Developing your own research methods final assigment

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

GET A 40% DISCOUNT ON YOU FIRST ORDER

ORDER NOW DISCOUNT CODE >>>> WELCOME40

APA Quick Checklist

Things to check before you submit. Do this with time to spare: there is sure to be stuff you still need to work on!
 
 

Formatting

  • Have you used a 12 point font like Garamond or Times, 1.5 line or double spaced, left aligned A4 paper settings with 2.5 cm margins
  • Have you labelled all tables, figures etc. with Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3), using separate numbering for tables and for figures, and discussed them in the text?

Source use

  • In the text, have you used author surname and year in parentheses ( ) the first time you refer to that author in each paragraph? Put only the year in parentheses if the author’s name is part of your sentence.
  • Wherever you used another author’s words, have you put them in double quotation marks “” and provided a reference with surname, year and page number after the quotation?
  • For quotations over 40 words long, have you used a block quotation (separate paragraph, left indented, no quotation marks)?
  • Have you avoided extensive verbatim quotation, unless you are analysing and discussing these authors’ words as part of your analysis?
  • Wherever you have paraphrased or summarised an author, have you provided a reference to that person’s work to avoid plagiarism?
  • Have you included all sources you cited in the text in your reference list?
  • Have you removed from your reference list any sources you didn’t cite in the final text?
  • Have you made sure you have not cited any authors you have not actually read in the original? (Cite the author who quoted them, not the original you didn’t read.)
  • Have you cited the different types of source you use (book, article, chapter, etc.) in the correct way?
  • For all internet sources you cite, have you provided in the reference list the author (which may be an organisation), date, title, date of retrieval, URL and checked that they still work?
  • Have you limited footnotes or endnotes to those that are necessary for the discussion?
  • Have you ordered the surnames in your reference list alphabetically, using a hanging indent for each new item?

Structure

  • Have you used headings wherever helpful to divide your paper sensibly into sections?
  • Have you made sure that your hierarchy of headings makes sense, and that if you divided a section, it has at least two subsections?
  • Have you introduced each section of the paper, and concluded it with at least a sentence before moving to the next section?
  • Have you checked that your text is divided into manageable paragraphs, and that these flow smoothly and logically from each other without sudden jumps?
  • Have you checked that your findings in your conclusion match what you said you would do in the introduction, (i.e. your goals have not shifted in writing the paper)?
  • If an abstract is required, have you included one (max 150-200 words)?
  • If a table of contents is required, have you included it, with page numbers, and does it match exactly the reality of your sections?

Language and style

  • Have you avoided informal language, jargon, excessive acronyms/abbreviations, and contractions?
  • Have you avoided sentences of over 3 lines unless these sentences are very clear and easy to understand on first reading?
  • Have you read through your work aloud to see if it sounds clear and comprehensible?
  • Have you used gender-neutral, unbiased language?
  • And, before you submit, have you checked through carefully for typos, grammar errors, and punctuation mistakes? Don’t submit careless work!

 
 
