Are you looking to learn more about how to conduct scientific research, specifically in an urban or local context? Then you have found the right course: Studying Cities: Social Science Methods for Urban Research by the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), Erasmus University Rotterdam. During the course you will gain more insight in the different steps of the research cycle, and build a firm foundation for your own future research endeavors.
Before any (urban) researcher may start conducting research, it is crucial to understand the different aspects and elements of doing research. The course will guide you through the various steps of the research cycle to provide you with the basic knowledge necessary for any Master-level program, but with a special focus on urban and local development. The course starts with introductory lectures on the problem statement, research objective, empirical cycle and the research question. Over the following weeks you will also learn the components and criteria of the theoretical framework and operationalization, research strategies, and the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. You will be provided with the necessary tools to understand and evaluate these key steps in scientific research by watching video lectures with in-video questions and by completing the final peer review, which will use all the elements you have learnt throughout the course.
-By studying this week’s materials and by answering the related questions and quiz, you will gain a deeper understanding of the need and the criteria for a problem statement, the main components of the research design and how to formulate a good research question. You will learn the different aspects in order to understand these primary steps in conducting research, and be given the tools to evaluate the quality of research questions according to the criteria.
Theoretical Framework and Operationalization
-By studying this week’s materials and by answering the related questions and quiz, you will gain more insight in how operationalization transitions theory to empirical research. You will learn how an empirical researcher creates the transformation from the research question to the conceptual framework, and from the complex concepts of this framework to measurable (unambiguous) indicators. You will also become aware of the most common mistakes inexperienced researchers make in the operationalization.
-By studying this week’s materials and by answering the related questions and quiz, you will gain more knowledge about the possible strategies or approaches in empirical research. The research strategy of any research should be a coherent body of decisions concerning the way in which the researcher is going to carry out the research in order to obtain valid answers to the research questions. The main strategies in social science research will be discussed during this week’s lectures, namely the survey, quasi-experiment, case study and desk research (working with existing large data sets). You will gain basic knowledge on these 4 strategies, and how they link to research questions. By the end of the week you will understand the importance of choosing appropriate methods and techniques in relation to a research question.
Quantitative and Qualitative Data
-By studying this week’s materials and by answering the related questions and quiz, you will gain knowledge on the basics of collecting data. The video lectures will teach you how to deal with primary quantitative data collection (survey) and secondary quantitative data collection (existing large data sets). We’ll continue the week with qualitative data collection, both primary (interviews) and secondary (from existing literature). Therefore you will gain a basic understanding of the data collection for each of the research strategies treated last week.
Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
-By studying this week’s materials and by answering the related questions and quiz, you will gain insight in the analysis of the different types of data. From the point of data collection last week, it is important to understand the various ways to analysis the data. During this week you collect the essential knowledge on data collection that any academic researcher needs. Links to other MOOCs will be shared that can be used to broader your knowledge on specific statistics. The week concludes with the final test, encompassing all you have learned during the course. By passing this final test, you will pass the course.
Dorcas Nthoki, Maria Zwanenburg, Rick Wolff, Jan Fransen and Laura Neijenhuis