Course description

Research Design and Methodological Choices


Research design is commonly defined as a program or a blueprint that guides researchers through the process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting observations. Its essentialness is however rooted in its effects on the validity of knowledge claims. Research design is pivotal in affecting the strength, persuasiveness, and authoritativeness of claims concerning causality, external validity, and construct validity, to name a few. Research design is both a science and an art. While some of the major principles are firmly established, we continuously observe rejuvenations, extensions as well as bold innovations. The course examines in detail an amalgam of research designs and common design pitfalls with the aim of assisting students in designing research inquiry which is publishable, influential and important.

Course content

The course will cover a wide range of issues including:

  • Research designs
  • Validity
  • Sampling
  • Measurement
  • Common method bias
  • Unit of analysis
  • Moderation and mediation effects
  • Introduction to databases
  • Theory and theoretical contribution
  • Getting research published
  • Research and ethics

Learning outcome knowledge

The aim of the course is to introduce students to an amalgam of research designs that can be employed and methodological tradeoffs and challenges that need to be addressed in the pursuance of designing research inquiry which is publishable, influential and important.

At the end of the doctoral course the students should be able to:

  • Choose an appropriate research design
  • Design research which is publishable and potentially influential
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of various designs
  • Critically appraise contemporary research designs
  • Discuss the role of ethics in research
  • Comprehend the variety of philosophical perspectives underlying research in the social sciences

Exam organisation

  • Presentation: 20%
  • Written exam: 30%
  • Written assignment: 50%