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
BA European Studies
Year 2
Period 3
2017/2018
Skills EUS2511
Course book
Developing Your Own Research
Design
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
2
INTRODUCTION 3
1. Introduction 4
2. Course objectives 5
3. The course in the BA ES curriculum 6
Place in the skills training trajectory 6
Links with content courses 6
4. Course design 7
5. Course assessment 8
6. Course team 10
Coordinator 10
Tutors 10
Sessions & Assignments 11
Session 1 From puzzle to research question in an interdisciplinary setting 12
Session 2 The role of theories and concepts 15
Session 3 Operationalization 17
Annexes 19
Annex I: Overview skills trajectory 20
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
3
INTRODUCTION
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
4
1. Introduction
European Studies is an interdisciplinary program. Halfway through your second year in
the BA ES, this notion does not come as a surprise anymore. As Lynggaard et al.
(2015, 4) note: “The complexity of EU affairs calls for research methods known
from a number of disciplines and for the further development of cross- or
transdisciplinary research designs.” Throughout this first half of your BA
programme, you have been reading and analysing texts from a wide variety of
disciplinary backgrounds, ranging from history, to economics, law, political science,
public policy, and sociology. While these different disciplines all speak their own
language – they have their own set of core theories and concepts, and generally work
with a confined set of research methodologies – there is also considerable overlap in
how research is conducted in these various disciplines. In the skills course Analyzing
Research Designs you have already been confronted with the fact that notwithstanding
the disciplinary background, all academic research follows certain common rules and
principles (also identified as ‘steps’ in the research process). And this is precisely
where this skills course comes in: How do you develop your own research design
from an interdisciplinary perspective? What are the key steps in the research process
that all researchers need to take, no matter what discipline(s) are central in the
research project?
Being able to develop your own research design is a crucial first step for any research
endeavour you will undertake, whether for a paper or thesis in your BA program,
your MA thesis, or even a research project you might need to complete during later
internships or jobs. Your research design sets out the overall strategy that you choose
to integrate the different components of the study in a coherent and logical way. It
provides the blueprint or roadmap for how you will approach, analyse and answer your
research question. It is simply the outlining of precisely what you will research and how. In
the process of developing your own research design, it is crucial to keep in mind that
it is the research problem that determines the type of design you should use, and not
the other way around.
After having practiced your first papers in An Introduction to academic research and writing,
Bloody Diversity, and Policy Domains, this skills course is meant to complete the first
general ‘research skills’ part of the overall skills trajectory (see an overview of the
skills trajectory in Annex I). We will therefore come back to some of the skills you
have already developed and practiced in earlier skills courses, so as to train you
further in how to develop a strong research design from an interdisciplinary
perspective. Several steps are needed to be able to put together a strong and
workable research design. During the course Analyzing research designs you have already
learned how to recognize the research design in papers of other academic scholars.
You learned that all academic research – whether stemming from different
disciplinary backgrounds – adheres to certain logics and principles. In this skills
course the main aim is not to analyse other scholars’ work and identify how they
conducted their research, but to develop your own research design. The design we
want you to develop is linked to the content course you are currently taking:
International Relations or Placing Europe. In the research design you develop, you will
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
5
particularly concentrate on the crucial steps that are relevant for the most commonly
used types of research in the field of European Studies, be it historical, political,
economic or sociological in nature: how to develop a good research question, how to
identify the relevant theoretical or conceptual approach to help answer that question, and
how to operationalize your approach.
2. Course objectives
The main objective of Developing Your Own Research Design is to equip you with the
skills you need to construct your own research design for writing an academic paper.
At the end of this skills course you will have learned to:
 understand the differences between various types of research questions and
formulate a relevant research question for the broader research puzzle at
hand;
 select a relevant theoretical or conceptual framework related to the research
question;
 operationalize your theoretical or conceptual framework;
 explain and justify the various choices you make in your research design.
Revisions and response to students’ input
This completely revised version of Developing your own research design was introduced in
