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What happened at the “Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence using Social Simulation” workshop in Leiden

Poster med

The Lorentz workshop on “Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence using Social Simulation” happened this week in Leiden this week (8th-12th April 2019).

The work in this split up into different sub-projects:

  • QualML4ABM. 3 different ways of using Machine Learning (ML), (1) to derive insights from large and complex data sets (2) to allow greater flexibility in agent behaviours (more complex and data derived than traditional rule-base approaches), and (3) using ML to understand the simulations analysing the output from many runs in many dimensions. They are writing a review paper for how and why ML might be used to help  simulation modelling. Contact Timo <>.
  • Descriptive approaches (The ‘other group’). Doing a survey on the different approaches to using qualitative (or mixed methods) methods for informing the design of simulation models. Starting with a literature view of cases where this is done and then assessing these on a variety of dimensions – how are they used, their function. If interested pleas contact Patrycia <>.
  • Animal Farm. Working on a common language to integrating qualitative and quantitative evidence (in the context of  simulation models). Looked at how each person would approach a particular case study, seeing the variety of approaches. If interested please contact Nanda <>. They also talked about a grant application.
  • NetLogo Extensions. Nicolas Payette <> is considering what NetLogo extensions or other tools could  be helpful for this kind of work. In particular, he is considering a tool to aid in rule provenance (the links between parts of the simulation code and the qualitative data and/or analysis it relates to). We plan to have a session at the Social Simulation conference in Mainz (2019) on this.
  • Are we done yet?. Looked at how one decides when to know to stop adding new details into a simulation. They are planning a pilot study/experiment with students to assess how students decide when a model has enough data sources ideas for processes. The hypothesis is that different students (hence people) are different in how they formulate questions, decide the granularity, interpret a model etc. If interested please contact Thomas <>.
  • RAT (Rigour and Transparency) group. Looking to standards and methods to improve the rigour and transparency of simulation development. Developing a protocol/framework that would could be applied to a wide variety of kinds and purposes of modelling. They have developed a road map of the process which will be developed into a protocol. If interested please contact Melania <>.

There is a private blog where ideas, results pictures from the workshop are published. If  you want access to this please email, me <>

CfP Qual2Rule session @SimSoc2019 in Mainz, 23 – 27 September 2019

There will be a dedicated session to papers about using qualitative evidence to inform social simulation design at SSC 2019 in Mainz,  23 – 27 September 2019.

Title: Using qualitative data to inform behavioral rules in agent-based models

Chairs: Melania Borit (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway (University of Tromsø), Norway), Bruce Edmonds (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)

Many academics consider qualitative evidence (e.g. texts gained from transcribing oral data or observations of people) and quantitative evidence to be incommensurable.  However, agent-based simulations are a possible vehicle for bridging this gap. Narrative textual evidence often gives clues as to the in-context behavior of individuals and is thus a natural source for behaviors to inform the specification of corresponding agent behavior within simulations. The texts will not give a complete picture, but will provide some of “menu” of behaviors people use. During this session we hope to further the understanding of how to improve this. Those interested to present their work in this session have to make sure that their submission explicitly addresses the use of qualitative data in their modelling endeavor. The session is open to all approaches that seek to move from qualitative evidence towards a simulation in a systematic way.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Approaches based in Grounded Theory.
  • Tools for facilitating such a process.
  • Participatory processes that result in a simulation
  • Frameworks for aiding the analysis of text into rules.
  • Elicitation techniques that would aid the capture of information in an appropriate structure.
  • Models and ideas from psychology to aid in the above process.
  • Insights and tools from Natural Language Processing that may help this process.
  • Agent architectures that will facilitate the programming of agents from such analyses.
  • Philosophical or Sociological critiques of this project, pointing out assumptions and dangers.
  • Examples of where this approach has been tried.

