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Research Methods 2013

RESEARCH METHODS
Second Semester 2013
Graduate Diploma in Social Science
Nepā School of Social Sciences and Humanities

 

Instructor: Bandita Sijapati

 

Course Description

This course on Research Methods is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of social research including research design, data collection, data analysis, questions of validity, and ethical issues that must be considered while conducting research in the social sciences. The course is divided into three substantive sections: (a) theory and methods; (b) research design and tools for data collection; and (c) data analysis techniques.

Our examination of these topics will provide students with introduction to both theoretical as well as applied tools in each of these topics. We will begin the course with discussions about the general logic of scientific inquiry, mainly, the relationship between theory, research methods, and social understanding.

In sections two and three, we will discuss in greater detail qualitative and quantitative research methods, while concentrating on the basic techniques of conceptualizing a research project, developing various research instruments, data collection, identifying respondents, data analysis, and presentation of findings. In doing so, we will focus on analyzing the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each method while bearing in mind the general rule in research methodology that research questions should drive the research methods and data collection—not the other way around.

 

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students are expected to be familiar with the following:

  • Principles of scientific inquiry in social science research, fundamentals of quantitative and qualitative research tools and the epistemological and methodological debates concerning different research methodologies including positivist theory, feminist analysis, Marxist analysis, grounded-theory, critical theory, etc.
  • Gain an understanding of the main methods used by researchers in the social sciences such as survey research, ethnographic research, in-depth interviews, oral histories, participant observation, and archival research.
  • Understand the practical application of research techniques such as administering surveys, conducting interviews, and writing fieldnotes along with the processes of sampling, data collection and data analysis.

 

Course Requirements

In general, readings for each week are primarily divided into two parts. The first set of readings will provide students with the theoretical underpinnings of research methodology/ research tools. The second set of readings which are mostly based on Nepal, are intended to serve as supplements that will illustrate the theoretical principles presented in the former. While reading the second set, which I hope students will be able to skim through quickly, please pay attention to the methodology used and not so much to the content of findings/analysis. In order to help students navigate through the reading materials, each week, I will provide a set of “Reading Guidelines” that will contain questions/issues that students should bear in mind as they read these materials.

The final grade for the course will be based on the following:

Participation: The final grades for participation will be based on attendance and quality participation in the class discussions and lectures on a regular basis. By quality participation, I basically mean that students are able to demonstrate that they have read the material for discussion and are able to effectively contribute to the discussions. Participation grade will account for 20% of your final grade for the class.

Reflection Papers: There will be three reflection papers (approximately 2-3 pages, single-spaced) spread throughout the semester that will require students to analyze the theoretical precepts of research methods. Collectively, these reflection papers will account for 30% of your final grade. The topics as well as due dates for these reflection papers are as follows:

  • Reflection paper based on the readings and class discussions from Week 1 and 2, due on 1st Class of Week 3. 
  • Reflection Paper based on the readings and class discussions from Weeks 3 to 4, due on 1st Class of Week 5.
  • Reflection Paper based on the readings and class discussions from Weeks 5 to 6, due on 1st Class of Week 7.

Group Projects/Assignment: To provide some experience in research methods, students will be divided into groups of three/four to conduct small projects that will require the application of some of the research tools and techniques that will be covered in class. These assignments will account for 30% of your final grade.

  • Group Assignment I: Design a Survey Questionnaire to address a research problem/question of your interest. Due on 1st Class of Week 10.
  • Individual Assignment: Applying one of the research techniques for collecting qualitative data, e.g., participant observation, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, etc., write fieldnotes and a memo reflecting on your experience. Due on 1st Class of Week 12.
  • Group Assignment: Basic Statistical Analysis of the Nepal Living Standards Survey 2003-04 using SPSS. Due on 1st Class of Week 15.

Final Paper: In addition to the short assignments, students will be required to submit a final paper (approximately 6-10 pages) that will be due at the end of the semester. Students may choose their own topic for the paper but will have to be approved by the instructor. The final paper will account for 20% of your final grade.

 


DETAILED COURSE OUTLINE

 

PART I: Theoretical Frameworks and Research Methodology

Week 1: Introduction to Social Science Research

Day One
Neuman, Lawrence W. “Theory and Research” in Social Research Methods. Allyn and Bacon, 2003, pp. 41-67.
Mills, C. Wright. “On Intellectual Craftmanship” in Clive Seale (ed.) Social Research Methods: A Reader. London and New York: Routledge, 2008, pp. 19-25.

