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DEGREE REGULATIONS & PROGRAMMES OF STUDY 2016/2017

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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Research Skills in the Social Sciences: Data Collection (PGSP11016)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryData Collection is concerned with the techniques and practices of doing empirical research. This course teaches professional competence in gathering information by talking to people, collecting documents, conducting surveys and observing social interaction. We cover a range of associated issues, including identifying and using different sources; recruiting and negotiating access to research respondents; formulating questions and managing interviews and focus groups; sampling populations and designing surveys; recording observations; research ethics.

PLEASE NOTE that the course provides a basic introduction to key methods of data collection in social and political research. It is a core course for all students taking MSc by Research, MSc Social Research or PhD programmes in SSPS. Students who have taken research methods courses at undergraduate level or on other postgraduate programmes are likely to be exempt from this course, and are recommended to choose more advanced options. Exemptions are made at the discretion of a student's supervisor and/or programme director.
Course description Data Collection is concerned with the techniques and practices of doing empirical research. This course teaches professional competence in gathering information by talking to people, collecting documents, conducting surveys and observing social interaction. We cover a range of associated issues, including identifying and using different sources; recruiting and negotiating access to research respondents; formulating questions and managing interviews and focus groups; sampling populations and designing surveys; recording observations; research ethics.


Outline content

1: Introduction
This session will describe how the course will run, map out course requirements including assessment, discuss the difference between data collection and research design, and give a short history of data collection within the social sciences

2: Using documents
What is a document? What should count as a document in social research, and on what terms? This lecture reviews some of the different kinds of document available to social scientists, how they are used and what they might mean.

3: Visual Media: Photographs
How might photographs act as a tool for data collection? Are photographs 'texts'? Are they any use as ┐evidence┐? We will explore these questions using one particular image from the anthropologist┐s own collection.

4: Interviewing
If you want to find out about something, ask someone who knows. This lecture considers the role and purpose of interviews in data collection, discussing the different ways they might be carried out, and with whom.

5: Focus Groups
The practicalities of focus groups ┐ what they are, their strengths and weaknesses, how you recruit for them and the types of questions you might want to use.

6: Ethnographic Methods
This lecture will cover ethnographic research methods, particularly as applied to studying science and technology, sociology, social policy etc. It will explain the distinctive aims and applications of ethnographic work and suggest ways of talking about what you are doing.

7: The Ethics Of Social Research
Ethics is a horizontal strand running through all of the data collection methods discussed in the course. This lecture will provide an overview of the principles and issues to consider when assessing the ethical dimension of your work as a researcher.

8: Survey Method
The focus here is on understanding how surveys produce knowledge, what they are used for, how to sample respondents or cases, and how to assess their validity.

9: Questionnaire Design
Design principles, including what to include, length and how to increase response rates, as well as detailed illustrations and comments on forms of questions and response formats.

10: Using the Internet for Social Research
This lecture will consider the use of the internet as a medium for social research, reflecting on the practicalities, challenges and ethical issues facing researchers using online methods.


The course is hands-on, taught through lectures and workshops. You will practise different data collection techniques through a series of workshop activities and conduct your own data collection project as part of the assessment. Workshops consist of structured exercises, simulations and peer group discussion,
both of key readings and of students┐ own work.

You will display appropriate levels of responsibility in working alone and in collaboration with others, notably in the application of ethical and other professional guidelines for the conduct of research.

This course provides a basic introduction to key methods of data collection in social and political research. It is a core course for all students taking MSc by Research, MSc Social Research or PhD programmes in the School of Social and Political Science. Students who have taken research methods courses at undergraduate level or on other postgraduate programmes are likely to be exempt from this course, and are recommended to choose more advanced options. Exemptions are made at the discretion of a student's supervisor and/or Programme Director.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesNone
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  133
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) "Assessment includes practical work
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be by 4,000-word essay where you will demonstrate your ability to plan and use one of these methods in developing an empirical research project.
Feedback You will receive written feedback on your account of your data collection exercise, in particular, on your ability to reflect critically on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the method used.

You will be required to attend workshops as part of this course where you will practise the techniques that you have learned about in lectures and discuss how you might apply these methods in your own research. You will receive formative assessment from the workshop facilitator and peer feedback from your workshop group. You should reflect on this when writing your essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the principal methods of data collection used by social scientists
  2. Plan and use one or more of these methods in developing an empirical research project
  3. Critically reflect on the appropriateness and effectiveness of different methods in different circumstances
  4. Discuss the essential problems and methods of data collection with peers and others, both orally and in writing
  5. Display appropriate levels of responsibility in working alone and in collaboration with others, notably in the application of ethical and other professional guidelines
Reading List
Becker, H.S. (1998). Tricks of the Trade: How to think about your research while you're doing it, Chicago University Press
Jane Ritchie and Jane Lewis (eds) (2003) Qualitative Research Practice: A guide for social science students and researchers, Sage
Alan Bryman (2008) Social Research Methods, third edition, Oxford University Press

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Contacts
Course organiserProf Catherine Lyall
Tel: (0131 6)50 2452
Email: C.Lyall@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMs Nicole Develing-Bogdan
Tel: (0131 6)51 5067
Email: v1ndeve2@exseed.ed.ac.uk
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