Online ISSR Summer Methodology Workshops | Getting Started with Bayesian Statistics | Andrew Cohen, Justin Gross and Jeff Starns

Monday, June 15, 2020 - 9:00am to 11:00am
Monday, June 15, 2020 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 9:00am to 11:00pm
Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - 9:00am to 11:00am
Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Online Event - Login credentials via email for registered participants


This workshop will be offered online

Description: This 3-day (12-hour) seminar is designed for researchers who would like to have a better understanding of Bayesian statistics and who need some help taking the first steps toward incorporating Bayesian statistics into their research practices. We will cover (1) the basic logic of Bayesian inference; (2) how this logic applies to estimating parameter values and testing hypotheses; (3) available software for performing Bayesian analyses across a wide range of statistical applications such as group comparison and regression; and (4) differences between the Bayesian approach and traditional statistics (e.g., p values).

We will work through examples using the Bayes Factor package and JAGS, both of which are open-source packages that run in R, which is an open-source statistical program. Basic familiarity with R will be very helpful, but attendees do not need to be R experts. The instructors can provide resources for learning R basics before the seminar upon request.          

Instructors: Andrew Cohen, Justin Gross and Jeff Starns

Andrew Cohen is a Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has a PhD in Psychology and a MSc in Computer Science. His research integrates behavioral experiments and computational modelling to uncover the psychological mechanisms underlying reasoning, judgment, and decision-making. He is also a Co-PI on an NSF grant testing different visualization techniques for teaching Bayesian reasoning to undergraduates. He teaches the introductory graduate statistics series to students from a wide range of disciplines.

Justin Gross is an Associate Professor of Political Science and a core faculty member of the Computational Social Science Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has Master's degrees in Mathematics, Public Policy, and Statistics, and received his Ph.D. in Statistics and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University in 2010. Dr. Gross develops and applies measurement models for text, networks, and surveys. He has also created predictive and visualization tools for voter turnout and group electoral influence while serving as chief statistician for Latino Decisions, a leading source of polling and analysis for Latino politics and opinion. Recently, he has been collaborating with computer scientists to analyze the framing of policy issues and measure expressed ideology within large corpora of text.

Jeff Starns is a Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. His research explores basic processes of memory and decision making by testing mathematical models, with a particular focus on modeling response times. His hobbies include birding, playing guitar, and finding ways to bring up Bayesian inference in everyday conversation. 

Questions? For more information about this or any of the ISSR Summer Methodology Workshops, please contact ISSR Director of Research Methods Programs Jessica Pearlman (

Registration is closed for this workshop.

Five College Students and Faculty

  • Five College Undergraduate and Graduate Students:  $150/person
  • Five College Faculty and Staff:  $250/person

Non-Five College Students and Faculty

  • Non-Five College Undergraduate and Graduate Students:  $275/person
  • Non-Five College Faculty, Staff and Other Professional:  $400/person

Registration note: The Five Colleges include: UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College. Registration closes for each workshop 2 full business days prior to the start date. Please note: payment of registration does not guarantee a spot in these space-limited workshops. You will receive an email confirming the names of workshops for which your registration has been accepted. If a workshop you have registered for is over-subscribed, you will be refunded and offered placement on a wait-list.. If paying with departmental funds or personal checks, contact Karen Mason (

Cancellation note: In cases where enrollment is 5 or less, we reserve the right to cancel the workshop.  In cases where the registrant cancels prior to the workshop, a full refund will be given with two weeks notice, and 50% refund will be given with one week notice.  We will not be able to refund in cases where registrant does not notify us of cancellation at least one week prior to the beginning date of the workshop.