To submit a paper go to:

Call for interest in participation in a Lorentz workshop on “Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence using Social Simulation”

Call for expression of interest
Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence Using Social Simulation
A proposal for a NIAS-Lorentz Workshop

It is a principle of science that evidence should not be ignored without an extremely good reason. Thus, researchers are under an obligation to take note of both qualitative and quantitative evidence. However, integrating different kinds of evidence is far from easy, as both kinds of evidence have their own characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. As such, translations between qualitative and quantitative representations is fraught with traps, including the inclusion of hidden assumptions, the addition of systematic bias and cross-context misapplication. However, agent-based social simulation offers a well-founded way of doing this translation by using narrative accounts to inform the specification of agent behaviour and comparing macro-level measures on runs of the simulation with numerical data. In this approach, the simulation forms a kind of bridge between the micro-level qualitative behaviours and the macro-level aggregate outcomes. Following a special issue on this topic in the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation ( and several sessions at the Social Simulation Conference (2014, 2016, 2017), we feel that there is the time to get together researchers who are (or want to) contribute to this endeavour, in order to design a strategy for structuring and developing the field. We would like to gather these researchers together for a NIAS-Lorentz Workshop ( during which we will: identify the key challenges, difficulties, and opportunities of the field; design an action plan to address these challenges and difficulties and follow the opportunities; exchange practices and identify possible collaborations; establish a strategy for consolidating the nascent community of academics in this topic.

Target Dates for Workshop
We would like the workshop to happen during the period 06-10 May 2019, with possible alternatives 19-23 August 2019 and 02-06 September 2019 (dates might change depending on the availability of the venue).

NIAS-Lorentz Workshops
Lorentz workshop ( are very special and highly productive events where a group of (in this case 25) people interact over a whole week. Thus it is essential that participants stay for the duration. Usually various papers, grant proposals and other collaborations come out of these workshops.

The Costs etc
Lunches, tea/coffee, the evening welcome reception and workshop dinner are all provided. There is a deal for a local nice hotel at €85 a night. There will be some monetary support for early stage researchers who can not otherwise afford this (hotel + up to €300 travel).

What you have to do
If you wish to attend you need to write a few paragraphs explaining your relevant research, position and interest in this topic.  Please send this to Melania Borit <> by the 283rd May.


  • (Coordinator) Melania Borit, Associated professor of Social Simulation and Game-Based Learning, at the Norwegian College of Fishery Science, UiT (University of Tromsø) – The Arctic University of Norway, Norway.
  • Stephanie Dornschneider, Assistant professor, University College Dublin, Ireland,
  • Bruce Edmonds, Director of the Centre for Policy Modelling and Professor of Social Simulation, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.
  • Magnús Josefsson, Research Program Manager, Reykjavik SMART City, Iceland,
  • Sarah Mehryar, PhD candidate, University of Twente, the Netherlands,
  • Nanda Wijermans, Researcher, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden.

Qual2Rule papers at Social Simulation 2017 in Dublin 2017

We were very pleased to have papers for two sessions at the Social Simulation Conference 2017 in Dublin (where we have had mostly good weather so far!). The papers are:

  • The Venezuelan System of Potato Production: a simulation model to understand roots of deficienciesOswaldo Terán, Christophe Sibertin-Blanc, Ravi Rojas, and Liccia Romero
  • Qualitative Data in the Service of Model Building — the Case of Structural Shirking — Patrycja Antosz and Harko Verhagen
  • A simulation model for assessing social empowerment: the case of the Southern Rural
    Territory of Sergipe, BrazilMarcos A. S. d. Silva and Pascal Roggero

Extended abstracts available within:

  • An Empirically Informed Practice-centric Approach to Model Demand Response in HouseholdsKavin Narasimhan, Nigel Gilbert and Aimie Hope
  • WHETHER TO PROTEST. A computational analysis of mobilization for the Arab
    SpringStephanie Dornschneider
  • Ontological politics in a world of political ontologiesLia ní Aodha.

Extended abstracts available within:


2 PhD studentships for attending Qual2Rule @ SSC, Dublin, Sept. 2017

Monday the 25th of September 2017. Duration: 90 minutes, @ Social Simulation Conference 2017, Dublin, Ireland. ESSA SIG Using qualitative data to inform behavioural rules

Scholarships: Two scholarships, each of maximum 500 euro, are awarded to cover transport and accommodation costs in connection with this workshop for young researchers in the field of using qualitative data to inform agent-based models. The two scholarships are awarded on competitive basis. Send your CV, letter or interest, and short description of your research project to Melania Borit ( by the 31st of May 2017. The final decision will be taken by mid-June 2017.

Special section of JASSS published on “Using Qualitative Evidence to Inform the Specification of Agent-Based Models”!

This special issue of JASSS is now published! See ( for a more permenant but less nicely formatted link).

