Social Research Methods

Course description

This course is design to provide an overview of research methods commonly used by social scientists. We will explore a range of approaches to empirical social research used in Sociology. We will gain experience in formulating a research question, developing a research design, generating and analyzing data, and presenting your results. Successful completion of this course will help students to make linkages between empirical data and theoretical concepts and develop appropriate research designs and instruments to answer sociological questions.

Course Objectives

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the fundamental theoretical and methodological differences between quantitative and qualitative research designs.
  • Develop research questions and select appropriate research methods to address them.
  • Evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of different research designs.
  • Articulate the ethical and political issues surrounding social science research.
  • Use theoretically informed social research methods as tools for future research.
  • Analyze quantitative data using basic statistics and statistical software.
  • Develop and defend a research proposal.


Date Topic
Week 1 Introduction to course
Paradigms, Theory, and Social Research
Week 2 Theory, strategies and questions
Literature review
Week 3 Concepts and operationalization
Measurement levels, reliability, and validity
Week 4 Recruiting/Sampling research participants
Criteria for causal explanations
Week 5 Research ethics and IRB
Research design
Week 6 Survey research
Cleaning and recoding data: introduction of STATA
Week 7 Secondary data sources
Qualitative research overview
Week 8 Interview
Observational field research
Week 9 Intro to qualitative data analysis
Content analysis
Week 10 Experiments and evaluation research
Writing research paper


  • Babbie, Earl R. (2015). The Practice of Social Research. 14th edition. Cengage Learning, Belmont, California, U.S.A.
  • Additional readings will be posted online.
  • Recommended book
    • Schutt, Russell K. (2011). Investigating the Social World: The Process and Practice of Research. 7th Edition. SAGE Publications, Inc.
Jiao Yu
Jiao Yu
Postdoctoral Associate

Aging and Life Course, Health Disparities, Machining Learning, Quantitative Methods