2016/2017. With the revisions of the entire skills track of the BA ES, the place and
aim of this specific skills course changed drastically. As explained below, this is now
the last course in the introductory trajectory of the BA ES research skills track. We
have decided to concentrate the three sessions on those topics that students
consistently demonstrate difficulties with in writing their BA thesis. At the same
time, these are the three crucial steps you need to start formulating your own
research design. Last year, students reported positively about the chosen topics for
this skills course, and many students indicated that they welcomed to concentrate
more in-depth on these three crucial topics in a research project.
A suggestion made by many students was to place this skills course earlier in
the BA curriculum. You have already written several papers by now, and thus might
feel it is redundant to discuss again topics such as the formulation of a research
question. We have experienced, however, that discussing this skill after gaining the
first experience actually helps better to understand how to further improve it. In
other words, having struggled with some of these issues during Policy Domains actually
makes you more receptive and open to learning during this course. This course does
not yet cover the final substantial element necessary to complete your own research
design, namely methodology. As can be seen in Annex I, research methods form the
key component of the skills trajectory in the last year and a half of your BA.
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
6
3. The course in the BA ES curriculum
Place in the skills training trajectory
This is the last course in the introductory ‘research skills’ part of the BA ES skills
trajectory (see your separate ‘BA ES skills training trajectory manual’ for more
information on the entire trajectory). In An Introduction to Academic Research and Writing
you learned the basics of writing an academic paper. In What is good science you then
reflected upon what science, and social science in particular, actually is and how it
can be conducted. At the end of year 1, you learned how to recognize a research
design in the course Analyzing Research Designs. Year 2 started with Back to the Sources
where you discussed the do’s and don’ts of using sources in academic research.
Before turning more explicitly to ‘research methods’ in period 4 (Introduction to
Qualitative Methods) and period 5 (Introduction to Quantitative Methods) and in year 3
(elective research methods courses, where you can choose between interviewing,
survey research and advanced document analysis), this course focuses on further
developing the skills you need to develop your own research design.
Being able to understand how broader research puzzles can be fine-tuned into a
workable research design is an essential skill you need to master to be able to
complete your BA thesis the next academic year. Figure 1 illustrates which parts of
the BA thesis assessment criteria are explicitly practiced in this skills course.
Figure 1 – Topics of this course in relation to the BA thesis
Assessment criteria BA thesis Focal points in Developing your own research design
 Research question
 Contribution
 Analytical framework
 Analysis
 Conclusion
 Structure
 Language and rhetorical skills
The part of the thesis that explains what
the research is about and how it will be
conducted.
Links with content courses
In parallel with this course you will take one of the two electives offered in period 3
of year 2: Placing Europe or International Relations. This skills course is directly linked to
these two content courses, as you will be asked to develop a research design related
to one of the pre-selected broader research puzzles that are discussed in the electives.
In other words, you will use the topics discussed and the literature from your elective
content course to develop your own research design. This allows us, in this short
four-week course, to directly start working on a concrete research design without
losing too much time thinking about a topic and collecting literature.
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
7
4. Course design
Developing your own research design consists of both lectures and tutorials. In addition to
the mandatory readings, you will have to submit two assignments.
Lectures (Tuesdays 11.00-13.00)
There are three lectures in total, accompanying the tutorials. The lectures on
Tuesdays prepare you for the work to be done for the tutorials on Fridays. Attending
the lectures will help you better understand the assignments that you need to do for
the tutorials.
Tutorials (Fridays)
There are three tutorials in total, each centred on a core theme related to the
development of your own research design. The tutorials require preparation and the
submission of an assignment.
Readings
The readings are divided into compulsory readings related to the development of a
research design, as well as readings related to the content of your topic. The research
design readings are available in the library (learning and resource centre collection
fasos). The content-related readings are available via your elective course Placing
Europe or International Relations. We use two core handbooks for this course:
 Menken, S. and M. Keestra (eds.) (2016) An Introduction to Interdisciplinary
Research. Theory and Practice, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
[available as e-book]
