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Regular version of the site

Research Seminar "Methodology and Research Design"

2022/2023
Academic Year
ENG
Instruction in English
3
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
When:
1 year, 1, 2 module

Instructor

Course Syllabus

Abstract

1 y. The course offers an introduction to the practice of social scientific research on a graduate level. Considering the interdisciplinary character of the MA program and the diverse background of the student body, the course aims to familiarize students with international standards of linking empirical and conceptual approaches, data-collection, academic writing, and communicating research results. 2 y. The core objective of the course is to facilitate the thesis writing of second-year MA students, building on the skills and knowledge acquired in the first year of their program. In the first four sessions, the logistical, formatting, and ethical issues around thesis writing are discussed, alongside potential avenues for further developing one’s research project (PhD proposals, publications). The second part of the course addresses various content-specific issues. This includes issues that can be crystallized in the progress of thesis writing (such as trade-offs and pitfalls, or data collection), as well as research methods and strategies that have been addressed to a lesser extent in the first year (like set-theoretic methods or process-tracing). In the final stage of the course, students will present their MA thesis research, and discuss the projects in a workshop format.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • to familiarize students with international standards of linking empirical and conceptual approaches, data-collection, academic writing, and communicating research results
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • will be able to confidently mobilize external sources in their research, fully aware of the boundaries between sound academic writing and plagiarism or academic dishonesty
  • will have a firm grasp on the essential practical guidelines of research design and planning.
  • grasps the essential genres of academic writing
  • will be able to effectively communicate their research results
  • becomes familiar with the essential steps of academic publishing procedures
  • applies research skills outside academia will be introduced
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • The fundamental features of academic research and genres of academic writing; research ethics and the use of supporting tools.
  • From literature review to research question
  • From research question to research design
  • Conceptualization and measurement; constructing case studies
  • Critical junctures in research design; trade-offs and pitfalls
  • Data collection
  • Presentation workshop (4 sessions)
  • Position paper
  • Literature review
  • Presentation
  • Written exercises
  • Thesis writing: formal and substantive planning (2 y.)
  • Trade-offs and pitfalls (2 y.)
  • Avoiding the “So what?” question: puzzles, problems and research questions (2 y.)
  • Qualitative data-collections (essentials) (2 y.)
  • Writing a PhD application
  • MA thesis workshop 1
  • MA thesis workshop 2
  • MA thesis workshop 3
  • MA thesis workshop 4
  • MA thesis workshop 5
  • Research question essay (2 y.)
  • Reaction paper (2 y.)
  • Thesis presentation
  • Discussing other thesis project
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking reaction paper
    The reaction paper has to explicate how the methodological considerations introduced in one of the mandatory readings contributes to her/his MA thesis. The reactions paper should be 600-800 words-long, including foot/endnotes, excluding bibliography.
  • non-blocking Literature review
    The literature review should be a narrative text demonstrating the student’s ability to identify the relevant sources for her/his research, to identify various positions and debates in the relevant literature, and to situate her/his own research within these debates. The literature review’s extent shall not exceed 600 words, including foot/endnotes, excluding the bibliography.
  • non-blocking Position paper
    The position paper shall be a problem-based, argumentative text demonstrating the student’s capacity to identify academically relevant problems, finding avenues to tackle it, and communicating her/his arguments in a persuasive, transparent, and succinct manner. The position paper should also demonstrate the student’s firm understanding on the differences between epistemic and methodological traditions. The position paper’s extent shall not exceed 1,000 words, including foot/endnotes, excluding the bibliography. Essay structure: 1. Short and general formulation of answer, outline of structure 2. Review of relevant claims in the literature 3. Critical review of relevant positions. 4. Core of argument, supported by analytical and/or empirical claims. 5. Conclusion, summarizing the core points of the argument.
  • non-blocking participation in the general class sessions
    In both class participation components, the following qualities can result in a maximal grade: • frequency and concision of class participations • originality of class contribution • connection between preparation materials and class contributions • contribution to class discussion dynamics • participation in maintaining an inspiring class environment
  • non-blocking thesis presentation
    The presentation should be a preliminary proposal on the student’s major research project within the program, the MA thesis. Beyond presenting their works, students will also have to comment on other research proposals in a constructive fashion.
  • non-blocking research question essay
    The research question essay should be a 400-600 words-long (including foot/endnotes, excluding bibliography) explication of the student’s central research question in her/his MA thesis, reflecting on its justification, academic relevance, and feasibility.
  • non-blocking Class participation
    In the class participation component, the following qualities can result in a maximal grade: • frequency and concision of class participations • originality of class contribution • connection between preparation materials and class contributions • contribution to class discussion dynamics • participation in maintaining an inspiring class environment
  • Partially blocks (final) grade/grade calculation Written exercises
  • non-blocking Presentation
    The presentation should outline the student’s preliminary proposal for her/his thesis research. The presentation should include the following elements: 1. Empirical problem or theoretical puzzle behind thesis research 2. State of the field 3. Research question 4. Hypotheses/directional expectations/hunches 5. Methodological commitments 6. Logistical plan for research 7. Expected outcomes 8. Discussion on importance of the research
  • non-blocking discussing another thesis presentation
    The presentation should be a preliminary proposal on the student’s major research project within the program, the MA thesis. Beyond presenting their works, students will also have to comment on other research proposals in a constructive fashion.
  • non-blocking participation in thesis workshop sessions
    In both class participation components, the following qualities can result in a maximal grade: • frequency and concision of class participations • originality of class contribution • connection between preparation materials and class contributions • contribution to class discussion dynamics • participation in maintaining an inspiring class environment
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2022/2023 2nd module
    0.2 * Class participation + 0.3 * Literature review + 0.3 * Position paper + 0.1 * Written exercises + 0.1 * Presentation
  • 2023/2024 2nd module
    0.1 * participation in thesis workshop sessions + 0.1 * research question essay + 0.1 * discussing another thesis presentation + 0.3 * thesis presentation + 0.2 * participation in the general class sessions + 0.2 * reaction paper
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Eco, U., Farina, G., & Mongiat Farina, C. (2015). How to Write a Thesis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=963778
  • Hancké, B. (2009). Intelligent Research Design : A Guide for Beginning Researchers in the Social Sciences. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=299002
  • King, G., Verba, S., & Keohane, R. O. (1994). Designing Social Inquiry : Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=329740

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Henry E. Brady, & David Collier. (2010). Rethinking Social Inquiry : Diverse Tools, Shared Standards: Vol. 2nd ed. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  • Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, Henry E. Brady, & David Collier. (2008). The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology. OUP Oxford.
  • Todd Landman. (2003). Issues and Methods in Comparative Politics : An Introduction: Vol. 2nd ed. Routledge.