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MEE115_1

Applied social science research methods

This is the study programme for 2019/2020. It is subject to change.


This course will provide a platform for participants' lifelong learning. It will contribute to the research skills of students through hands-on training in planning and conducting research projects. Methods are drawn from major social science disciplines such as psychology, sociology, political science and organization studies.

Learning outcome

It is expected that the students after completing the course will have the following knowledge, skills and general competencies.
Knowledge
Students who successfully complete the course will:
  • know and understand the principles of doing research in social sciences.
  • have some philosophy of science foundation for the knowledge.

Skills
Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:
  • participate in the methodology discourse in empirical social sciences.
  • evaluate social science research.
  • design and conduct research, i.e., be able to choose and implement an appropriate research design, including to:

- develop a problem statement and research questions.
- choose a research strategy.
- develop an analytical/theoretical framework.
- use different qualitative and quantitative methods.
- develop sound measurements.
- design an adequate sampling plan.
- analyze the data and report findings appropriately.
- have a good understanding of the quality and validity of their findings.
General competence
Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:
  • critically evaluate their own and others' empirical research.
  • update their knowledge of research methodology.
  • research and write a readable and scientifically sound master thesis.

Contents

This course will provide a platform for participants' lifelong learning. It will contribute to the research skills of students through hands-on training in planning and conducting research projects. Given the complexity of sustainability, the frameworks and methods taught in this course are drawn from all major social science disciplines such as psychology, sociology and organization studies. Practical research methodology is at the heart of studying the political, economic, environmental and social processes involved with the transition towards a sustainable future. This includes scientific frameworks that shape research designs, thereby giving practical scientific work direction. Further, this includes specific research methods to gather and analyse data on specific phenomena such as the discussion and/or implementation of specific sustainability measures.
The course consists of three main, intertwined parts:
Part one places great emphasis on research designs, i.e. development/clarification of the problem to be addressed and what aspects should be investigated, choice of theoretical and conceptual background and the use of qualitative methods (i.e., interviews, text analysis, discourse analyses, data collection and analysis and report writing). In this part, participants will start exploring their Master thesis project.
In part two, different approaches to case study designs will be explained ("most-similar", "small-N", "medium-N" etc.).
The third part mainly covers quantitative research methods, ways of collecting primary and secondary data, applying standard data handling and analysis systems; analyse and report the findings; interpret the results; and critically evaluate the quality of their work.

Required prerequisite knowledge

None.

Recommended previous knowledge

MEE140 Philosophy of Science and Research Methods

Exam

Weight Duration Marks Aid
Group project report and individual written exam1/1 A - F
Individual project report (during semester). Weight: 2/5. A-F.
Written exam 3/5. Duration 4 hours. A-F.

Coursework requirements

Compulsory student assignments (pass/no pass).

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator
Oluf Langhelle
Course teacher
Torvald Øgaard

Method of work

Lectures, assignments, seminars, discussions and group work.

Open to

Energy, Environment and Society - masterstudium
Societal safety - Master's degree programme

Course assessment

Student evaluation will be carried out in accordance with the Faculty of Social Science evaluation system.

Literature

Main literature:
Pallant, J. (2004). Spss survival manual. Maidenhead UK: Open University Press.
Danermark, et al. (2002). Explaining Society: An lntroduction to Critical Realism in the Social Sciences. Routledge.
Dey, I. (2004). "Grounded Theory". In: C. Seale et al. (eds.), Qualitative Research Practice. London: Sage Publications.
Blaikie, N. (2012). Designing Social Research. Malden: Polity Press.
Yin, R. K. (2014). Case Study Research Design and Methods (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Sovacool, B. K., Axen, J. and Sorrell, S. (218). "Promoting novelty, rigor, and style in energy social science: Towards codes of practice for appropriate methods and research design." Energy Research & Social Science, 45: 12-42.
Supporting literature:
Writing:
Turabian, K. L., and Booth, W. C. (2013). A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations: Chicago style for students and researchers (8 ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Design:
Bordens, K. S. and Abbott, B. B. (2005). Research design and methods. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Measurement:
Bradburn, N. M., Sudman, S., & Wansink, B. (2004). Asking Questions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Reliability and validity:
Churchill, G. W. j. (1979). "A Paradigm for Developing Better Measures of Constructs." Journal of Marketing Research, 16(1), 64-73.
Campbell, D. T. and Fiske, D. W. (1959). "Convergant and discriminant validation by the multitrait-multimethod matrix." Psychological Bulletin, 56(2), 81.
Kirk, J., & Miller, M. L. (1986). Reliability and validity in qualitative research. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications.
Kvale, S. (1995). Issues of validity in qualitative research. Lund.: Studentlitteratur.
Data analysis:
Hair, J. F., Black, B., Babbin, B., Anderson, R. E. and Tatham, R. L. (2006). Multivariate Data Analysis (6 ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.
Feldman, M. S. (1995). Strategies for interpreting qualitative data. In. Thousand Oaks Calif.: Sage Publications.
Interpretation:
Taylor, C. (1971). "Interpretation and the Sciences of Man." The Review of Metaphysics, 25(1), 3-51.
Energy research and methods:
Marshall, J. P and Goodman, J. (eds.) (2018). "Special Issue on the Problems of Methods in Climate and Energy Research." Energy Research & Social Science, 45, 1-384.
Changes in the reading list can occur. These will be announced in Canvas, prior to start of the course.


This is the study programme for 2019/2020. It is subject to change.

Sist oppdatert: 20.11.2019

History