This lecture provides an overview of the most-used and relevant research strategies, research designs, data-collection methods and methods of data-analysis in the political sciences, and more specifically in the research field of International Relations.
This course prepares students, that do not have a background in the social sciences, to structure their research design and write their master thesis. To this end, the trajectory of this course as well as the grading is closely aligned to the trajectory of the master thesis in the first semester.
This course helps students with the research design for their master thesis. In the lessons students will deal with the following aspects of the research process:
Formulating a research problem and research questions,
Making a literature study, constructing a theoretical framework and drafting hypotheses,
Conceptualizing central concepts,
Operationalizing the central concepts and the design of the evaluation criteria and/or measure indicators.
Selection of (a) case(s)
Quantitative data-collection and analysis methods,
Qualitative data-collection and analysis methods,
Presenting the empirics in such way that they can be mirrored to the drawn-up hypotheses.
During the lectures there is the possibility that assignments are announced which the students have to do as a preparation for the next meetings. It is therefore expected that all students are present during all meetings. If you cannot be present at one of the meetings, you have to notify the lecturer beforehand. You are only allowed to not be present at one of the sessions if you have a valid reason.
In the first semester every student works on and hands-in two assignments:
The first assignment, ‘the starting paper’, has to be handed in on the 6th of November (2 pages). In this assignment the student defines the main theme of their research, formulates some research questions, comes up with possible answers to these research questions and provides a first draft of the research design. Feedback will be given on the assignment. Before the 27th of November the student eventually has to upload the final outline of the research proposal for the master thesis via blackboard; off course after consult with the supervisor.
The second assignment, ‘the research-design paper’, is written in collaboration with the supervisor. In this paper, the student defines the exact research question, elaborates on the theoretical framework, drafts some hypotheses , specifies the central concepts, gives a motivation for the chosen research design, makes clear which method of data collection and data analysis will be used, provides an exact planning of the research process and delivers a structural outline of the master thesis. A first draft of this paper has to be handed in via blackboard to the lecturer by the 26st of November. Subsequently, a feedback session will be organized where the students have to present their work. During this feedback session each student gets advice on his or her work by both the lecturer as well as the fellow students. After this feedback session, the student can refine the ‘research design’ paper in concert with the supervisor. The final version of the assignment eventually has to be hand in on the 8th of January via Blackboard. This final version is then graded by the lecturer.
In February the students receive the grades of their research design paper.
More information on the requirements and evaluation criteria of the master thesis as well as the procedure of the master thesis process, can be found in instruction booklet (of which the title is ‘Leidraad bij het schrijven van de Masterproef Internationale Betrekkingen en Diplomatie’) that is available in the [e-valven] and on Blackboard.
The deadline for uploading the master thesis for the first term will be communicated in a later stage.
The deadline for uploading the master thesis for the second term will be communicated in a later stage.