 Toshkov, D. (2016) Research Design in Political Science, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Macmillan.1
1 Please note that while the title of this book explicitly refers to political science, much of what is written
in this book applies to related disciplines as well.
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
8
5. Course assessment
You are expected to attend and actively participate in all the tutorial-group meetings.
During the meetings we will discuss your submitted assignments. During the
previous academic year, we noticed that passing this course without actively
discussing your own assignments in the tutorial meetings is difficult. You will receive
an ‘excellent’, ‘pass’ or a ‘fail’ based on your final research design.
Assessment criteria:
Submit a 1,000-1,250 word research design containing the following items:
1. Research question
a. Explain how the wider research problem evolves into a workable
research question.
b. Explain the relevance of the research question in relation to the
existing academic literature.
c. Reflect on the type of research question (see readings Toshkov and
Menken & Keestra) you have selected.
2. Theories and/or concepts
a. Identify what theory(-ies) or concept(s) you have chosen to analyze
your research question.
b. Reflect upon why these theories or concepts are relevant for
answering your research question.
c. Explain the specific role theory or concepts play in your research (see
readings Toshkov).
3. Operationalization
a. Describe how your theoretical or conceptual framework can be
operationalized into concrete components.
4. Additional requirements
a. The research design is well written.
b. The research design follows APA. [see the writing guide on student
portal]
c. The research design contains a list of relevant academic literature and
potentially other sources for this research project.
Receiving a fail on any of these four criteria will automatically mean that you will fail
the assessment. In this case you can participate in the re-sit (deadline 11 April, more
information to be provided later).
The overall score will be an excellent if you receive an excellent on minimum three
out of the four assessment criteria.
The final assignment needs to submitted before 31 January at 16.00 via safe assign
on student portal.
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
9
Table 1: Overview of the four assessment criteria
Fail Pass Excellent
Research question The research
question is weak, its
relevance is not
explained and there
is no reflection on
the type of question
The research
question is
sufficient, the
relevance is
addressed and there
is reflection on the
type of research
question
The research
question is very
clear, the relevance
well explained and
convincing, and
there is clear
reflection on the
type of research
question
Theories and concepts The identified
theories or concepts
do not match the
research question,
and it is
insufficiently
explained why these
are relevant and
what role they play
in the research
The identified
theories or concepts
match the research
question, and it is
sufficiently explained
why these are
relevant and what
role they play in the
research
The identified
theories or concepts
match the research
question, and it is
very clearly
explained why these
are relevant and
what role they play
in the research
Operationalization The description of
how the theoretical
or conceptual
framework can be
applied is weak and
cannot be directly
applied
The description of
how the theoretical
or conceptual
framework can be
applied is sufficient,
but would require
further work in
order to be applied
The description of
how the theoretical
or conceptual
framework can be
applied is very clear
and can be applied
immediately
Additional requirements The level of
academic English is
weak, APA is not
applied, and sources
are not provided
The level of
academic English is
adequate, APA is
applied, and sources
(relevant academic
literature) are
provided
The level of
academic English is
very good, APA is
applied, and sources
(relevant academic
literature as well as
suggestions for
sources to be used in
conducting the
research) are
provided
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
10
6. Course team
Coordinator
Esther Versluis (Politics Department)
Office: B2.38 (GG90-92).
Telephone: 043-3882558
Email: e.versluis@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Open office hours: Tuesdays 9.00-10.00
Tutors
Tannelie Blom – blom@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Valentina Carraro – valentina.carraro@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Afke Groen – afke.groen@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Annelies Jacobs – a.jacobs@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Ruud Klomp – r.klomp@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Jasmijn van der Most – j.vandermost@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Nico Randeraad – n.randeraad@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Robin Schormans – r.schormans@maastrichtuniversity.nl
Anke van Wier – a.vanwier@maastrichtuniversity.nl
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
11
SESSIONS & ASSIGNMENTS
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
12
SESSION 1
FROM PUZZLE TO RESEARCH QUESTION IN AN
INTERDISCIPLINARY SETTING
Part 1 of the session
Developing your own research design in an interdisciplinary setting is perhaps more
difficult than in a disciplinary setting. Several disciplines – for example law,
