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The Chinese University of Hong Kong

GPAD 2111B Political Research Methodology


2017-2018 Term 2

Course Outline

Lecture Time: Monday 14:30pm-16:15pm


Location: UCA 406

“Data! Data! Data! I cannot make bricks without clay.”

Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Lecturer: Dr. James F. Downes


Email: jamesfdownes@cuhk.edu.hk
Office: T.C. Cheng 323
Office Hours: Friday 13:30-15:30pm; or by appointment

Tutor: Mr. Mohid Iftikhar


Email: mohid.iftikhar@gmail.com
Office: TBA
Office Hours: by appointment

Course Description:
Recent global political events such as Brexit, the momentous 2016 US
Presidential Elections and the rise of localism in Hong Kong make this
course an important one to study. If we want to understand the main
causes behind some of these recent landmark political events, then we
need to have a solid understanding of research methods and the
application of such methods. This course is “affectionately” nicknamed
“the three incense sticks.” However, this course is not as difficult as it
seems. The objective of the course is simple: to equip students with the
essential concepts in research methodology and to enable them to
conduct quality work on their own. With some hard work, students might
even find it fun and rewarding, with some of the methods taught in this
course being particularly relevant for future careers in both an academic
and non-academic settings. This course is comprised of three main parts.
In Part I, we address important questions such as: What is knowledge and
the purpose of research? What constitutes a “good” research topic and
how can we identify them? What is a theory and its relationship with the
empirical world? How is knowledge created, refined and rejected?

In Part II on the course, we focus on a number of validity issues in


research methodology. How do we know which observations to include in
our research, i.e. the question of sampling and external validity? How do
we operationalize and measure the constructs we intend to study, i.e.
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the question of measurement, reliability and construct validity? What is
cause and effect and how can it be inferred through different research
designs and the use of, among other methods, survey and laboratory
experiments, alongside qualitative case studies. Part II of the course also
places a strong importance on applied survey design in the field of
political science, which relates directly to understanding both public
opinion and public policy.

Part III of the course then examines important qualitative (field research
and focus groups) and quantitative methods (bivariate and multivariate
statistics) that are important not just for political science researchers, but
also for political leaders and policy makers in understanding how to
interpret and make sense of data. There is only one computer lab
session in Week 13 the course where we will be using the SPSS statistical
software. These lab sessions are applied and interactive. The primary
purpose of these two sessions is to provide a gentle and applied
introduction to the world of statistics. These lab sessions are not meant
to be ‘scary’, but rather to allow students to explore further their
knowledge base and see how statistical analysis can allow us to answer
some important questions that relate to fields such as Elections and
Voting, Public Opinion and International Relations. Thus, in Week 13 we
will cover some basic concepts in descriptive statistics. Week 14 then
outlines some more advanced tools of data analysis.

This course has a practical bent and seeks to equip students not only
with the academic study of Research Methodology in the field of political
science, but also to provide analytical training for students who are
thinking about entering the fields of public policy, public opinion, political
leadership and further graduate studies in the future.

Course Assessment:

20% Participation (continuous assessment): In addition to


interactive lectures, there will be a total of six tutorial sessions (see
the schedule below) and one lab sessions. Active participation is
essential. Remember: mere attendance is not participation.

30% Survey Design Group Project: Working in groups of 3-4 people


(ideally preferred), students will design a short survey that examines
a topic of their interest. The topic must be in an area of political
science, but students are strongly encouraged to examine issues
that they are deeply interested in. The topics may relate to Hong
Kong Politics; Elections and Voting; Comparative Politics; or from
sub-fields such as European/American Politics. Students will present
(20-25 minute presentation) on their Survey/Questionnaire in the
Week 10 tutorials (Please see the “Course Deadlines”
section on Page 3 for further information). Students will
submit a short outline of their handout (5-10 pages) to
Blackboard of their Survey Design Group Project and the
resulting questionnaire.

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50% Research Proposal: 2,500 to 3,000 words in length, on a
research topic of the student’s interest and on an individual
basis. The topic must be in an area of political science, but
students are strongly encouraged to examine issues that they
are deeply interested in. The topics may relate to Hong Kong
Politics; Elections and Voting; Comparative Politics; or from sub-
fields such as European/American Politics. Due at 23:59pm,
April 11th (Wednesday). Students must notify the Tutor
and/or Lecturer of their research proposal through outlining it on
the shared Google Docs course page.

ACADEMIC HONESTY AND PLAGIARISM:

Plagiarism will result in a failing grade in the course. The research proposal
should include full citations. Chicago-Style or Harvard Footnote Citation are
preferred (either can be used, as long as consistency is ensured). Students
should upload individual research proposal to VeriGuide for the checking
of plagiarism and also upload an electronic copy to the course Blackboard
page (please note that only electronic copies will be accepted).

