Foto: Matthias Friel
What is Social Science Research and how does it work? What is the difference between a journalist and a researcher? In times of „fake news” and claims of a „post factual society”, the skill to distinguish between fact and opinion, between theory and evidence, is key. Scientific (social) research is a tool to describe and explain the world around us by using a specific set of methods. It is the scientific method as such that sets research apart from other modes of producing knowledge. The course will guide through various steps in the process of producing high-quality research and teach students the hard skills and difficult choices involved in the craft.
Social science includes a large variety of different methods, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The type of methods applied to pursue a research question are called research designs. Only a thorough understanding of research designs and how they have been applied will allow the reader to assess the quality of research and challenge the validity of evidence. In this seminar, students will be introduced to the basic concepts of research designs, different options and the relative advantages and disadvantages of various research designs. Knowledge about research designs will prepare students for their research work (course papers, final theses etc.) at the university. It will also help refine them as critical and organized thinkers more generally. Understanding of research designs will help students evaluate phenomena in society and question common assumptions about society from various perspectives. Evidence is all around us and a deeper understanding of where evidence comes from will allow students to navigate whatever field they wish to enter.
In the first block of the seminar, students will be introduced to basic concepts in developing a research project including 1) developing a research question, 2) theory, 3) defining concepts, 4) measurement, 5) data collection, and 6) causality. In the second block of the seminar, students will be introduced to common research designs in the social sciences based on practical examples using quantitative and qualitative data.
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