Day Two
Michael, S. L., Alan, B. and Tim, F. L. “Philosophy of Social Research” Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004, pp. 817-820.
Mishra, Chaitanya. “Social Research in Nepal: A Critique and a Proposal” in Essays on the Sociology of Nepal. FinePrint Books, 2007, pp.323-363.

Week 2: Logic of Social Inquiry: Research Paradigms and Research Methods

Day One
Creswell, John W. “Philosophical, Paradigm and Interpretive Frameworks,” Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design, Sage Publications, 2nd edition, pp. 15-34.
Mahoney, James and Gary Goertz. “A Tale of Two Cultures: Contrasting Quantitative and Qualitative Research” Political Analysis. Vol. 14, No. 3, Special Issue on Causal Complexity and Qualitative Methods (Summer 2006), pp. 227-249.

Day Two
Crook, Charles and Dean Garatt. “The Positivist Paradigm in Contemporary Social Science Research” in Bridget Somekh and Cathy Lewin (ed.) Research Methods in the Social Sciences. New Delhi:Vistaar Publications, 2005, pp. 207-214.
Murshed,  S. Mansoob and Scott Gates. “Spatial–Horizontal Inequality and the Maoist Insurgency in Nepal” Review of Development Economics. Vol. 9, No. 1, 2005, pp. 121–134.

Assignment: Reflection Paper based on the readings and class discussions from Week 1 and 2 is due on 1st Class of Week 3

Week 3: Comparative Analysis and Historiography

Day One
Paul, Pennings, Keman Hans and Jan Kleinnijenhuis. “The comparative approach: theory and method” in Paul Pennings, Keman Hans and Jan Kleinnijenhuis (eds.) Doing Research in Political Science. London: Sage Publications Ltd, 2006, pp. 18-29.
Lawoti, Mahendra. “Ethnic Dimensions of the Maoist Insurgencies: Indigenous Groups’ Participation and Insurgency Trajectories in Nepal, Peru and India” in Mahendra Lawoti and Anup Pahari (ed.)The Maoist Insurgency in Nepal: Revolution in the Twenty-first Century. New York:  Routledge, pp. 135-155.

Day Two
Tuchman, Gaye. “Historical Social Science: Methodologies, Methods and Meanings” in Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln (eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publications, 1994, pp. 306-323.
Onta, Pratyoush. “Creating a Brave Nepali Nation in British India: The Rhetoric of Jāti Improvement, Rediscovery of Bhanubhakta and the Writing of Bīr History” Studies in Nepali History and Society. Vol. 1 No.1, 1996, pp. 37-76.
[Note: Read pages 37-54 thoroughly to understand the principles of historiography, and skim through the remaining pages to understand how archival research has helped trace the making of Bhanubhakta a national icon of the Nepali nation.]

Week 4: Grounded Theory and Ethnography

Day One
Strauss, Anselm and Juliet Corbin. “Grounded Theory Methodology” in Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln (eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1994, pp. 273-285.
Morrow, Susan and Mary Lee Smith. “Constructions of Survival and Coping by Women Who Have Survived Childhood Sexual Abuse” in John W Creswell (ed.) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design. 2nd  Edition, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2007, pp. 285-308.

Day Two
Geertz, Clifford. “Being There” in Clive Seale (ed.) Social Research Methods: A Reader.London and New York: Routledge, 2008, pp. 236-240.
Creswell, John W. “Ethnographic Research,” in Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design.Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publications, 2nd edition, 2007, pp. 68-72.
Hangen, Susan. “Introduction: Democracy and Ethnic Politics” and Democratization and Local Politics: An MNO Village Government" in The Rise of Ethnic Politics in Nepal: Democracy in the Margins. London and New York : Routledge, 2009, pp. 1-18 and  pp. 84-109.
[Note: Skim through pages 84-109 in order to understand how ethnographic methods used in the research project, detailed in the “Introduction” has helped arrive at the analysis presented in this chapter.]
Assignment: Reflection Paper based on the readings and class discussions from Week 3-4 is due on 1st Class of Week 5

Week 5: Marxist Analysis and Structural Functionalism

Day One
Parsons, Talcott. “An Outline of the Social System” in Craig Calhoun et al. (ed.) Classical Sociological Theory. Madlen and Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006, pp. 366-385.

