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PLSC 345 Introduction to Research Design

Last time taught: Fall 2018

This course analyses the principles of research design in political science and introduces different types of research designs. The general goal of the course is to provide students with the essential tools to critically assess and produce high-quality research in political science. The course is especially recommended to students who are planning to write a one-term senior essay in political science. More generally, the course is addressed to students who either want to become informed consumers of research outputs in political science, or are interested in conducting research in this field.

The course reviews thoughtfully the process of scientific research, and it covers its different phases: formulating clearly delimited research questions, producing valuable literature reviews, generating theories and evaluating their validity, defining and operationalizing concepts, transforming concepts into variables, drawing testable hypotheses and causal mechanisms, and selecting the appropriate method to test for the hypothesis given data constraints. The course examines quantitative and qualitative methodologies and provides an overview of different methods of hypothesis testing: large-n statistical research designs, comparative research designs, case studies, formal models, experiments and mixed methods research designs.

The course relies on both methodological and substantive articles. The latter illustrates how high-quality research in political science should be done.