Please see more information about academic honesty in the following


website:
http://www.cuhk.edu.hk/policy/academichonesty/

Course Materials:

• The following textbook will be used:


Trochim, William, James P. Donnelly, and Kanika Arora.
2016. Research Methods: The Essential Knowledge Base,
2nd edition. Cengage Learning.
It is available for purchase at the University Bookstore. A copy
is also placed on reserve (4 hours) at the University Library.
• All other readings (additional readings) are available for download on
Blackboard and are in PDF format.
• Students are expected to complete all readings before each
class/tutorial session.
• Lectures and readings complement and are therefore not substitutes
of each other.
• Lecture PowerPoint’s will be posted on Blackboard and handouts
distributed before each Lecture.

Course Schedule:

Week 1- Introduction & course overview

Week 2- Generating research topics

Week 3- Types of Research, the Scientific Method & Research Design

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Week 4- Measurement (Operationalization), Reliability and the ‘Two’
Validities

Week 5- Public Opinion & Polling Special Lecture (Future Careers)


Week 6- Surveys I: Public Opinion (Principles of ‘Good’ Survey Design)
Week 7- **CHINESE NEW YEAR** (NO LECTURE OR CLASSES)
Week 8- Surveys II: Public Opinion (Designing a Survey)
Week 9- Survey Experiments & Framing
Week 10- Case Studies (** GROUP PROJECT PRESENTATION IN
TUTORIALS**)
Week 11- Qualitative Methods: Ethnographic Research & Focus Groups

Week 12 (April 2nd) – (** NO LECTURE DUE TO READING WEEK/EASTER


MONDAY**)
Week 13- Quantitative Methods I: Descriptive Statistics (SPSS Lab
Session)
Week 14- Quantitative Methods II: Bivariate & Multivariate Statistics- An
Introduction (LECTURE ONLY AND NO LAB SESSION)

Course Deadlines:

Week 10: Students to present their survey research group projects in the
Week 10 Tutorials.

March 12th (Monday) group and March 14th (Wednesday) groups.

Week 14: Research Proposal (Individual) due at 23:59pm, April 11th


(Wednesday) via Blackboard.

Course Schedule and Readings:

Week 1 (January 8thh) – Introduction and overview


**No readings this week as this is an introductory week**

Week 2 (January 15thd) – Generating research topics

Required Readings:

• Trochim, Donnelly and Arora, Ch. 1 (pp. 4-12).

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• Knopf, Jeffrey W. 2006. “Doing a Literature Review,” PS: Political
Science and Politics 39(1), 127-132.

Week 3 (January 22ndh) – Types of research, the scientific method


and Research Design

Required Readings:

• Trochim, Donnelly and Arora, Ch. 1 (pp. 12-30).

• W. I. B. Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation (New York: W. W.


Norton,
1957), pp. 100-105

Additional Reading:

• Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb, and Joseph Williams, The Craft of


Research
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), pp. 273-276

Week 4 (January 29thh) –Measurement (Operationalization),


Reliability and the ‘Two’ Validities

Required Readings:

• Trochim, Donnelly and Arora, Ch. 5, Ch. 6 (pp. 162-166 only) and Ch. 7.
• Philip Pollock, The Essentials of Political Analysis (CQ Press, 2005),
pp. 8-25

Additional Reading:

• Paul Kellstedt and Guy Whitten, The Fundamentals of Political Science


Research
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 45-57, 70-79

Week 5 (February 5th) – **Public Opinion & Polling Special


Lecture** (Future Careers)

• No readings this week as this is a Special Lecture.


• This Lecture is applied, drawing on the world of public opinion and
polling, in getting
students to think about prospective future career avenues in this
field.

Week 6 (February 12th) - Surveys I:

Required Readings:

• Paul Gray et al., The Research Imagination: An Introduction to


Qualitative and
Quantitative Methods (Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 122-
146

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• Peter Burnham et al., Research Methods in Politics (Palgrave
Macmillan, 2008), pp.
96-108

Additional Reading:

• Gary King, Robert O. Keohane, and Sidney Verba, Designing Social


Inquiry: Scientific
Inference in Qualitative Research (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1994), pp. 128-137

Week 7 (**February 19th: No Lecture due to Chinese New Year **)

Week 8 (February 26th) – Surveys II):

Required Reading:

• Trochim, Donnelly and Arora, (pp. 171-202).

