SemesterFall Semester, 2023
DepartmentMA Program of Political Science, First Year PhD Program of Political Science, First Year MA Program of Political Science, Second Year PhD Program of Political Science, Second Year
Course NameResearch Methods for the Social Sciences
Course TypeElective
Course Objective
Course Description
Course Schedule

Topic One: The Natural of Social Sciences

Week 1: Overall Introduction of the Class   

Introducing the Course (handing out the syllabus, explaining the rules and requirements) and Participants, and Housekeeping.


Week 2: Mainstream Social Science

Bernstein, Richard, 1978. The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory. Philadelphia, PA: U. of Penn Press, pp. xi-53.

Longino, Helen. 1990. Science as Social Knowledge. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 3-102.


Week 3: Thinking in Systems

Sterman, 2001. Systems Dynamics Modeling: Tools for Learning in a Complex World. California Management Review, 43 (4): 8-25. (PDF)


Week 4: Interpretative Approach

Bernstein, Richard, 1978. The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory. Philadelphia, PA: U. of Penn Press, pp 55-169.

Ragin, Charles, 2008. Redesigning Social Inquiry. Chicago, MI: Chicago.


Week 5: Critical Theory

Bernstein, Richard, 1978. The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory. Philadelphia, PA: U. of Penn Press, pp. 170-236.

Fay, Brian, 1987. Critical social science: liberation and its limits. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.


Week 6: Paradigm, Model, Theory

Kuhn, Thomas S., 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lakatos, Imre, “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes” (PDF)

Assignment One: Presentation of Research Ideas


Topic Two: Research Design

Week 7: Choices of Approaches and Methods

Levitt, Steven D. and Stephen J. Dubner, 2006. Freakonomics: a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. New York: William Morrow. (PDF)

Silbey, Susan. “Designing Qualitative Research.” (PDF)

Collier, David. 1995 "Translating Quantitative Methods for Qualitative Researchers: The Case of Selection Bias," American Political Science Review 89 (2): 461-467. (PDF)


Week 8: Research Design--Theories, Causation, Mechanisms

King, Gary, Robert Keohane, and Sidney Verba, 1994. Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Abbott, Andrew, 1995. "Sequence Analysis," Annual Review of Sociology 21: 93-113. (PDF)

Geddes, Barbara, 1990. "How the Cases You Choose Affect the Answers You Get: Selection Bias in Comparative Politics," Political Analysis 2: 131-50. (PDF)


Topic Three: Major Approaches of Methodology

Week 9: Structural Inquiry

Babbie, E.R., 2010. The Practice of Social Research. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning Customer & Sales Support. Chapter 4-7, 9. (PDF)


Week 10 Case Study, Multiple Cases and Comparative Study

Yin, Robert. 2004. Case Study Methods, draft. (PDF)

Gerring, John, 2004. "What Is a Case Study and What Is it Good for?" American Political Science Review 98 (2): 341-54. (PDF)

Gerring, John, 2007. Case Study Research Principles and Practices. (PDF)

Ragin, C. and D. Zaret, 1983. "Theory and Method in Comparative Research: Two Strategies," Social Forces 61(3): 731-55. (PDF)

Dion, Evidence and Inference in the Comparative Case Study (PDF)


Week 11: Other Methods, Experiment, Action Research, Mixed

Babbie, E.R., 2010. The Practice of Social Research. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning Customer & Sales Support. Chapter 8, 10. (PDF)

Corbin and Strauss, 1990. Grounded Theory (PDF)

Lustick, Ian S., 1996. “History, Historiography, and Political Science: Multiple Historical Records and the Problem of Selection Bias,” The American Political Science Review 90 (3): 605-618. (PDF)

Avison, D., F. Lau, M. Myers, and P. Nielsen, 1999. “Action Research,” Communications of the ACM 42 (1): 94-97. (PDF)

Assignment Two—Statements on Research Design and Theoretical Discourse


Topic Four: Methods in Field Work

Week 12: Major Fieldwork Exercises: Observation, Interview, Survey, Participatory Observation, Physical Examination

Becker, Howard S., 1958. “Problems of Inference and Proof in Participant Observation,” American Sociological Review 23 (6): 652-60. (PDF)

Sieber, Sam D., 1973. “The Integration of Fieldwork and Survey Methods,” American Journal of Sociology 78: 1335-59. (PDF)

Berg, Bruce L., 2009. “Focus Group Interviewing,” in Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. (PDF)

Emerson, Robert M., Rachel I. Fretz, Linda L. Shaw, 2011. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. University of Chicago Press.


Week 13: Field Practices: Ethics Codes, Validity Check, and Critiques

Guion, Lisa, 2002, “Triangulation: Establishing the Validity of Qualitative Studies.” (PDF)

Leeson, Jamie, Ewick, and Silbey, “Coded Transcript.” (PDF)

Pawson, Ray, 1996. "Theorizing the Interview," British Journal of Sociology 47: 295-314. (PDF)

Adcock, Robert and David Collier, 2001. "Measurement Validity: A Shared Standard for Qualitative and Quantitative Research." American Political Science Review 95 (3): 529-46. (PDF)

Kirk, Jerome, and Marc Miller, 1986. Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 9-52.

Ryan, Coughlan, and Cronin, 2007. “Step-by-step Guide to Critiquing Research, Part 2 Qualitative Research.” British Journal of Nursing 16 (12): 738-44. (PDF)

Silbey, Susan, “Conversational Interviewing Techniques.”(PDF)


Week 14: Field Trip and Mid-term


Topic Five: Analyzing and Wrapping-up

Week 15: Data Analysis in the Big-Data Era  

Babbie, E.R., 2010. The Practice of Social Research. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning Customer & Sales Support. Chapter 13-16. (PDF)


Week 16: Writing Style and Format

Williams, Joseph M., 1990. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Frank, Chiyoko Kobayashi, 2010. Cultural and Linguistic Influence on Developmental Neural Basis of Theory of Mind: Whorfian Hypothesis Revisited. New York, NY: Nova Science.


Week 17 and 18: Fieldwork for Term Paper 

To finish your final report you need to carry out your research in the field and collect sufficient evidence to support your argument.  You need to prepare a PPT to demonstrate your research in a multimedia format and send to the line group for feedbacks. You also need to hand in a sentence-by-sentence write-up to demonstrate rigid analysis and argumentation by incorporating suggestions and defend the criticisms before handing in by the end of the semester.

Assignment Three—Term Paper Presentation and Critics

Teaching Methods
Teaching Assistant



1. Class Attendance and Active Participation and Assignments (40%):

All students are required to attend each class meeting, and be ready to discuss the reading materials and major issues with others. This course will be taught in a diagnostic mode in which students’ own works will be put under examination in the class, the discussion demands basic politeness and courtesy.

2. Field Trip Report (20%)

A field trip will be arranged in the middle of the semester. Specific empirical data will be assigned to be collected in the trip and reported right after the trip. Classmates will conduct the investigation in a group of 3 members.

3. Final Paper (40%):

By the end of the semester, students have to hand in a research result that has the potential to be published in professional journals in the future.  The final write-up needs to include research interests, theoretical framework (with literature review), propositions or proposed arguments, methods to collect empirical evidence, and a preliminary survey, and a conclusion.  This proposal needs to be presented in front of all classmates in 15 minutes, and take critics and advice from the audience for at least 5 minutes.  Reference needs to be carefully documented, and all academic ethics faithfully followed.

Textbook & Reference
Urls about Course