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Research Methods


Admission requirements

No formal prerequisites are set for this course, however some basic knowledge of mathematics and probability theory is assumed.


The course Research Methodology is a practical course that teaches you the basics of performing empirical research. As this is an empirical research course, you will learn how to study phenomena in the real world. After this course you will for example be able to study the effectiveness of a new software technology or to determine the cause of problems in an organisation.

As there is only a limited amount of time available you will only study empirical research methods. In this course you will therefore not study the research methods used in mathematics (i.e. formal research), humanities (i.e. interpretive research) or engineering (i.e. design research).

The inclusion of research methodology is what differentiates your master of science degree from a more practice-oriented master of business administration. But please do not be misled that this course only has academic relevance! Also as a consultant or manager you will need to be able to make sound decisions based on the evidence at hand, which is exactly what you will learn during this course!

During this course you will learn how to plan your study and set your goals (i.e. set your research questions), collect data to gather evidence and finally analyse this data to turn the evidence into answers to your research question.

This course has a focus on the quantitative research paradigm (interpreting the world through measurements and numbers) and the use of statistics to analyse this quantitative data. In later courses during your programme, you will also learn research methods based on the qualitative research paradigm (interpreting the world through rich and complex descriptions) and the usage of methods to analyse this data (e.g. grounded theory1).

Course objectives

After successful participation in this course you should be able to:

  • name and describe the ontological concepts underpinning the enterprise of science and empirical investigations.

  • describe, explain and perform the empirical research process:

  • describe, explain and perform the data collection process

  • explain and perform the data analysis process

  • use a statistical package (in syntax-mode) to apply the statistical procedures named above.


The schedule can be found on the LIACS website

Detailed table of contents can be found in blackboard.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of 6 assemblies of 3 hours. Assemblies consist of 1½ hour lecture and a tutorial to apply concepts in practice.

Assessment method

The final grade will be a combination of:

  • Practical Assignment grade (3/5 of final result)

  • Written Exam grade (2/5 of final result)

Details on the practical assignment will be given at the end of lecture 4 and will subsequently be published on blackboard.
At the beginning of each lecture there will be a pop-quiz. Participation in the pop-quizzes is optional. If you success at obtaining a passing grade for 3 of the pop-quizzes, you will receive ½ point bonus on the written exam, a passing grade for 4 of the pop-quizzes, will give you a ¾ point bonus on the written exam, and a passing grade for 5 of the pop-quizzes, will give you a full (1) point bonus on the written exam. Due to the nature of the pop-quiz, there will not be a possibility to retake one or more pop-quizzes.


Research Methods

Reading list

During the course you will need the following two books:

  • P. Ghauri and K. Grønhuag (2010), Research Methods in Business Studies: A Practical Guide, 4th edition. Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

  • I. Diamond and J. Jefferies (2001), Beginning Statistics: An Introduction for Social Scientists. Sage Publications.

In addition, you will need the following two digital resources:

  • W. N. Venables, D. M. Smith et al. (2008), An Introduction to R – Notes on R: A Programming Environment for Data Analysis and Graphics. R Development Core Team. Download

  • Reader of selected articles and chapters (provided by lecturer on blackboard).

The lecture slides are a part of the required reading for the exams and are placed on the Blackboard site of the course within a week after each lecture.

Signing up for classes and exams

You have to sign up for classes and examinations (including resits) in uSis. Check this link for more information and activity codes.

There is a limited capacity for students from outside the master ICT in Business. Please contact the Programme Co-ordinator.

Contact information

Programme Co-ordinator ms. Judith Havelaar LL.M