Research Seminar "Design and Methodology"
- 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
- has a firm grasp on the essential practical guidelines of research design and planning
- is able to effectively communicate their research results
- becomes familiar with the essential features of academic publishing procedures
- has avenues of applying research skills outside academia
- The fundamental features of academic research and genres of academic writingThe key formal and substantive requirements of the MA thesis, the major stages of the procedure, and key consideration in planning the project will be discussed
- Avoiding the “So what?” question: puzzles, problems and research questionsThis seminar focuses on how various audiences (departmental, academic, professional) perceive research questions and projects, helping students formulating their own inquiries in a way that matters beyond the academic procedures of the program.
- Writing a PhD applicationSession on the strategic and logistical sides of PhD applications, including discussion on the relevance of MA thesis in PhD applications.
- An introduction to the basics of academic publishingHow does the process of academic publishing look like? In what regards are journal articles different from MA theses, or academic monographs different from PhD theses? Preliminary insights from junior academics.
- Trade-offs and pitfallsThe most major trade-offs (holism vs parsimony, validity vs reliability, etc.) and common pitfalls (ecological and individualistic fallacies, spurious vs over specified models, etc.) will be addressed in a hands-on fashion.
- Mixed-methods researchThis session will be dedicated to the discussion of various mixed-methods research strategies, their potential risks and returns, addressing both the epistemic and more practical aspects of these issues.
- Process-tracing & QCAIn this session, a brief introduction will be provided to two qualitative research methods which were addressed to a lesser extent in the earlier methodological classes, process-tracing and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA).
- Qualitative data-collections (essentials)The most common qualitative data collection methods, such as interviews, fieldwork, participant observation, and discourse analysis will be discussed from a practical angle. The core questions of the class session will be: what kind of research questions do these methods fit; on what scale can one plan using these methods within the framework of an MA thesis project; and which are the primary trade-offs linked to each method? Within this session, students will share their qualitative data collection plans with the opportunity for an open and constructive discussion over this matter.
- Presentation workshops (10 sessions)In the last ten sessions, students will share their preliminary plans for their MA thesis and present it in a conference-style presentation and discussion.
- Short assignments
- Research question essay
- Reaction paper
- Thesis presentation
- Discussing other thesis project
- Short assignmentsThe short assignments are brief exercises, following up on specific aspects of a given class, e.g. discerning cases of academic dishonesty and plagiarism, transgressing boundaries in academic genres, etc. Depending on the discussions within the class sessions, 2-4 of these will be assigned throughout the semester, always touching upon specific practical matters.
- Research question essayThe 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.
- Reaction paperThe 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.
- Thesis presentationThe 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 style.
- Participation in the general class sessionsIn 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
- Participation in thesis workshop sessionsIn 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
- Discussing another thesis presentationBeyond presenting their works, students will also have to comment on other research proposals in a constructive fashion.
- Interim assessment (3 module)0.1 * Discussing another thesis presentation + 0.1 * Participation in the general class sessions + 0.1 * Participation in thesis workshop sessions + 0.15 * Reaction paper + 0.15 * Research question essay + 0.1 * Short assignments + 0.3 * Thesis presentation
- Bob Hancké. (2009). Intelligent Research Design : A Guide for Beginning Researchers in the Social Sciences. OUP Oxford.
- King, G. (DE-588)135604311, (DE-627)568593324, (DE-576)166299405, aut. (1994). Designing social inquiry scientific inference in qualitative research Gary King; Robert O. Keohane; Sidney Verba.
- 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
- 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.