POS 6736 Professor Anderson Meeting time: Tues 11:45-2:45
Anderson 318 or periods 5-7 Matherly 0004
Office hours Tuesday and Thursday 9-10:30
This course is about research design and methodology. It pairs itself with the
“Scope” class you took last fall. “Scope” is about different ways of thinking about political science; “Conduct” is about different ways of collecting data. The course does not have a specific substantive focus nor will you be asked to become knowledgeable about a substantive matter. Instead it is intended to introduce you to a broad range of methods for collecting data. Some of these methods can be used in circumstances where you are conducting highly exploratory research and no one or almost no one has gone before you to conduct research on that subject. Or, alternatively, others of these methods can be used where many, many people have already done research on the same subject and you are refining knowledge rather than exploring.
It is my goal that you will learn to use these methods either by collecting your own data or by listening to those who have done so. I specifically do not want you to confine yourself to reading about other people’s research or methodology. I want you to use the methods for yourself. Many of you have read my essay in Perestroika, and are familiar with the metaphor that knowing multiple methods is comparable to having a new tool box. Inside are some tools you have seen before and others you have never laid eyes on. In this course we will examine each tool separately, either putting it to use ourselves or reading the work of others who have used it or listening to the research stories of still others who use these tools. By the end of the class you will feel comfortable with the entire tool box and every implement in it. You will be able to carry it around wherever your research takes you and you will always be able to use all those tools to answer your questions. This is the purpose of this course.
For your dissertation you will be asked to design and complete a research project of your own. By the end of the course my hope is that you will feel sufficiently comfortable with all of these methods that you would be willing to attempt any one of them or any combination of them if the question you ask requires it. The goal will be to permit you to ask any question you dream of - and then to have in your hands the tools you will need to find the answer. Course work: There is nothing more deadly than spending a semester reading what others have to say about “methodology.” Therefore you will spend a considerable amount of time for this course in the field actually doing different kinds of research. Your readings will be a supplement for what you are doing in the field. In Part I you will learn about four different kinds of research: participant observation, focus groups, interviews, and survey research. Please come to class on the first day having done some of the reading on each of these three methods. We will divide the class into four teams. Each team will then spend a few weeks conducting research in that genre and then report the results of that research back to the class. In Part II we will move carefully through a series of research methodologies, reading and hearing about each. In the last part of the course you will design a research project on a question that interests you in the field of your own substantive interests. You will have several weeks to prepare that design and you will present it to your classmates during class in the final weeks of the semester. When you present it to your classmates, the class and the professor may raise questions about some of your design or make corrective suggestions. You will then have a chance to revise your design before turning it in to me on the due date. In this course work hard, do all the reading, get your assignments in on time, including the survey data collection for the class data set, never ask for an extension, always come to class and always participate in discussion. NEVER MISS CLASS UNLESS YOU ARE ILL OR ARE AT A PROFESSIONAL CONFERENCE!!!! But most of all, HAVE FUN! Grading: Sixty percent (60%) of your grade will depend upon your research design, including your incorporation of the criticisms and questions that come during your class presentation. The rest of your grade will depend upon your work in class. This includes:
your team work and your part of the team presentation
your collection of additional survey data for the class data set
your timely completion of all assignments without delay or extensions
your attendance at all classes and participation in class on a weekly basis Reading: There are 12 required books and three required articles. All materials should be on reserve and all books are available at local book stores or online. I recommend you purchase them all as they will be references throughout your graduate study and you will be using them in other courses. A note on the books: Except for Monroe, Perestroika, and Moses/Knutsen, the books fall into two categories: either they discuss methods or they exemplify methods. Monroe, Perestroika discusses graduate study and doing research more generally King; Bernard; Krueger and Casey and Steward and Shamdasni discuss specific methods. The rest of the books use one or several methods and you will need to read all or most of the book to understand the methods.
A note on the articles: Geertz exemplifies participant observation. Bischoping and Schuman exemplify how not to do survey research and my article shows why. Required Readings books 1) Kristen Renwick Monroe, ed., Perestroika: The Raucous Rebellion in Political Science
2) Jonathan Moses and Torjorn Knutsen, Ways of Knowing: Competing Methodologies in Social and Political Research
10) Leslie E. Anderson and Lawrence C Dodd, Learning Democracy: Citizen Engagement and Electoral Choice, 1990-2001.
11) Marc Howard Ross, The Culture of Conflict: Interpretations and Interests in Comparative Perspective
12) Charles Tilly, Popular Contention in Great Britain 1858-1834 articles 1) Clifford Geertz, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,” Daedalus, Winter, 1972, pp 1-37; reprinted in Geertz Clifford, ed., Myth, Symbol and Culture, New York, WW Norton, pp 138.
2) Bischoping, Katherine and Schuman, Howard, “Pens and Polls in Nicaragua: An Analysis of the 1990 Pre-election Surveys,” American Journal of Political Science, Vol 36, 1992, pp 331-50
3) Anderson, Leslie, “Neutrality and Bias in the 1990 Nicaraguan Preelection Polls: A Comment on Bischoping and Schuman,” American Journal of Political Science, Vol 38, 1994, pp 486-94. I understand that you have read this exchange in Dodd’s class. If you have not read this, it is required reading for this class. DateTopicReading required (please complete the reading by the date given)
Getting Started: What question interests you? Construct problem-driven research. Don’t let the methods drive your question.
January 5 getting started Divide class into 4 teams. Come to class with a first and second choice for which team you want to be on