ES 321/AMS 360 – Research Methods - Gorkem Atsungur

ES 321/AMS 360 – Research Methods - Gorkem Atsungur

January 17, 2014

                                                           AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL ASIA



Spring 2014


   ES 321& AMS 360 – Research Methods

                                                                                 Course ID: 2610 (1713)

               Course Schedule: Monday 09.25 – 10.50 R328 & Wednesday. 09.25 – 10.50 R328


Assistant Professor Görkem Atsungur

Office: #214 – European Studies Department.

Office Hours: Monday: 10.50-12.05




* Required European / American Studies Departmental Course

Number of Credits: 3cr.

Course Description:

   This course is a general introduction to research methods, particularly in social science and humanities and will cover some basic topics such as the foundations of social science, research design, and data collection. The topics to be covered include the Meaning of Research, Research Process and Design, Components of Research Proposal, Literature Review, Research Strategies (Survey, Case Study, Action Research and Ethnography), Sampling Analysis, Questionnaire Design, Data Collection, Research Ethics, Qualitative and Quantitative Data Analysis and Report Writing.


Course Aim and Objectives:

   The purpose of this course is to provide initial and basic instruction on how to make a scientific research in the student’s area of interests.

   This course aims to help students improve their skills in scientific thinking from two different perspectives: Consumer of Research and Producer of Research. As a consumer of research, this course is to develop students capacity for critically evaluating ‘’scientific knowledge’’ by academic journals, mass media, and other reports. Moreover, as a producer of research, this course is to sharpen student’s ability to produce original research. These include skills in designing, and conducting research studies in European and American studies, collecting and analyzing data, drawing appropriate conclusion based on statistic results, and writing up scientific reports. As a result of these, this course will be vital for senior thesis.

   By the end of this course, students should be able to:

(1)   Formulate a scientific research questions and design.

(2)   Collect the academic data using a variety of methods.

(3)   Analyze both qualitative and quantitative data.

(4)   Critically evaluate the research.




A. Teaching Methods:

   The course objectives will be achieved through instructional model such as lecturing and also experiential (concept formation, independent research and etc...) and co-operative (role play, simulation and etc...) methods. Instructor would also use PowerPoint presentations for the lecture part.


B. Reading Materials:

   Instructor prepares required materials for students. Necessary course materials, including the course Syllabus, can be found on the course website in the e-course in European Studies Spring 2014.

   Each student has to read required readings which are indicated for each section before the class and students should come ready to present, argue and discuss them. All reading materials are the main responsibility of the students in order to pass this course.


C. Special Needs:

   Students with special needs may require special arrangements relating to attending class sessions, carrying out writing term project or taking examinations. They are strongly encouraged to inform the Instructor during the first week of classes.


D. Classroom Rules of Conduct:

   Please respect university discipline rules and turn off cell phones and pagers during class. Students should keep quiet and not be late for the class. Students cannot use social networks Facebook, VK, and Twitter etc. during the class. If the instructor realizes that a student uses any of these networks during the class, he has right to ask a student to leave the classroom. Food and beverages are not permitted in the classroom. During the exams, the use of cell phones, pagers, PDAs, or any other electronic devices is strictly prohibited. Unmoral/Rude behaviours to other students, staffs and/or the instructor will not be tolerated.


E. Academic Honesty and Discipline:

   Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated at AUCA. All assignments, term papers, and exams must be done by on your own. If student is found to engage in cheating, plagiarism, inventing false information or citations, helping someone else or any other violation of the ‘’Code of Academic Integrity’’, s/he should expect the severest penalties available under AUCA policies.

- According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary; Plagiarize means: “to steal and pass of (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own, to use (another’s production) without crediting the source, to commit literary theft and to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.” As a result of these, Plagiarism is an act of fraud.

   Students found guilty of academic dishonesty will be assigned an appropriate academic penalty.

