SoDa Team Workshop: Causal Impact Assessment

On 26 May 2023, from 9:00 to 17:00, the ODISSEI Social Data Science Team (SoDa) hosts a workshop on causal impact assessment at Utrecht University. The workshop is led by Erik-Jan van Kesteren and Oisín Ryan (SoDa / Utrecht University).

What is causal impact assessment?

How do we assess whether a school policy intervention has had the desired effect on student performance? How do we estimate the impact a natural disaster has had on the inhabitants of affected regions? How can we determine whether a change in the maximum speed on highways has led to fewer accidents? These types of questions are at the core of many social scientific research problems. While questions with this structure are seemingly simple, their causal effects are notoriously hard to estimate, because often the researchers cannot perform a randomized controlled experiment. 

In this workshop by the ODISSEI Social Data Science Team (SoDa), Erik-Jan van Kesteren and  Oisín Ryan will offer hands-on training on several basic and advanced methods (e.g., difference-in-difference, interrupted time series and synthetic control) for answering such questions. This workshop will focus on two aspects: 

  • What are the causal assumptions underlying these methods?
  • How can we put these methods in practice?

At the end of this workshop, participants have a firm grasp of the basics and limits of causal impact assessment, as well as the skills to start applying these methods in their own work.

For whom?

This workshop is open for researchers employed at the ODISSEI member organizations. If you are interested in the workshop but are not affiliated with one of the member organizations, please get in touch with


Potential participants should meet the following requirements to benefit from the workshop:  

  • you are comfortable with estimating and interpreting regression models
  • you are familiar with the R programming language and you have a recent version installed
  • it’s a bonus if you are somewhat familiar with the tidyverse suite of packages (readr, dplyr, ggplot, tibble)
  • you have installed the following R packages on your computer:
    • tidyverse
    • sandwich
    • lmtest
    • tidysynth
    • rdrobust
    • fpp3
    • mice
    • CausalImpact

You can use the following code to install these at once:

install.packages(c("tidyverse", "sandwich", "lmtest", "tidysynth", "rdrobust", "fpp3", "mice", "CausalImpact"))


The workshop will take place on 26 May 2023, from 9:00 to 17:00, at Utrecht Science Park (exact room to be determined). The workshop is free of charge for researchers employed by ODISSEI member organizations

For registration please go here. The registration is open until 12 May 2023, 15:00 C(E)ST or until the available spots are filled. Please note that places are limited and allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Participants are requested to bring a laptop with R packages installed (see above). 

Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

About the workshop leaders

Erik-Jan van Kesteren is an assistant professor in the Human Data Science group at the Methodology and Statistics department of Utrecht University. As part of ODISSEI, he leads the ODISSEI SoDa team, a team of data scientists working on several projects in the domain of computational social science. 

Oisín Ryan is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Methodology and Statistics at Utrecht University. He works on methods for causal inference, time-series analysis, and computational modelling in social and behavioural science research. He is part of the ODISSEI SoDa team


For questions on the workshop please contact the SoDa team via

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash