Call for Working Papers: Studies on the Chinese Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector

The Chinese nonprofit and voluntary sector has undergone significant growth and change in the past decades, attracting increasing attention from scholars, practitioners, and policymakers around the world. This sector plays a vital role in addressing a range of social issues and challenges facing China, such as poverty reduction, environmental protection, and public health. However, the sector remains understudied and underrepresented in the academic literature.

We are seeking working papers that contribute to the understanding of the Chinese nonprofit and voluntary sector, including its characteristics, challenges, and contributions. We welcome submissions from a range of research fields and disciplines, including nonprofit and philanthropic studies, sociology, economics, political science, public administration, and social work and so on. We define the nonprofit and voluntary sector very broadly, including philanthropic organizations, social enterprises, grassroots and unregistered groups, and others.

Papers will be presented at an occasional webinar convened by Ji Ma (UT Austin) and Mark Sidel (UW Madison). We will also be inviting academics and practitioners active in this area to present more informally and briefly on their current work (without working papers) in other sessions.

Possible topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors in addressing social issues in China.
  • The relationships between the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors and the state, market, and civil society in China.
  • The impact of policies and regulations on the development of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors in China.
  • The organizational structures, governance, and management of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in China.
  • The fundraising and financial sustainability of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in China.
  • The involvement and impact of volunteers, and policies toward volunteering, in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors in China.
  • The role of social media and technology in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors in China.
  • Comparative studies of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors in China and other countries.
  • We welcome empirical papers, and encourage submissions from early career scholars and doctoral students.

Submission guidelines and expected benefits:

  • Working papers should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words in length, including references. A draft paper needs to be shared with the organizers and discussants at least a week before your presentation date.
  • Papers should be written in English and follow a consistent citation format.
  • Authors should provide a brief biographical statement (up to 50 words). Please also suggest 2-3 ideal discussants.
  • For reciprocity, please be expected to serve as future discussants.
  • The audience will be professional scholars and practitioners in the research field.
  • Besides the feedback from the audience, we will have invited discussants for each presentation.
  • The presentations as well as the more informal current research sessions will be held on Thursday mornings Beijing time, which will be friendly to Chinese domestic participants. Insights from colleagues in China are expected and appreciated.
  • Questions or submissions should be sent to Ji Ma at and Mark Sidel at

We plan to select two working papers for presentation in the 2023 spring semester, and we plan to hold two additional more informal sessions highlighting the work of academics and practitioners in the field (without working papers). The presentation announcements will be distributed through numerous scholarly channels of nonprofit and philanthropic studies, such as the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR), the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), the ChinaNGO email list, various WeChat groups, and other channels. We look forward to receiving your ideas and submissions and contributing to the growing body of knowledge on the Chinese nonprofit and voluntary sector.

About the organizers:

Studies on the Chinese Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector currently is a monthly academic webinar organized by Ji Ma at the University of Texas at Austin and Mark Sidel at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with support from the organizers’ home institutions. We hope to expand to in-person workshops and other events in the future.

2023 Spring Course: Computational Social Science Methods (Text and Network Analysis)

The course may also be cross-listed at UT’s soc, info, and govt departments.

The course has demanding prerequisites (, and I hope to recruit highly motivated students to join the self-learning group which helps them meet the requirements. Students who are interested in this course should prepare for the prerequisites over the summer and fall so that they can meet the requirements before the 2023 spring. Course details are below.

Computational Social Science Methods (2023 Spring, graduate course)

This course introduces computational social science methods and contextualizes these methods within the social science research design. The first part of this course (w1–w3) gives you an overview of this course, programming fundamentals, and how to use high-performance cloud computing resources ( The second part (w4–w12) is analysis-oriented and primarily covers text analysis (w4–w8; with an emphasis on multilingual language analysis) and network analysis (w9–w12). The last few weeks focus on research design with computational methods and the final project. Bilingual or multilingual language ability is a plus. Programming is an essential part of this course but not the purpose and will not be taught. We will be coding for social good.

The course has demanding prerequisites (; therefore, students may need to work on the prerequisites in 2022 summer and fall if they are highly motivated. All registrations need to be approved by the instructor in late 2022 fall. Students who are interested in this course can join the learning group ( where more learning resources will be shared.

[3/4] Data analytics for crisis management services

Friday, March 4, 2022, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (need to log into Zoom)

This workshop includes perspectives from Austin Cruz, a 2021 graduate of the LBJ School on the role of data analytics for crisis management services at a top global aerospace company. Join us to learn how this former student was able to leverage a variety of graduate school projects and experiences in the disaster related non-profit and volunteer spaces to land a job as a Crisis Management and Data Analyst.

Austin Cruz was a student in the Data Management and Research Life Cycle class offered in spring 2021.

[10/28] Connect with Dr. Mark Hager

The RGK Center invites you to join us as we welcome Dr. Mark Hager to campus for the day on Thursday, October 28th. See below for the different opportunities to engage with him while he’s on campus and learn more about his research studying the scope, dimensions, administration, and financial operations of and reporting by nonprofit organizations. These events are open to students, faculty, staff, and nonprofit professionals who are interested in connecting with Dr. Hager, so feel free to share with anyone else you think may be interested. 

Dr. Mark A. Hager is an associate professor in the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University. From 2014 to 2021, he directed the ASU graduate program in nonprofit leadership and management. From 2015 to 2020, he served as editor-in-chief of Nonprofit Management & Leadership. Hager joined the faculty at ASU in 2008. Before moving to Phoenix, he was a senior research associate in the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank. His research includes studies of the scope, dimensions, administration, and financial operations of and reporting by nonprofit organizations. Hager earned his doctorate in organizational sociology at the University of Minnesota with a study of the causes of nonprofit organization closure. Hager is a faculty affiliate of the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation and the ASU Center for Organization Research and Design (CORD).

[3/22] Open-Source Intelligence and Truth in a Post-Truth World: Bellingcat’s Practices

MARCH 22, 2021, MONDAY 10:30-11:45 AM (US Central)

Watch the webinar recording here | Presentation slides

– Methodologies for working with open-source data
– Research workflow for robust and meaningful analyses
– Career and curriculum suggestions for graduate students
– Roles of NGOs and civil society actors in combating misinformation

PRESENTER: Aric Toler, Training and Research Director at Bellingcat

Aric Toler is the training and research director at Bellingcat, an online publication specialized in open-source intelligence. Aric’s research including Russian intelligence operations, the war in the Donbas, and the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. Aric received his Master’s degree in Slavic Languages & Literatures from the University of Kansas in 2013 and has since been working with Bellingcat.

RECOMMENDED DOCUMENTARY: Bellingcat – Truth in a Post-Truth World

RGK Center Data Science Speaker Series Presents

Research Assistant in natural language processing

I have a 10-hour Graduate Research Assistant position available in 2021 spring (for UT students only). The project will examine bias and social stereotypes in the nonprofit sector using computational methods. Publication and authorship are possible depending on contribution. The successful applicant is expected to have the following qualifications:

  • Use Python as a primary coding language.
  • Familiar with web crawling and markup languages (e.g., XML and HTML).
  • Proficient in natural language processing, contextual word embedding (e.g., BERT) in particular.
  • Know how to examine and process bias in word embeddings (e.g., ).
  • Knowledge in sociology or psychology is a plus.

Please send your 1) CV, 2) a letter stating your qualifications (300 words max), 3) source codes of your project meeting the qualifications, to

Application deadline: 2021-01-10

Build your own computing cluster on ChameleonCloud

Social scientists also run heavy computational jobs. In one of my projects, I need to analyze the psychological state of a few billion Telegram messages. ChameleonCloud provides hosts with up to 64 cores (or “threads”, sometimes “workers”, yes these terms are confusing but CS folks to blame). But even with parallel computing on the best server, the job will run for years, and I need this project for tenure.

Continue reading “Build your own computing cluster on ChameleonCloud”

[CANCELED][4/9] Dr. Ronald Burt's visit and lunch talk

The visit is canceled because of COVID-19. We will update you if we have further information.

Please save the date for Dr. Ronald Burt’s visit and lunch talk at UT Austin. He will be available to meet students (9:30-11am) and faculty (2:30-3:30pm). Please RSVP here.

  • Lunch talk topic: Trust and cooperation beyond the network
  • Time: 4/9/2020, 12:00-13:30
  • Lunch talk location: Bass Lecture Hall at the LBJ School
  • Abstract: This work has two goals: explore the research strategy of combining incentivized game behavior with large area probability surveys, and use the research strategy to explore how the network structure around a person predicts trust and cooperation beyond the network. Reasoning from research within networks, we hypothesize that network closure has a negative effect on trust and cooperation beyond the network. We find empirical support for the hypothesis in game play and network data on a large area probability sample of Chinese CEOs. More, success is the tonic that animates the hypothesis. Trust and cooperation from CEOs running less successful businesses is independent of their network. In contrast, successful CEOs with closed networks are particularly likely to defect against people beyond their network, and successful CEOs with open networks are particularly likely to cooperate beyond their network. We demonstrate the robustness of our empirical evidence, and discuss future use of incentivized games to obtain behavioral data from respondents in large area probability surveys.

“Ronald Stuart Burt is an American sociologist and the Hobart W. Williams Professor of Sociology and Strategy at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is most notable for his research and writing on social networks and social capital, particularly the concept of structural holes in a social network.” (Wikipedia introduction)

This is a Data Science Speaker Series event and sponsored by the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service and Research Design Working Group.

Operating large files on ChameleonCloud

I primarily use Chameleon Cloud (CC) for my research projects. It provides great flexibility because I can run bare-metal servers (e.g., 44 threads/cores, 128G+ RAM) for a seven-day lease which is also renewable if the hosts I’m using are not booked by others. Its supporting team is also amazing.

But everything becomes slow if you are working with a really big dataset. For example, I’m working on a Telegram project and have 1TB+ data. This really gets me a headache. Well, the CC machines are able to handle this but need extra configurations.

Continue reading “Operating large files on ChameleonCloud”