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Research in Public Administration


Course description
What makes social science scientific? What’s the different between social science and journalism? What are the goals of social science research? How do we construct research in such a way that it becomes scientific? How do we reduce our ideas into concepts that can be systematically studied? How do we get from idea into something that can be measured in practice? How do we evaluate how good our measures are of the real world? How can we systematically gather data? How do we go about if we can’t gather all relevant data but have to choose to only look at a fraction of reality? What are the techniques available for gathering data? And what are the different ways that we can use to analyze the data we have gathered?

In order to answer these types of questions, the course provides an introduction to social science research. The idea is to develop student skills in social inquiry in a scientific way We will both discuss what social science is and go into more practical techniques for conducting research in practice. Expressed differently, the course introduces students to what can be regarded as the “craft”of their disciplines, i.e. the method and techniques they need to use to study the empirics of public administration through their master studies. We will consider how questions and problems are formulated in social science, and how data can be collected and analyzed. Such skills are invaluable in your subsequent university courses as well in your personal and professional lives as more generally.

Earl Babbie (2010) The Practice of Social Research (hereafter: Babbie), Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 12th edition
ISBN-10: 0495598410
ISBN-13: 978-0495598411

Please notice that this book is sold in paperback and hardcover. Students are advised to buy the (cheaper) paperback book.

Students wishing to consult additional readings can have a look at:
Bob Hancke (2009) Intelligent Research Design, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Thomas Gschwend and Frank Schimmelfennig (2007) Research Design in Political Science, London: Palgrave.

These books distinguish themselves by being more focused on research design and less focused on giving students an introduction to what social science is all about.

Date: 02-11-2010 to 14-12-2010
Time: 20.00-21.30 hrs
Room 403, Lange Houtstraat 5

Exam: 21-12-2010 in Room 404/405
Time: 18.30-21.30 hrs
Re-exam: 17-01-2011 in Room 403 (aula)
Time: 18.30-21.30 hrs