Advanced Social Research
Credits: 4 ECTS
This course provides a broad introduction to social science methodology. Its main focus is on issues of research design that confront both quantitative and qualitative research alike. As such, the course will be less concerned with introducing students to specific methodological techniques (e.g., regression analysis, interviewing, archival work, participant observation). Rather, the course is primarily about the essential logic that underpins social scientific research. You will learn about how to define a research problem, how to construct theories and translate them into testable hypotheses, how to think about research problems in terms of variables, how to select cases that are appropriate to answer your research question, how to move from concepts and theories to the measurement of empirical indicators, and how to make descriptive and causal inferences.
- Class participation (which will be judged by the quality, not just the quantity of your contributions, and is also influenced by your attendance rate) will count for 10% of your final grade.
- Group project. Teams composed of four to five students each will evaluate a research design of a thesis as assigned by the professor. The research design assessment should include a critical overview of:
- the research question and its theoretical and substantive justification,
- whether the literature review is relevant,
- identification of a set of testable hypotheses,
- specifications of the dependent variable, the main independent variables, and the mechanisms linking the two,
- a discussion of case selection,
- critical discussion of appropriate operationalization and measurement strategies.
The group project will count for 25% of the final grade.
- Short take-home exercises. These are three short (double-spaced, not more than 500 words) that focus on applying some of the methodological issues discussed in class towards the design of your own research project. The three exercises will count for 30% (10% each of them) of the final grade.
- Research proposal. The final essay is a draft of your dissertation proposal that draws on the comments you received throughout the course and during dissertation week. The final will count for 35%.
- Class participation: 10%
- Take-home exercises: 30%
- Group project: 25%
- Final essay: 35%