Jim Spickard's Courseware Sites

EVST 399 / SOAN 300: Research Methods & Design

 Click HERE to visit the course site for Spring 2019

(I am still updating the handout links after moving this course site;
please check back later if a link does not work.)

Research is a complicated enterprise, but not as complicated as many think.  Designing research projects can be broken down into 6 key steps.  Each of these involves several decisions, both practical and theoretical.  This course covers the basics, at a level suitable for undergraduate majors in environmental studies, sociology, and anthropology.  From the rudiments of epistemology to the practice of research design, it introduces the choices you have to make, as you seek to investigate our world.

We will consider the following topics, among others:

  • the difference between a research topic and a research question, and how to develop your topic into a good question (step 1);
  • how to choose a logical structure for your research (step 2);
  • the relationship between research questions and the types of data that can answer them (step 3);
  • the kinds of data-gathering methods suitable for capturing particular types of data (step 4);
  • the proper choice of research sites or samples for answering your research question (step 5);
  • ways to analyze the data that these methods produce (step 6).

By the end of the course, students should know a good deal more about research than they do at the beginning.  They will also learn a good deal more about scholarship!


(Photo “Rose amid the thorns” © 2003 by Jim Spickard)