pasqualina Eckerström examines how heavy metal musicians in Iran and Saudi Arabia use their music as a means of resisting religious authoritarianism. She has collected multiple narrative interviews with musicians who have been tortured, imprisoned, or faced capital punishment in Evin, the most infamous prison in Iran. As for Saudi Arabia, she has interviewed musicians who keep their identities secret in order not to suffer the same fate as the Iranian participants. She was forced to think about the worst-case scenario and adopt extremely strict methods to conduct the interviews in a secure and protected manner.  


Helmi Halonen  

Doctoral researcher, Study of Religion, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki

Helmi Halonen studies the assessment of religious persecution claims in the Finnish asylum determination process. She works with a large data set of asylum interview transcripts and decisions obtained with a research permit from the Finnish Immigration Service. The data is highly confidential, and also contains detailed descriptions of violence and traumatic events.  



Matti Pohjonen   

University/Senior Researcher, Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH), University of Helsinki

Matti Pohjonen works at the intersection of anthropology, philosophy and AI. His research interests have involved developing critical new research approaches and methodologies to understand digital cultures and politics in comparative global contexts. His research has contributed to debates on digital politics and conflict globally, including work on online extremism, extreme/hate speech and mis/disinformation. 

5.6.2023 Workshop with Matthew Wood (University of Sheffield): What is the potential of photo elicitation to provide methodological innovation in Politics and International Relations?

12.30-14.00 at HSSH Seminar room (Vuorikatu 3, 2nd floor) 

Students should think about what are the most difficult methodological challenges they face in their own research. This could be related to how they get certain information to answer their preferred research question from interviews, surveys, or experiments. It could be where they think are the limits to the knowledge they can gain about their own research topic, if they only followed methods that are commonly used in their field. Where can they see potential to 'push the boundaries of knowledge' by using new methods? I want them to present one method they are thinking about using or they are already using, and reflect on these questions. I will start by presenting photo elicitation and why I think it can overcome the challenges that I find in my research field. 

Target group: PhD students (or other researchers) in social science (political science, IR, sociology, etc) who are interested in using photo elicitation in their work. 

Suggested reading: Wood, M., Antova, I., Flear, M., & Hervey, T. (2022). What Do “Left Behind Communities” Want? A Qualitative Study in the United Kingdom using Photo Elicitation. American Political Science Review, 1-15.

Click here to sign up for the workshop.

If you have questions, please contact Daria Gritsenko


Please note! Dr. Matthew Wood is also holding a guest lecture on the subject before the workshop – read more & sign up here.

9.6. Workshop: Doing Gender in Mixed Methods Research

The Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH) organises, in collaboration with the Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ), a workshop with Professor Jane Elliott (University of Exeter) on the use of mixed methods. The focus is on gender, but the issues covered are applicable to a variety of research topics combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. The workshop will cover: 

  • practical approaches to mixed methods research 

  • the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches 

The workshop will be held on Friday 9th June 2023 from 1pm to 4pm. It is targeted to researchers at the City Centre Campus and will be held in English. Please find below more detailed info on the practicalities and prerequisites for the workshop. 

Use this form to sign up by Friday 19th May. Participants with prior and/or planned use of mixed methods will be prioritised. Please note that the workshop can only accommodate 20 participants. The registration is thus binding, and you should inform the organisers ( in advance if you need to cancel your registration so that people on the waiting list can be admitted. 


Pre-requisites for the workshop

  1. prereading a book chapter and three short interview extracts (to be circulated) 

  1. attending the lecture Constructing gender and understanding inequality in qualitative and quantitative research by Prof Jane Elliott on Friday 9th June 2023 from 10am to 12am: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies Lecture Hall (Fabianinkatu 24, 3rd floor)

Preliminary programme of the workshop: 

1pm – 1:15: Introductions: previous experience/plans with mixed methods research & interest in gender 

1:15 – 2:00: Presentation: practical approaches to mixed methods research and intro to group work 

2:00 – 2:40: Exercise in groups: analysis of the pre-circulated qualitative interview extracts 

2:40 – 3:00: Tea break 

3pm – 3:30: Feedback and discussion on Group exercise: the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to analysis 

3:30 – 3:45: Discussion: the relevance for participants' own research and analysis practices 

3:45 – 4pm: Wrap up and next steps