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Social Research Methods (FUN108)

Annotation

The ability to formulate the right questions and choose the most efficient tools for seeking answers, as well as to intelligently interpret the information gathered and presented by others, is one of the main competencies a university education should foster. This course will equip students with both the understanding of principles that guide quality research and the tools needed to implement those principles in formulating a research project, selecting appropriate methods, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting their findings. We will focus on the practical application of the concepts and methods discussed in the course by conducting students’ own research projects and critically analyzing the research of others.

Course aims

The main goal of this course is to impart knowledge and skills necessary for conducting and evaluating social science research. The course will begin with the introduction to the fundamental principles that underlie approaches to research and the practical implications of these principles, including formulation of research questions, concepts of validity and reliability, and issues of research ethics. Students will learn to review literature and conduct secondary and primary research. We will especially focus on the main qualitative and quantitative methods of primary data collection used in social science research. Conducting their own research projects will help develop students’ practical research skills, and analysis of published research and other students’ research projects will sharpen their ability to critically evaluate the information coming from research conducted by others. Presentation of their own research findings and discussion of others’ research will also serve to refine the students’ presentation and communication skills. Students who have successfully completed the course and all its assignments will be able to define the research question, formulate the research design, choose the appropriate methods for data collection and analysis, present and interpret their findings, and critically evaluate other researchers’ output. Finally, the skills and knowledge gained in this course will also be employable during the preparation of BA theses.

Learning outcomes

  • To understand the purpose of research.
  • To identify and understand potential ethical, empirical and analytical problems plaguing the research process and ways to overcome them.
  • To formulate a research question and design an appropriate way to answer it.
  • To formulate testable hypotheses and choose the most appropriate tools for testing them.
  • To identify and understand the main qualitative and quantitative methods of social science research, their advantages and disadvantages, and appropriate application areas.
  • To conduct secondary research and write a literature review.
  • To develop skills in choosing suitable case studies, sampling, measurement, questionnaire design, designing and executing experiments, conducting interviews and surveys, leading focus groups.
  • To develop skills of quantitative and qualitative data analysis and interpretation of its results.
  • To communicate research findings and their implications in a clear and well organized way, both orally and in writing.
  • To critically evaluate the quality of other people’s research findings and the process used to obtain them.
Syllabus
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