economics, political science – have clear ‘rules’ about what wider set of theories,
concepts or methods one can choose from in order to address specific research
questions. As the types of puzzles we are dealing with in European Studies often
cross the boundaries of disciplines – real-life problems at the European level simply
are too complex to tackle via single-disciplinary analysis – they often require an
interdisciplinary approach. In the first part of this session, we discuss the impact of
the interdisciplinary context in which we conduct research on the type of research
design we formulate.
Part 2 of the session
Good research starts with a well-formulated question. Without this question, any
research project is doomed to fail. It is the research question that determines what
research design is required in order to be able to answer this question. Different
types of research questions necessitate different types of research designs. A
descriptive question needs to be addressed differently than an explanatory question.
While we can all easily think of interesting research puzzles to analyse, the exercise
becomes more difficult when we need to turn a broader research puzzle into a
workable research question. In this course, we will work with research puzzles that
have a prominent place in the elective substantive module you are currently taking.
Please consider the broader puzzles identified below, and brainstorm how these
could be formulated into workable research questions.
Tuesday’s lecture will cover the introduction to the skills course, explain its rationale and
assessment format, and discuss what makes a good research question by providing tips and
tricks that will help you formulate your own research questions better.
Before the start of session 1 on Friday 12 January, read:
Menken, S. and M. Keestra (eds.) (2016) An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research.
Theory and Practice, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
– Part 1 – The Handbook – ‘The What’, pp.13-40.
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
13
Placing Europe – research puzzles
1. Maastricht University has attracted students from many different European,
and even non-European countries. One can assume that the presence of
these newcomers must have had a profound effect on the city of Maastricht
as a place. Please develop a research question on the ways in which meanings
of place are negotiated and contested between students and other Maastricht
residents.
2. The Euregion Maas-Rhine was established in 1976. It is meant to coordinate
trans-border activities, and thereby to facilitate regional economy. At the
same time, such regional projects are meant to promote a common identity,
and thereby to strengthen the ties between European countries. Please
develop a research question for a project in which you discuss the political
and/or cultural conditions and consequences of the process of building such
a region.
International Relations – research puzzles
1. International Organizations and International Regimes are bringing states
closer together than even before. Nowadays they regulate almost every
sphere of modern life – from urban air pollution to the spread of nuclear
weapons. Please formulate a research question that touches upon the role of
International Organizations or International Regimes in the international
system.
2. Since the end of WWII we live in a world order clearly defined by Western
values and norms and in which Western powers are capable of influencing
the political and economic developments in the world. However, emerging
powers such as China, Russia, Brazil and India are increasingly challenging
the hegemony of the West. The tension between the old and the emerging
new pole of power is more than evident. Please develop a research question
that enquires in this tension.
Readings to use for assignment 1:
Toshkov, D. (2016) Research Design in Political Science, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
– Chapter 2 – Types of research and research questions, pp. 23-55.
Menken, S. and M. Keestra (eds.) (2016) An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research.
Theory and Practice, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
– Part 2 – The Manual – ‘The How’, pp.51-67.
Previous reading you might want to look up again (see the course Introduction to
academic research and writing):
Booth, W.C., Colomb, G.G., and J.M. Williams (2008) The Craft of Research, Chicago:
The University of Chicago Press.
– Chapter 3 – From topics to questions, pp.35-50.
– Chapter 4 – From questions to a problem, pp.51-67.
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
14
Assignment 1:
To be submitted during tutorial 2 (bring to class 2 paper copies: 1 for your tutor and 1 to discuss
with your fellow students):
 Select one of the identified research puzzles from the elective course you are
currently following: International Relations or Placing Europe.
 Select 5-10 relevant sources that address this broader research puzzle (start
with your course readings, but feel free to search for additional possibilities).
 Provide a first draft of a research question, indicating what type of question
this is (based on the readings by Toshkov and Menken & Keestra), and
include an explanation of why this research question is relevant to the puzzle.
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
15
SESSION 2
THE ROLE OF THEORIES AND CONCEPTS
