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Advanced Research Methods

Research advice for upper division undergraduates and graduates in the social sciences and humanities.

Research Methods

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This guide was originally designed and written by Katalin Radics.

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Research: Systematic investigation of a subject in order to find something new

Skills and Abilities

The most important ones:

  • Curiosity, creativity
  • Diligence
  • Passion, focus, interest, enthusiasm
  • Critical thinking
  • Strong analytic problem solving skills
  • Academic integrity
  • Good communication skills

What Kind of New Knowledge?

(Based on Nicholas Walliman: Research Methods: the Basics. Routledge, 2011)

  • Categorization - form a typology of works, personalities, objects, etc.
  • Description - observe and write up what you consider typical, specific, or accidental
  • Explanation - answer the question: why?
  • Evaluation - make judgements and compare to a norm, scale, typology, etc.
  • Comparison - list the similarities and differences in order to better understand one or both of the compared things
  • Correlation - do two phenomena influence each other? How? Are there links between two things? Or, are they independent?
  • Prediction - on the basis of past correlations, tell how probable a future event, action, outcome, etc. could be.
  • Control/validatation - in technology or sciences implementing the new correlation, correspondance, cause and effect, etc. In humanities: state the probability of similar correspondance, correlation, etc. in cases you have not investigated.

Critical Reading

It is very important to fully understand and critically analyse the texts of primary and secondary literature.

  • Make judgements about the text.
  • Reflect about the content of the text and the way it is written. Make an effort to understand not only what is written, but also how the text portrays the subject.
  • Try to understand how the author of the text thinks about the subject matter and compare it with the way you, the reader would think about it.
  • Is the text an objective description of the subject? Or, does the text reflect biases, irony, creative imagination, hypotheses, etc.?
  • If the text is an interpretation (biased, ironical, etc.), what is the standpoint of the interpretation?
  • What is the author's purpose with the interpretation?
  • What kind of choice did the author make when s/he described the subject? In what kind of frame did the author place the subject?

Handbooks and Guides on Research Methods