Research methods for analyzing complex problems


Doel vak

The objectives of this course are:


- To understand the differences between beta- and gamma research;
- To acquire insight in and understanding of a real world research
process, including knowledge of the character of complex societal issues
and the needs, advantages and disadvantages of real world research;
- To acquire insight relevant research methods (both quantitative and
qualitative) to adddress complex societal problems, their underlying
theoretical concepts and their relative
strengths and weaknesses;
- Being able to apply these various research methods in a specific
societal context;
- To interpret quantitative and qualitative findings;
- Being able to create an adequate research design for the investigation
of a specific complex societal problem.

Inhoud vak

Contemporary societies increasingly face complex social problems, such
as climate change, HIV/ AIDS or ethnic and religious diversity. These
complex problems involve a variety of social actors: policy-makers,
professionals, NGOs, industries, science and, of course, the public at
large. Addressing these complex issues demands an approach that
investigates, analyzes and integrates the positions and knowledge of
different actors.

This course offers an (advanced) introduction to various research
methods used in real world research, including questionnaires,
surveys, semi-structured
interviews, and focus groups. These methods are commonly used in
research into complex problem contexts, communication and opportunities
for intervention. Strengths and weaknesses of each research method and
technique will be discussed, as well as its possibility to be applied in
different societal contexts.

Onderwijsvorm

Research Methods for Analyzing Complex Problems is a parttime course of
eight weeks (6 ECTS). The total study time is 160 hours. Tuition methods
include lectures, workgroups, workshops, group project work and
self-study.

The different elements have the following study time:
- lectures 20 hours
- workgroups and training 36 hours
- examination 3 hours
- project work & reading (self-study) Remaining hours

Please note that attendance to the workgroup sessions is compulsory. If
you miss one workgroup, with a good reason, you will receive an
additional assignment. If you miss more than one workgroup session it is
no longer possible to pass the project part of the course.

Attendance to the lectures is highly recommended. In our experience,
relying on self-study alone is insufficient to apply the theory of the
lectures in the assignments of the workgroups, and to pass the exam.

Toetsvorm

The course grade is based on the group assignment 'research design' and
the exam. Both aspects need to be graded 6.0 or higher.
Exam 50% of total grade
Group assignment 'research design' 50% of total grade

Literatuur

The literature of this course consists of selected scientific articles
that are provided on Canvas, and the books:
- Verschuren, D.E. and Doorewaard, H. (2010). Designing a Research
Project
(2nd edition)Eleven International Publishing, the Hague. ISBN 978-90-
5931-572-3.
- Gray, D.E. (2014) Doing Research in the Real World (3rd edition)Sage
Publications Ltd, United Kingdom. ISBN 978-1-4462-6019-7

An overview of the literature per lecture will be provided on
Canvas.

Doelgroep

The course ‘Research Methods for Analyzing Complex Problems’ is a
compulsory course for first year master students ‘Management, Policy
Analysis and Entrepreneurship in Health and Life Sciences’. This course
is also a compulsory course within the Science communication- and
Societal differentiations of Health, Life and Natural Sciences Master
programmes. It is an optional course for other Life Sciences Master
program students at the VU University.

Intekenprocedure

VUnet

Overige informatie

Lectures are in English, part of the workgroups are in Dutch. The
assignments are written in English.

Please note that attendance to the workgroup sessions is compulsory. If
you miss one workgroup, with a good reason, you will receive an
additional assignment. If you miss more than one workgroup session it is
no longer possible to pass the project part of the course.

Attendance to the lectures is highly recommended. In our experience,
relying on self-study alone is insufficient to apply the theory of the
lectures in the assignments of the workgroups, and to pass the exam.

Contact:
Durwin Lynch (d.lynch@vu.nl)