During the first part of the tutorial we will, via peer-feedback, discuss your first
assignment, and evaluate and compare the various research questions.
The second half of the tutorial will concentrate on the role of theories and concepts
in the development of your research design. Once you have decided on a draft
research question, and thus know what type of research you want to embark upon –
purely theoretical or empirical; prescriptive, predictive or explanatory – you need to
determine how to analyze this specific question via that theoretical/conceptual lens.
Stoker (1995: 16-17) neatly explains why we need theory (or concepts for that
matter):
“theory helps us to see the wood for the trees. Good theories select out
certain factors as the most important or relevant if one is interested in
providing an explanation of an event. Without such a sifting process no
effective observation can take place. The observer would be buried under a
pile of detail and be unable to weigh the influence of different factors in
explaining an event. Theories are of value precisely because they structure all
observations.”
What theories or concepts seem relevant for the research questions you have
discussed before? Do different types of questions call for different types of theories
or concepts? And what actually is the difference between a theory and a concept, and
which would you use when?
Readings to use for assignment 2:
Toshkov, D. (2016) Research Design in Political Science, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
– Chapter 3 – Theory in the research process, pp. 56-82 [possible to exclude
pp.67-77; section ‘Developing explanatory theory’].
Menken, S. and M. Keestra (eds.) (2016) An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research.
Theory and Practice, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
– Part 2 – The Manual – ‘The How’, pp. 68-88.
Tuesday’s lecture will cover the importance and relevance of using theories and concepts in
academic research projects. Why do we actually use theories and concepts, and how can I
apply them in my own research projects?
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
16
Assignment 2:
To be submitted during tutorial 3 (bring to class 2 paper copies: 1 for your tutor and 1 to discuss
with your fellow students):
 Identify which theory(-ies) or concept(s) are relevant for analyzing your
research question.
 Reflect on what specific role your theoretical or conceptual approach has in
your research project (based on the readings by Toshkov and Menken &
Keestra), and include an explanation of why these theories or concepts are
relevant.
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
17
SESSION 3
OPERATIONALIZATION
Tuesday’s lecture will cover operationalization; i.e. the step in your research design that helps
you to translate your abstract theories and concepts into measurable parts. We will actively
work on specific examples to help you train yourself in this exercise and prepare for your
examination in this course.
During the first part of the session we will, via peer-review, discuss your second
assignment, and evaluate and compare the various proposed theories and concepts.
What theory or concept did you choose and why? Why do you consider this
approach the best suited to analyze your research question?
During the second part of the session, you will work in pairs to discuss how the
identified theories and concepts could potentially be operationalized. Theories and
concepts never stand on their own, and a very common pitfall of academic research
is a theoretical or conceptual framework that is not clearly linked to the research
question and/or to the empirical part of the research. To make sure we actually use
the relevant theories and concepts, and put them to use in analyzing our collected
(empirical) sources, we need the step of ‘operationalization’. Operationalization is
nothing more than the process of defining the measurement of a phenomenon that
is not directly measurable. Many of the theories and concepts that we use are
relatively abstract or fuzzy; operationalization is the activity of translating these
abstract terms into measurable observations. What could be clear indicators or
measures for your identified theories or concepts?
What’s next?
After this last meeting, you should have all ingredients you need to decide on the first
crucial steps of your research design:
 how to go from broader puzzle to concrete research question;
 how to analyze your question based on theories or concepts;
 how to operationalize your theories or concepts into measurable
components.
The key final step missing from completing your research design, is the question of
how to approach your research methodologically. The key step of operationalizing
your theoretical or conceptual framework is not complete without identifying how –
i.e. using what sources, and analyzing them via what methodology – you will conduct
the analysis. As stated in the introduction to this course manual, this step of
determining the right methodological approach for your research question will be
core to the skills courses in period 4 (Introduction to qualitative methods) and 5
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
18
(Introduction to quantitative methods) of this year, as well as to the elective skills courses
of year 3.
Now you are ready to complete your final assignment for this skills course. Please see
section 5 of the introduction on p.8-9 for more information.
