FS12-ACR-802-001 Research Methods

Instructor: Phil Howard
Office Phone: 355-8431
Office Address: 316 Natural Resources
Office Hours: by appointment
E-mail: howardp@msu.edu
Location: Natural Resources, Room 225
Times: Thursdays, 4:00 to 6:50 PM

Required Texts
Fink, Arlene. 2010. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper. 3rd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Kuhn, Thomas. 1996. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 3rd edition (or earlier editions). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Course Description
This course will provide an overview of the nature of interdisciplinary research. It will also assist in the development of skills in critiquing, evaluating and interpreting published research, as well as conducting research. It is built on the idea that interdisciplinary research presents numerous challenges, including the integration of multiple literatures derived from various research paradigms and disciplines. Various methodological approaches and research techniques that are used in interdisciplinary studies in the social sciences and in the Department of Community, Agricultural, Recreation and Resource Studies will be explored. This course provides students with the necessary skills to become competent consumers of published research. In addition, it forms a foundation from which students may begin to conceptualize their own research projects, including a thesis or dissertation, and to choose which methods courses best suit their purposes.

Course Objectives
1. To introduce the basic nature, logic and processes of research.
2. To introduce the vast heterogeneity in methodologies that are used in the social sciences and in interdisciplinary CARRS research.
3. To improve competence in consuming published research.
4. To improve skills in thinking critically, and with reconciling disparate or conflicting information.
5. To improve skills in analyzing large amounts of information,
6. To understand the social construction of research methods and findings.

Schedule
Week 1, Aug. 30 Introduction
Week 2, Sep. 6 Observation studies; Concept mapping
Week 3, Sep. 13 Library and article databases; Social construction of research
Week 4, Sep. 20 Research design, visualization; Research ethics I
Week 5, Sep. 27 Modeling; Reviewing critically
Week 6, Oct. 4 Social network analysis; Qualitative research
Week 7, Oct. 11 Qualitative data analysis; Synthesizing information
Week 8, Oct. 18 Correlation and regression; Statistical software
Week 9, Oct. 25 Participatory research; Annotated bibliographies
Week 10, Nov. 1 Survey research; Writing
Week 11, Nov. 8 Discrete analysis; Critical literature reviews
Week 12, Nov. 15 Effective presentations; Research Ethics II
Week 13, Nov. 29 Peer critiques
Week 14, Dec. 6 Lit review/research proposal presentations

Final Exam - December 13 (Thursday), 5:45 to 7:45 PM.

Course Requirements
Assignments due Readings due (see ANGEL)
Week 1, Aug. 30
Week 2, Sep. 6 Observation study
Week 3, Sep. 13 Concept map for Kuhn
Week 4, Sep. 20 Research question
Week 5, Sep. 27 Critical review of 1 article
Week 6, Oct. 4 Interview
Week 7, Oct. 11 Synthesis of 3-5 articles
Week 8, Oct. 18 Data for SPSS lab
Week 9, Oct. 25 Annotated bib. of 10-12 articles
Week 10, Nov. 1 Descriptions of 3 methods
Week 11, Nov. 8 Lit review outline
Week 12, Nov. 15 Proposal using 2 methods
Week 13, Nov. 29 Literature review draft
Week 14, Dec. 6 Presentations

Final Exam: Final literature review/proposal, self-evaluation


Guests
Week 3 Suzi Teghtmeyer, Reference and Technology Librarian - article databases
Week 5 Laura Schmitt Olabisi, CARRS - modeling
Week 6 Zachary Neal, Sociology - social network analysis
Week 7 Jenny Buckley, CARRS - NVivo for qualitative analysis
Week 9 Laurie Thorp, CARRS - participatory research
Week 10 Dan McCole, CARRS - survey research
Week 11 Chi-Ok Oh, CARRS - discrete analysis


Grading Policy
100 points – Class participation (in-class discussion and exercises, peer workshops)
100 points – Weekly assignments
200 points – Final literature review/proposal

Total – 400 points

Grading scale for the course (by percentage of the 400 points obtained):
95 to 100% - 4.0
90 to 94% - 3.5
85 to 89% - 3.0
80 to 84% - 2.5
75 to 79% - 2.0
70 to 74% - 1.5
65 to 69% - 1.0
<65% - no credit