Research Methods II

Course Code :3001IOBRM2
Study domain:Development Aid
Academic year:2016-2017
Semester:1st semester
Contact hours:50
Study load (hours):168
Contract restrictions: No contract restriction
Language of instruction:English
Exam period:exam in the 1st semester
Lecturer(s)German Calfat
Johan Bastiaensen
Bert Ingelaere
Stef Vandeginste
Kristof Titeca
Dennis Essers
Klara Claessens
Loresel Abainza
Mollie Gleiberman
Sahawal Alidou
Neil Howard

3. Course contents *

Course structure

Research Methods II consists of eight units each covering a different mix of quantitative or qualitative research methods. Students must obtain 6 credits by taking one, two or three of the seven units on offer. Their choice of units may be based on previous knowledge, skills, interests and future research plans. All combinations are permitted.

Quantitative Units

  • Unit 1: Working with Data (1.5 ECTS)
  • Unit 2: Regression Analysis and Inference  (3 ECTS)

Qualitative Units

  • Unit 3: Qualitative fieldwork and data collection (1.5 ECTS)
  • Unit 4: Participatory Research and Development Methods (3  ECTS) 
  • Unit 5: Multi-Actor Processes in Development: Negotiation, Collaboration and Mediation (1.5 ECTS)
  • Unit 6: Analysing Text and Discourse in Development (1.5 ECTS)

Mobility Window (conditional upon selection process!)

  • Unit 7: Research Internship at UCA (Nicaragua) (6 ECTS)


Content description per unit

Unit 1: Working with Data

Working with Data is a practically-oriented, hands-on course that teaches students how to work with real-life datasets. Each session combines a short theoretical introduction with independent work on a number of short computer-based exercises in Excel Students will have to submit the responses to the exercises of the four sessions in a report which includes a written step by step explanation of the calculations they undertook to find their answer.

The course deals with micro-level data organized in four sessions. Successively, students will learn how to handle, clean and explore a large personalised household expenditure dataset in Excel; how to construct various wealth indicators; how to calculate and graphically represent poverty and inequality measures; and how to design poverty profiles by means of simple cross-tabulations. Throughout the exercises, students will be asked to concisely report and evaluate their findings, using insights from their professional backgrounds.

Unit 2: Regression Analysis and Inference

The course examines the concept of simple linear regression and correlation. It explains the concepts of inference, the normal distribution and other continuous and discrete distributions. Aspects of statistical inference for properly estimating parameters, predicting outcomes and testing hypothesis, given the characteristics of the data, are introduced. The course deals with partial regression, the interpretation of multiple regression coefficients and the detection of model violations through regression diagnostic techniques. It also introduces students to nonlinear relationships and the notion of heteroscedasticity. The course emphasizes the simultaneous use of regression and graphs to provide compact numerical summaries, to check and enhance results by using visual displays of the data. 

Unit 3: Qualitative fieldwork and data collection

The objective of this unit is to familiarize students with the nature of qualitative interviewing and its organization through fieldwork. The unit is constructed around the central idea of qualitative data collection through fieldwork and interviews  This unit is practically oriented and provides insight into the organization of fieldwork and into interview methods for collecting qualitative data.  The focus is on qualitative fieldwork and interviewing.

Unit 4: Participatory Research and Development Methods

This unit first provides an introduction to the origins and principles of the participatory approach to development (in particular Participatory Rural Appraisal). Second, it  introduces some common practical tools and instruments of participatory research and development planning. Next, a concrete case-study of participatory planning will be presented and discussed. Fourth, during a simulation game, students will participate in a participatory poverty assessment. Finally, the unit presents an analysis of criticism of the participatory approach from different perspectives (including some personal experiences from the simulation game) and proposals for improvements in participatory methods and approaches.

Unit 4 is highly recommended for students taking ‘Local Institutions and Poverty Reduction’ in Module III.  

Unit 5: Multi-Actor Processes in Development: Negotiation, Collaboration and Mediation

Students first receive some theoretical and conceptual background through the introduction of key issues (power, conflict, collaboration, mediation, etc.). Next, they actively participate in  multi-actor processes in a simulated development context, applying the theories introduced in the first session. They critically reflect upon and exchange about their own learning experience as actors. The class is intended to develop an insight into complex negotiations, collaboration and mediation in the context of development.

Unit 6: Analysing Text and Discourse in Development

The unit offers a theoretical and policy-oriented introduction to text and discourse analysis. Students are familiarized with the power of words through practical examples. They understand the importance of framing in a development context. They apply discourse analysis techniques to real life examples.

Unit 7: Research Internship at UCA (Nicaragua)

The research internship at UCA (Nicaragua) mainly entails the participation in on-going research activities of different research institutes and faculties of the UCA, which focus on the following themes: Value chains; Payment for Ecosystem Services; Extractivism and social movements; Micro-finance; Territorial development and Cooperativism. At the beginning of the mobility period, UCA will organize one or several short introductory sessions on the research themes proposed, methodological issues and administrative and logistics aspects.

This Unit will consist of 6 specific research internship proposals independent from each other that will be proposed to IOB students willing to participate in the MW (see preliminary description in Mobility Window information folder). On successful completion of one research internship students obtain 6 ECTS credits.