Day Two
Lafferty, George. “Class, Politics and Social Theory: The Possibilities in Marxist Analysis” Critical Sociology.Vol. 22, No. 2, 1996, pp. 51-65.
Blaike, Piers, James Cameron and David Seddon. “Centre and Periphery” in Nepal in Crisis.New Delhi:Adroit Publishers, 2007, pp. 72-94.

Week 6: Critical Theory and Feminist Methods

Day One
Tyson, Lois. “New Historical and Cultural Criticism” in Critical Theory Today. 2nd Edition, New York and London: Routledge, 2006, 281-315.
Tyson, Lois. “Lesbian, Gay and Queer Criticism” in Critical Theory Today. 2nd Edition, New York and London: Routledge, 2006, 317-357.

Day Two
Harding, Sandra. “Is there a Feminist Method” in Feminism and Methodology: Social Science Issues.Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1987, pp. 1-14.
Sharlene, Nagy Hesse-Biber, and Patricia Leavy. "Feminist Media Ethnography in India: Exploring Power, Gender, and Culture in the Field” in Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber and Patricia Leavy (eds.) Emergent Methods in Social Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc., 2006, pp. 337-368.

Assignment: Reflection Paper based on the readings and class discussions from Week 5-6 is due on 1st Class of Week 7

 

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PART II: From Theory to Data Collection

Week 7: Research Design, Constructing Reliability and Measuring Validity

Day One
Creswell, John W. “Introducing and Focusing the Study” in Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2nd edition, 2007, pp. 101-115.
Terry, E. Hedrick, .Bickman and J. Rog Debra. “Selecting a Research Design”inTerry E. Hedrick, Leonard Bickman, and Debra J. Rog (eds.) Applied Research Design. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage  Publications Inc., 1993, pp. 38-67.

Day Two
Fowler, F.J. “Designing Questions to be Good Measures” in Survey Research Methods. New Delhi:Sage Publications, 3rd edition, 2002, pp. 69-93.
Glewwe, Paul. “An Overview of Questionnaire Design for Household Surveys in Developing Countries” in Household Surveys in Developing and Transitional Countries: Design, Implementation and Analysis, United Nations, 2002, pp.1-19.

Week 8: Methods for Collecting Quantitative Data

Day One
John, Brewer, and Albert Hunter. “Collecting Data With Multiple Methods” in John Brewer and Albert Hunter (eds.) Foundations of Multimethod Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc., 2006, pp. 58-77.
Moore, David S. “Producing Data: Sampling” in The Basic Practice of Statistics. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 3rd Edition, pp. 175-190.

Day Two
Neuman, Lawrence W. “Survey Research” in Social Research Methods.Allyn and Bacon, 2003, pp. 263-305.
Sharma, Sudhindra and Pawan Kumar Sen. “Political Opinion Poll in Nepal’s Context” Studies in Nepali History and Society. Vol. 10, No. 2, December 2005, pp. 321-358.

Group Assignment: Design a Survey Questionnaire to address a research problem/question of your interest. Due on 1st Class of Week 10

Week 9: Experimental Research and Content/Textual Analysis

Day One
Neuman, Lawrence W. “Experimental Research” in Social Research Methods.Allyn and Bacon, 2003, pp. 237-258.
Hafer, Carolyn L. and Laurent Begue. “Experimental Research on Just-World Theory: Problems, Developments, and Future Challenges” Psychological Bulletin.Vol. 131, No. 1, 2005, pp. 128–167.

Day Two
Berg, Bruce L. “Introduction to Content Analysis” Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. Allyn and Bacon, 1989, pp. 105-127.
Ahearn, Laura M. “Meeting by Way of a Letter” Invitation to Love: Literacy, Love Letters and Social Change in Nepal.Adharsh Books, pp. 119-145.

Week 10: Methods of Collecting Qualitative Data: Field Research, Interviews, Participant Observation

Day One
Neuman, Lawrence W. 2003. “Field Research” in Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches.Allyn and Bacon, 2003, pp. 363-400.
Varshney, Ashutosh. “Ethnic Conflict and Civil Society: India and Beyond” World Politics. Vol. 53, No. 3 (April, 2001), pp. 362-398.

