Research Methods II

Course Code :3001IOBRM2
Study domain:Development Aid
Academic year:2019-2020
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)Johan Bastiaensen
Kristof Titeca
Jean-Francois Maystadt
Nathalie Holvoet
Stef Vandeginste
Bert Ingelaere
Sara Geenen
Lisa Popelier
Catherine Windey
Mollie Gleiberman
Sahawal Alidou
Sarah Vancluysen
Hanne Van Cappellen
Ivan Ashaba
Réginas Ndayiragije
Cassandra Vet
Juan Sebastian Velez Triana
Denis Augustin Samnick

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, three or four of the eight 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: People as informants: collecting qualitative data (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)
    • Unit 7: Qualitative data analysis (1.5 ECTS)
  • Mobility Window (conditional upon selection process!)
    • Unit 8: Research Internship (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 the interpretation of multiple regression coefficients and the detection of model violations through regression diagnostic techniques. It also introduces students to more sophisticated methods such the use of instrumental variables or difference-in-difference estimations. The course emphasizes the intuition beyond the search for causality and will illustrate these techniques with examples from development economics.

Unit 3: People as informants: collecting qualitative data

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. 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 and documentary research methods to real life examples.

Unit 7: Qualitative Data Analysis

In this unit students learn how to organize and analyse qualitative data and how to develop interpretation strategies. They first receive an introduction in the basic principles of qualitative data analysis. They become acquainted with the main steps (from data organization over coding to interpretation) and learn how to make convincing arguments with qualitative data. Next, they become familiar with the process of coding, including through a hands-on exercise. Finally, they actively work with NVivo software for qualitative data analysis in hands-on sessions and an assignment.

Unit 8: Research Internship

At UCA (Nicaragua) – to be confirmed

The research internship at UCA (Nicaragua) will be organised in cooperation with the Institute Nitlapan-UCA. The proposed internship mainly entails the participation in on-going research activities (precise topics to be confirmed). At the beginning of the mobility period, Nitlapan-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. On successful completion of one research internship students obtain 6 ECTS credits.

At Mzumbe University (Tanzania)

The research internship at Mzumbe University (Tanzania) mainly entails the participation in on-going or new research activities within the faculty of Social Sciences and the Institute of Development Studies , which focus (though not exclusively) on the following themes:  service delivery, natural resource governance, gender.  At the beginning of the mobility period, Mzumbe university will organize a short introductory session on the research themes proposed, methodological issues and administrative and logistics aspects.

This Unit will consist of specific research internship proposals independent from each other that will be proposed to IOB students willing to participate in the MW. On successful completion of one research internship students obtain 6 ECTS credits.