Further readings to use for operationalization (in your final assignment):
Toshkov, D. (2016) Research Design in Political Science, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
– Chapter 4 – Concepts and operationalization, pp. 83-106.
Menken, S. and M. Keestra (eds.) (2016) An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research.
Theory and Practice, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
– Part 2 – The Manual – ‘The How’, pp. 89-95.
BA European Studies Developing Your Own Research Design Year 2 / Period 3
19
ANNEXES
Annex I: Overview skills trajectory
Welcome
at Maastricht University
Developing your own research design
Course introduction + research questions
Esther Versluis
What is the course about?
• How to conduct research in an
interdisciplinary context?
• How to develop a strong research
design?
– How to formulate a good research
question?
– How to work with theory and concepts?
– How to operationalize your theoretical
framework?
Course objectives
• At the end of this skills course you will have
learned to:
– Understand the differences between different
types of research questions and formulate a
relevant research question for the broader
puzzle at hand
– Select a relevant theoretical or conceptual
framework
– Operationalize this framework
– Explain and justify the various choices you make
in the research design
Place in the skills trajectory
How hard can it be?
• What’s the fuss about?
• Mind you: having a well-developed
research design might be half of the
work you need!
• Developing our own research design
for Analyzing the European policy
process; it was a nightmare…
Some tips
• Participate and make the
assignments! It can save you a lot of
time and frustration for the final
assignment.
• Reading for next time!
– Menken & Keestra (2016), pp.13-40
– Available as e-book
Any questions on the content /
organization of this skills course?
What makes a good research question
in interdisciplinary research?
Why this topic now?
I have written several
papers already…
… why do we cover this
topic now?
Defining the wider problem / puzzle
• First step of any research project
• In this course the puzzles are given
• When working on later projects (e.g. BA
thesis), remember tips from Booth et al. &
Toshkov
– Start with what interests you, and do initial
research
– Avoid the ‘big questions’, keep it small
– Be aware of the pitfalls of topical issues
Research as a lineair process?
• Developing a research question is
always work in progress
• Your question needs to be refined and
adjusted during the process,
according to new insights
• Often start broad, and then narrow
down
The process of narrowing down
(based on Buis et al (2016) Academic skills for interdisciplinary
studies. Amsterdam University Press, p.40)
Question Delimiting the question
What impact does the agrarian sector
have on the environment?
What does ‘agrarian sector’
mean?
What impact does stockbreeding have
on the environment?
What does ‘stockbreeding’
mean?
What impact does large-scale dairy
farming have on the environment?
Where could this take
place?
What impact does large-scale dairy
farming in the Netherlands have on the
environment?
What does ‘the
environment’ mean?
What impact does large-scale dairy
farming in the Netherlands have on
greenhouse gas emissions?
Example of a welldelimited
question
What makes a good question?
• Menken & Keestra (pp.66-67)
–Relevant (so what?)
– Anchored
–Researchable
– Precise
What makes a good question?
• Toshkov (pp.51-54)
– Avoid posing factual questions that can be
answered by a google search
– Avoid long/broad questions
– Avoid composite questions
– Avoid questions that already contain implicit
answers or a normative stance
– In sum: keep them simple, short, precise and
open-ended + rooted in the existing literature
What do you think of this question?
• What European countries had colonies
in Africa?
Example of a too factual question
• What European countries had colonies
in Africa?
Could be turned into
• What was the impact of colonization
on African people?
What do you think of this question?
• What is the effect of global warming
on the environment?
Example of a too broad question
• What is the effect of global warming
on the environment?
Could be turned into
• How is glacial melting affecting
penguins in the Arctic Circle?
What do you think of this question?
• How can we explain the outcome of
the Brexit referendum, and what
impact does it have on European
integration?
Example of a composite question
• How can we explain the outcome of
the Brexit referendum, and what
impact does it have on European
integration?
Could be turned into
• Either of the two! As long as you
make a choice what is the main aim
What do you think of this question?
• Why are social networking sites
harmful?
Example of a too normative question
• Why are social networking sites
harmful?
Could be turned into
• How are online users experiencing
privacy issues on social networking
sites as Facebook?
Different types of questions
Type of
question
What do you do? Example
Comparative Compare two or more
research elements with
each other
What are the
differences between
X and Y?
Descriptive Trying to understand a
past or present situation
What is X?
Explanatory Trying to discover the
relationship between two
or more variables
Why does X happen?
How does X lead to
Y?
Predictive Trying to understand a
future situation
What will be the
impact of …?
https://app.gosoapbox.com/
766-923-386