Week 9 (March 5th) – Survey Experiments and Framing

** Students to present their Survey Group Projects this week in


the Tutorial**

Required Reading:

• Trochim, Donnelly and Arora, Ch. 8 (p. 214-224 only) and Ch. 9 (p. 230-
247 only).

Additional Readings:

• Paul Sniderman, "The Logic and Design of the Survey Experiment," in


Cambridge
Handbook of Experimental Political Science, ed. James Druckman et
al. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 102-114.

• Diana Mutz, Population-Based Survey Experiments (Princeton:


Princeton University
Press, 2011), ch. 4 ["Vignette Treatments"].

Week 10 (March 12th) – Case Studies

Required Readings:
• Robert Yin, Case Study Research: Design and Methods (Thousand
Oaks: Sage, 2009), pp. 17-21, 46-59.

• Henry Brady and David Collier, ed., Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse
Tools,
Shared Standards (Rowman and Littlefield, 2010): ch. 12 ["Data-Set
Observations
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versus Causal-Process Observations: the 2000 U.S. Presidential
Election"].

Additional Reading:

• Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation (New York: Basic Books,


1984): chapter 4 ["The Live-and-Let-Live System in Trench Warfare in
World War I"].

• Peter Burnham et al, Research Methods in Politics (Palgrave Macmillan,


2008), pp. 187-200.

Week 11 (March 26th) – Qualitative Methods: Ethnographic


Research and Focus Groups

Required Readings:

• Earl Babbie, The Practice of Social Research (Belmont: Wadsworth,


2013), pp. 295-305, 314-326.
• H. Russell Bernard, Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and
Quantitative Approaches (Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2006), pp. 347-357.
Additional Reading:

• Robert M. Emerson, Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. Shaw, Writing


Ethnographic Fieldnotes (University of Chicago Press, 2011), ch. 1 & 2.

Week 12 (April 2nd) – (** NO LECTURE DUE TO READING


WEEK/EASTER MONDAY**)

Week 13 (April 9th) – Quantitative Methods I: Descriptive Statistics


(SPSS Lab Session Week)

Required Reading:

• Philip Pollock, The Essentials of Political Analysis (CQ Press, 2005), pp.
52-73.

Additional Reading:

• Charles Wheelan, Naked Statistics (New York: W. W. Norton, 2013), pp.


18-31.

Week 14 (April 16th) –Quantitative Methods II: Bivariate &


Multivariate Statistics- An Introduction

Required Reading:

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• Paul Kellstedt and Guy Whitten, The Fundamentals of Political
Science Research
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 120-131, 134-139,
145-150.

Additional Reading:

• Charles Wheelan, Naked Statistics (New York: W. W. Norton, 2013),


pp. 146-168.

** End of Course **
Tutorial Schedule:

Tutorial Topic & Date


I Introductory Tutorial: What are
Research Methods? (Week
5/February 5th and February 7th)
II Survey I (Week 6/February 12th and
February 14th)
III Survey II (Week 9/March 5th and
March 7th)
IV **Presentation of Survey Group
Projects (Week 10/March 12th
and March 14th)**
V Qualitative Methods (Week 12/March
26th and March 28th)
VI Quantitative Methods- SPSS Lab
Session (Week 13/April 9TH and April
11th)

Tutorial Groups:

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Tutorial Group Date & Time Room
T1: Monday 12:30pm- UCC 105
14:15pm
T2: Wednesday 10:30am- UCC 102
12:15pm
T3: Wednesday 15:30pm- UCC 104
18:15pm

Useful Methods Resources:

Eurobarometer
Public opinion surveys conducted by the European Commission since 1974.
http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm

HKU Public Opinion Programme


Public opinion polls conducted regularly on important issues that relate to
Hong Kong politics and society.
https://www.hkupop.hku.hk/english/

FiveThirtyEight
Latest polling data and discussion of American Politics from the renowned
world leading pollster Nate Silver.
http://fivethirtyeight.com

European Social Survey


The European Social Survey (ESS) is an academically driven cross-national
survey that has been conducted across Europe since its establishment in
2001. Every two years, face-to-face interviews are conducted with newly
selected, cross-sectional samples.
The survey measures the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of
diverse populations in more than thirty nations.
http://www.europeansocialsurvey.org

YouGov
https://yougov.co.uk/news/categories/europe/
British public opinion company that is world leading in the design and
implementation of political surveys. The polling company has regular polls
that examine attitudes towards Europe of British citizens.

Introduction to SPSS (Econometrics Academy)


Excellent applied videos that provide a gentle introduction to the statistical
software of SPSS.
https://sites.google.com/site/econometricsacademy/econometrics-
software/introduction-to-spss

Discovering Statistics using SPSS (An excellent Introduction)


https://www.discoveringstatistics.com/books/dsus/

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