Day Two
Gerson, Kathleen and Ruth Horowitz. “Observation and Interviewing: Options and Choices in Qualitative Research” in Tim May (ed.) Qualitative Research in Action.Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publications, 2002, pp. 199-224.
Licehty, Mark. “Middle-Class Consciousness: Hanging Between the High and the Low” Suitably Modern: Making Middle-Class Culture in Kathmandu.Martin Chautari, 2003, pp. 61-86.  

Week 11: Methods of Collecting Qualitative Data: Case Study, Focus Group Discussions, Action Research

Day One
Barbour, Rosaline and John Schostak. “Interviewing and Focus Groups” in Bridget Somekh and Cathy Lewin (eds.) Research Methods in the Social Sciences.New Delhi:Vistaar Publications, 2005, pp. 41-48.
Stark, Sheila and Torrance Harry. “Case Study” in Bridget Somekh and Cathy Lewin (eds.) Research Methods in the Social Sciences.New Delhi:Vistaar Publications, 2005, pp. 33-40.
Lecomte-Tilouine, Marie. “Terror in a Maoist Model village, mid-western Nepal” in Dialectical Anthropology, Vol. 33, 2009, pp. 383–401.

Day Two
Noffke, Susan and Bridget Somekh. “Action Research” in Bridget Somekh and Cathy Lewin (eds.) Research Methods in the Social Sciences.New Delhi:Vistaar Publications, 2005, pp. 89-96.
Banjade, Mani R, Harisharan Luintel, and Hari R Neupane. “Action Research Experience on Democratizing Knowledge in Community Forestry in Nepal” in Hemant R. Ojha, Netra P. Timsina, Ram B. Chhetri, and Krishna P. Paudel (eds.) Knowledge Systems and Natural Resources Management, Policy and Institutions in Nepal. IDRC, 2007, pp.110-134.

Assignment: Applying one of the research techniques for collecting qualitative data, e.g., participant observation, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, etc., write fieldnotes and a memo reflecting on your experience. Due on 1st Class of Week 12

 

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PART III: DATA ANALYSIS AND WRITING

Week 12: Analyzing, Exploring and Summarizing Quantitative Data

Day One
Derek, Layder. “Analyzing Data with Theory in Mind” in Derek Layder (ed.) Sociological Practice. London: Sage Publications Ltd, 1998, pp. 51-78.
Neuman, Lawrence W. “Analysis of Quantitative Data” (Chapter 12) in Social Research Methods. Allyn and Bacon, 2003, pp. 331-360.

Day Two
Moore, David S. “Picturing Distributions with Graphs” in The Basic Practice of Statistics. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 3rd Edition, 2006, pp. 3-21.
Moore, David S. “Describing Distributions with Numbers” in The Basic Practice of Statistics. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 3rd Edition, 2006, pp. 32-48.

Group Assignment: Basic Statistical Analysis of the Nepal Living Standards Survey 2003-04 using SPSS is due on 1st Class of Week 15

Week 13: Gathering and Analyzing Qualitative Data

Day One
Neuman, Lawrence W. “Analysis of Qualitative Data” Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Allyn and Bacon, 2003, pp. 438-467.

Day Two
Emerson, Robert, Rachel Fretz and Linda Shaw. 1995. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1995, pp. 169-210.
Cameron, Mary. “Many Dalits: Debating Identity in a New Nepal” in Arjun Guneratne (ed.) Dalits of Nepal: Towards Dignity, Citizenship and Justice.Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies, Social Science Baha, Himal Books, Nepal, 2010, pp. 7-43.

Week 14: Ethics and Social Science Research

Day One
Punch, Maurice. “Politics and Ethics in Qualitative Research” in Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln (eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publications, 1994, pp. 83-98.
Helm, Charles and Mario Morelli. “Stanley Milgram and the Obedience Experiment: Authority, Legitimacy, and Human Action” in Political Theory. Vol. 7, No. 3, August 1979, pp. 321-345.

Day Two
Neuman, Lawrence W. “American Sociological Association Code of Ethics” (Appendix A) in Social Research Methods. Allyn and Bacon, 2003, pp. 501-512.
Campbell, Gabriel and Linda Stone. “An Anthropological Appraisal of Survey Research in Nepal” in Gabriel Campbell, Ramesh Shrestha and Linda Stone (eds.) in The Use and Misuse of Social Science Research in Nepal. 2nd Edition, Mandala Book Point, 2011, pp. 27-69.

Week 15: Review Week