US and North Korean relations influence
EU foreign policy.
How can this broader topic be approached
from different disciplinary perspectives,
and via different types of questions?
https://app.gosoapbox.com/event/
Welcome
at Maastricht University
Developing your own research design
Course introduction + research questions
Esther Versluis
What is the course about?
• How to conduct research in an
interdisciplinary context?
• How to develop a strong research
design?
– How to formulate a good research
question?
– How to work with theory and concepts?
– How to operationalize your theoretical
framework?
Course objectives
• At the end of this skills course you will have
learned to:
– Understand the differences between different
types of research questions and formulate a
relevant research question for the broader
puzzle at hand
– Select a relevant theoretical or conceptual
framework
– Operationalize this framework
– Explain and justify the various choices you make
in the research design
Place in the skills trajectory
How hard can it be?
• What’s the fuss about?
• Mind you: having a well-developed
research design might be half of the
work you need!
• Developing our own research design
for Analyzing the European policy
process; it was a nightmare…
Some tips
• Participate and make the
assignments! It can save you a lot of
time and frustration for the final
assignment.
• Reading for next time!
– Menken & Keestra (2016), pp.13-40
– Available as e-book
Any questions on the content /
organization of this skills course?
What makes a good research question
in interdisciplinary research?
Why this topic now?
I have written several
papers already…
… why do we cover this
topic now?
Defining the wider problem / puzzle
• First step of any research project
• In this course the puzzles are given
• When working on later projects (e.g. BA
thesis), remember tips from Booth et al. &
Toshkov
– Start with what interests you, and do initial
research
– Avoid the ‘big questions’, keep it small
– Be aware of the pitfalls of topical issues
Research as a lineair process?
• Developing a research question is
always work in progress
• Your question needs to be refined and
adjusted during the process,
according to new insights
• Often start broad, and then narrow
down
The process of narrowing down
(based on Buis et al (2016) Academic skills for interdisciplinary
studies. Amsterdam University Press, p.40)
Question Delimiting the question
What impact does the agrarian sector
have on the environment?
What does ‘agrarian sector’
mean?
What impact does stockbreeding have
on the environment?
What does ‘stockbreeding’
mean?
What impact does large-scale dairy
farming have on the environment?
Where could this take
place?
What impact does large-scale dairy
farming in the Netherlands have on the
environment?
What does ‘the
environment’ mean?
What impact does large-scale dairy
farming in the Netherlands have on
greenhouse gas emissions?
Example of a welldelimited
question
What makes a good question?
• Menken & Keestra (pp.66-67)
–Relevant (so what?)
– Anchored
–Researchable
– Precise
What makes a good question?
• Toshkov (pp.51-54)
– Avoid posing factual questions that can be
answered by a google search
– Avoid long/broad questions
– Avoid composite questions
– Avoid questions that already contain implicit
answers or a normative stance
– In sum: keep them simple, short, precise and
open-ended + rooted in the existing literature
What do you think of this question?
• What European countries had colonies
in Africa?
Example of a too factual question
• What European countries had colonies
in Africa?
Could be turned into
• What was the impact of colonization
on African people?
What do you think of this question?
• What is the effect of global warming
on the environment?
Example of a too broad question
• What is the effect of global warming
on the environment?
Could be turned into
• How is glacial melting affecting
penguins in the Arctic Circle?
What do you think of this question?
• How can we explain the outcome of
the Brexit referendum, and what
impact does it have on European
integration?
Example of a composite question
• How can we explain the outcome of
the Brexit referendum, and what
impact does it have on European
integration?
Could be turned into
• Either of the two! As long as you
make a choice what is the main aim
What do you think of this question?
• Why are social networking sites
harmful?
Example of a too normative question
• Why are social networking sites
harmful?
Could be turned into
• How are online users experiencing
privacy issues on social networking
sites as Facebook?
Different types of questions
Type of
question
What do you do? Example
Comparative Compare two or more
research elements with
each other
What are the
differences between
X and Y?
Descriptive Trying to understand a
past or present situation
What is X?
Explanatory Trying to discover the
relationship between two
or more variables
Why does X happen?
How does X lead to
Y?
Predictive Trying to understand a
future situation
What will be the
impact of …?
https://app.gosoapbox.com/
766-923-386
US and North Korean relations influence
EU foreign policy.
How can this broader topic be approached
from different disciplinary perspectives,
and via different types of questions?
https://app.gosoapbox.com/event/

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

GET A 40% DISCOUNT ON YOU FIRST ORDER

ORDER NOW DISCOUNT CODE >>>> WELCOME40

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized