Welcome to Martin Elff’s website!

About Me


My name is Martin Elff, I am a political scientist with research interests in political behaviour, political sociology, comparative politics, and the methodology of political and social sciences. Besides teaching, research, academic governance, I also wrote some software, mostly in R.

Since 2015 I am a professor of political sociology at Zeppelin University (Friedrichshafen, Germany).

You can also find me here:

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Selected publications

Elff, Martin, Jan Paul Heisig, Merlin Schaeffer, and Susumu Shikano. 2021. “Multilevel Analysis with Few Clusters: Improving Likelihood-based Methods to Provide Unbiased Estimates and Accurate Inference”. British Journal of Political Science 51(1): 412-426.


Elff, Martin. 2020. Data Management with R: A Guide for Social Scientists. London: SAGE Publications.

Elff, Martin and Sebstian Ziaja. 2018. “Method Factors in Democracy Indicators”. Politics and Governance 6(1): 92-104.

Elff, Martin. 2013. “A Dynamic State-Space Model of Coded Political Texts”. Political Analysis 21(2): 217-232.

Elff, Martin. 2009. “Social Divisions, Party Positions, and Electoral Behaviour”. Electoral Studies 28(2): 297-308.

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Research interests

My are research interests in the following areas:

  • Political behaviour, in particular electoral behaviour and its relation with social structure. More specifically:

    • class voting
    • religious voting
    • long term change
    • the influence of parties’ (changing) positions
    • with a focus on Germany
    • with a focus on (Western) Europe
  • Reconstructing the political positions of parties
  • Quantitative methods of the social sciences

    • Multilevel modelling
    • Modelling of qualitative/categorical dependent variables
    • Cross-level inference

Teaching subjects

Throughout my career I taught a couple of subjects, including

  • Political sociology and political behaviour

    • Introduction to political sociology
    • Attitude formation and public opinion
    • Electoral behaviour
  • Comparative politics

    • German politics
    • West European politics
    • Parties and party systems
  • Socials science research methods

    • Research design and methods (at various levels)
    • Data analysis (at various levels)
    • Data analysis and graphics with R
    • Mathematical tools for social scientists

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About this website

This site is built with Sphinx, a generator for documentation and static websites, using a heavily modified variant of the insipid theme. The website builds on flat files in restructured text format and in some instances on Jupyter notebooks.

Because it is built with Sphinx, there is a bit of Python programming involved in this website. In particular I wrote a few Python modules that extend Sphinx for the purposes of this website, e.g.

  • attaching files to webpages
  • creating bibliographies and linking publication details from BibTeX files
  • improving the navigation of the site
  • providing an infrastructer for blog posts (with much inspiration from ABlog)