The introduction to the special issue is:

Using Qualitative Evidence to Inform the Specification of Agent-Based Models by Bruce Edmonds (The introduction to the issue at:


  • Grounded Simulation by Martin Neumann
  • Structuring Qualitative Data for Agent-Based Modelling by Amineh Ghorbani, Gerard Dijkema and Noortje Schrauwen
  • From Participants to Agents: Grounded Simulation as a Mixed-Method Research Design by Ozge Dilaver
  • Heads and Hearts: Three Methods for Explicating Judgment and Decision Processes by Warren Thorngate
  • Exploring Transitions Towards Sustainable Construction: The Case of Near-Zero Energy Buildings in the Netherlands by Jesús Rosales-Carreón and César García-Díaz
  • Identifying Salient Drivers of Livelihood Decision-Making in the Forest Communities of Cameroon: Adding Value to Social Simulation Models by Sukaina Bharwani, Mònica Coll Besa, Richard Taylor, Michael Fischer, Tahia Devisscher and Chrislain Kenfack
  • Interactive Simulations with a Stylized Scale Model to Codesign with Villagers an Agent-Based Model of Bushmeat Hunting in the Periphery of Korup National Park (Cameroon) by Christophe Le Page, Kadiri Serge Bobo, Towa Olivier William Kamgaing, Bobo Fernanda Ngahane and Matthias Waltert
  • A Context- and Scope-Sensitive Analysis of Narrative Data to Aid the Specification of Agent Behaviour by Bruce Edmonds

Papers at the “Qual2Rule” session at Social Simulation 2014 in Barcelona

15:00 [603] ESSA, SIG-Qual2Rule: Using QUAL Data, Chair: M. Borit

15:00 [603] Mieczyslaw Metzger and Piotr Skupin: “Human-in-the-loop simulation based system for more effective allocation and training of experimenters’ groups in stimulation of biotechnological processes” #11

15:30 [603] Roman Seidl: “Social Scientists, Qualitative Data, and Agent-Based Modeling” #21

16:00 [603] Syed Muhammad Ali Abbas, Rachel Aldred, Zaid Chalabi and James Woodcock: “Use of an agent-based model to explore urban transitions in commuter cycling” #57

16:30 [603] Annalisa Stefanelli and Roman Seidl: “Moderate and Polarized Opinions. Using Empirical Data for an Agent-Based Simulation” #14

17:30 [603] ESSA, SIG-Qual2Rule: Using QUAL Data

17:30 [603] Jose Antonio Noguera, Antonio Parravano, Paula Hermida and Jordi Tena-Sanchez: “Simulating Social Influence Dynamics From Observational Data: The Case Of Secessionist Flags in Barcelona’s Balconies” #48

18:00 [603] Martin Neumann and Ulf Lotzmann: “From evidence to criminal agents: Modelling the collapse of a criminal network” #71

18:30 [603] Gary Polhill, Nick Gotts, Amparo Alonso-Betanzos, Noelia Sanchez-Maroño, Oscar Fontenla-Romero, Tony Craig and Ricardo Garcia-Mira: “Qualitative spatial representation in agent-based models” #120

Papers from the ESSA 2013 track on “Using qualitative data to inform behavioral rules”

Some were published in:

Kamiński, Bogumił; Koloch, Grzegorz (Eds.) (2013) Advances in Social Simulation: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the European Social Simulation Association.  Springer.

Links of these papers are given to SpringerLink, others a direct pdf is provided with permission of the authors, who retain copyright in these cases.

Session 1:

Session 2:

Session 3:

Session 4:

Reminder: 15th October Deadline for submission to the special issue of JASSS on this topic!

Special issue/section of the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS) on: “Using qualitative data to inform behavioral rules

In other words, unpublished (note 1) reports on approaches that start with qualitative data (in some form) and attempts to use this to inform the specification of an agent-based simulation.  We recognise that this is very much an open issue, and thus we are open to contributions from many different fields that would contribute to parts of this project.  However, we particularly value papers with a well-described method that is illustrated with specific examples, going from the qualitative data all the way to some rule or other code that forms part of a simulation (or could do so) with some assessment of the method’s pros and cons.

Deadline: 15th October 2013

Submission instructions: Do not submit to JASSS but to this easychair site:

Please read and note the instructions for formatting the document that are at:

Any queries or difficulties, please contact me, Bruce Edmonds <>

Note 1: Papers that were published in conference proceedings (e.g. ESSA 2013) are acceptable if expanded, revised and updated.  Attendees of the special track of ESSA on this topic are expected to take comments and discussion into account.