Research Methods I
Full course description
Research is “creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge […]”. This goal can be achieved in a wide variety of ways. We can count “things”, add them up, calculate statistics about them, and get a reliable overview of “things”. We can also describe those “things” in great detail and question why they are the “things” that they are, and what that means in the context of those “things”. Which approach is better? The answer is that this depends on what you want to learn about those ‘’things”. In other words, if we want to “increase the stock of knowledge”, it partly depends on which knowledge you are interested in increasing (your “puzzle’’ and specific questions), and partly also on what you consider “knowledge” to be in the first place. In Research Methods I, we will address these issues in great detail, and we will go into how a research project can be set up in alignment with the answers to these questions.
Research Methods I (SKI1004), Research Methods II (SKI1005), and the Research Project (PRO1012) form one coherent semester-long block of courses in which you will start from scratch and end with your own finished research project. Along the way, we will discuss a wide variety of research approaches frequently used in the humanities, social sciences, and the sciences. Another goal of this sequence of courses is for UCM as an academic community to further develop its multi/interdisciplinary character, and for students to be able to reflect and comment on each other’s work, no matter how diverse that may become in the course of the next three years.
The first component of this three-course block is Research Methods I. Within this block, you will learn the basics of research: about the systematic and logical aspects that are (virtually) universal across research styles, and about the differences that define them. We will develop a common vocabulary to evaluate and talk about research, and we will work on where it all begins: asking the right questions. From there, we will consider the sub-questions and hypotheses that flow from the central research questions, the data (broadly defined) that we would need to find answers, and how we can analyze that data.
After taking Research Methods I, you will know about:
- What research is, its philosophical foundations, and what the concepts are by which to evaluate it.
- Formulating a good research question, and matching it to a systematic research design.
- Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods, and what their respective advantages are.
- Interpreting research outcomes from a wide variety of approaches.
- Basic statistics, sampling strategies, and survey question design.
- Working with SPSS and executing basic commands.
- Gray, D. E. (2014). Doing Research in the Real World (Third ed.). London: SAGE Publications.