01. Getting started

Course outlook and good research practice.

Julian Hinz https://julianhinz.com
Lift off.

Slack channel: #01-getting-started

Getting started

Welcome to the course “Data Science in International Economics Research”. To get the course up and running, here are a few things to do.

  1. Join the course’s Slack Workspace: dsier22.slack.com. We’ll use this as our main communication tool.

  2. We strongly recommend you sign up for a free Github student account (if you don’t already have one). This allows you to fork the official DSIER repository that contains all reproducible code and even the reproducible environment (more on this just below).1

  3. You’re encouraged to use Visual Studio Code (abbreviated VSCode) in combination with the custom DSIER Docker image to make sure all code runs neatly on “your” machine. You’re of course welcome to use another environment (e.g. RStudio) at your own peril. More on our recommended setup below.

Course repository

The DSIER repository on Github will contain all code that we produce over the course of the semester. It also allows you to fork and contribute. Your forked copy of the repositoy should also be the place where you work on your course project. More on how Git and Github work will be discussed in the lecture.

To sign up for Github, follow instructions here: https://github.com/signup

Recommended setup

The afternoon application session will require you to follow along and implement yourself coding examples that make use of data and methods discussed in the morning session. In order to make sure we don’t spend enormous amounts of time to get everything up and running on everyone’s personal machine, we have prepared a Dockerfile that creates a reproducible environment.2

So, here are the instructions to install Docker and VSCode.


To install Docker, go to

Once installed, the opened Docker Desktop app looks like this:

Docker Desktop.

You likely won’t ever need to do anything here, it’s just important it runs smoothly in the background.


Installing VSCode is just as easy. Go to

Opening VSCode should greet you like this:

Visual Studio Code.

Finally, install the “Remote - Containers” extension — probably VSCode asks you right away if you want to install it. You may also install other extensions that you may find useful. You can/should also log in with your Github credentials, which allows you to commit/push/pull changes3 and syncs settings across machines.

Installing the Github Desktop app is optional, but highly recommended if you’re a Github novice. Go to

Once installed, open the Github Desktop app to see this window:

Github Desktop.

To get started, clone the DSIER repository:

Cloning the DSIER repository.

Finally, open the repository in VSCode:

Opening the DSIER repository in VSCode.


Ready to go in VSCode.

Lecture slides

Morning session slides

View full screen Download as pdf

Afternoon session slides

View full screen Download as pdf


The DSIER repo contains all files produced in the session, as well as the reproducible Docker environment to run it. In case you haven’t joined the repository, here’s a zipped version of the files:


Important: The zipped folder includes a hidden folder called .devcontainer. If you open the folder in VSCode, it will automatically recognize this and ask you, if you want to reopen the folder in a Docker container.

Further resources


  1. We will share the code on this website as well, as a fall-back option, but highly recommend you fork the course repository.↩︎

  2. Essentially a Dockerfile is a recipe for a Docker image, which can be run as a Docker container. More on how this works in the lecture.↩︎

  3. More on that in the lecture.



If you see mistakes or want to suggest changes, please create an issue on the source repository.