   For more information, please visit:

   If a student has any concerns about how to write an academic article, s/he can feel free to consult the instructor at any time and/or during the office hours. If the Student plagiarizes, s/he will definitely receive F grade for the course





  1. A.    Attendance & Active Participation – 10%

   The nature of the subject requires active class participation. In order to participate in class discussions effectively, each student is expected to have read all assigned readings listed in the schedule. All students should NOT hesitate to participate when they want to expand the topic or they need further explanation, etc. If student 3 times absent without medical certification, s/he will automatically be failed in this course. Active and meaningful participation will add 10% to the final grade.


B. Midterm Exam – 20%    03rd March 2014 Monday

   Each student must take a midterm exam. There will be multiple choice questions. It will add 20% to the final grade. If the student will not come to exam on the date, he will receive F. There will be no make-up exam if the student cannot prove any medical document.


C. Group Project and Public Seminar Presentation– 30%   28th April 2014 Monday

‘’The European Union and Central Asia from Technical Assistance to a New Partnership: Challenges and Opportunities’’


How to Write a Final Report – Please find the document in the e-course for more info.


1. Part I -- Literature Review (LR): Please collect all of your group’s members’ Literature Reviews. And put into one. Be careful you should not repeat of the same sources or same definitions. As a group you will have only one group paper final report, therefore, you should collect all L.R and finally create one Literature Review. 17th March 2014 Monday at 10:50 is a due date to submit LR.


2. Part II – Fact Findings and Analysis: We will prepare survey questions together in the class and you will analyse all these survey questions answers with possible charts, graphs. You will use total numbers of surveys, not only your group numbers of surveys. In some questions there can be two charts. Numbers or graphs are not enough please interpret the statistical information.  


3. Part III – Conclusion: Do not forget to mention about your group difficulties, analysis, examples, advantages and disadvantages with a final conclusion. It is important to include your interpretations.


4. Annex – Please do not forget to include JUST your groups numbers in the annex form (At the end of the page you will see it- do not forget to include your groups number as an attachment). And also please do not forget to put References at the end while you used it for Part I.


  • On 28th April 2014 Monday, there will be a public lecture by the course students. In the class, we will choose the speakers. We should divide the responsibilities of the speakers at the end of March. At the same day at 10:50 during the class time we will have a rehearsal. Also we should have a PowerPoint presentation.
  • On 28th April 2014 Monday at 10:50 during the class time, the professor will collect your group projects as a hard copy. If you do not submit as a hard copy on 28th April 2014 Monday at 10:50, the instructor will cut 5 points. If you will submit after the due date, he will cut 5 points for each day.
  • At the same day (28th April 2014 Monday) until 23:59, you must send group project by email to the professor’s email ( address. If you will not send it, he will cut 10 points.
  • As a group, you are free to share responsibilities. This is the basic idea of teamwork. The professor does not want to force you into one standard. It is against liberal arts and critical thinking. But please everybody must take his/her responsibilities. Therefore, everybody must do surveys and write the reports! In final report, please try to help your teams.


At the end of the project, the students will receive certificate.


D. Final Exam – 40%    05th May 2014 Monday

   Each student must take one final exam. It will add 40% to the final grade.


*** Grading Policy:

  The grade for the course will be comprised of the following percentages:

Attendance & Participation: 10%

Midterm Exam: 20%

Group Project and Public Seminar: 30%

Final Exam: 40%



Quality Points


Grade Percentages




Above 93%




89.51% - 92.49%




85.51% - 89.49%




82.51% - 85.49%




79.51% - 82.49%




75.51% - 79.49%




72.51% - 75.49%




69.51% - 72.49%




65.51% - 69.49%




62.51% - 65.49%




59.51% - 62.51%




Less than 59.49 %



*Note: These grades are used for all courses of European Studies Department at AUCA.



‘’I’’ Grade: ‘’Incomplete’’ is given, If the student has been performing well throughout the semester but due to serious reason was not able to finish final assignment before the end of the semester. The Student must report the reason to the Department and the Register’s Office. After the assignment is completed, ‘’I’’ grade is replaced by the final grade.


‘’W’’ Grade: If the Student refuse to continue to study this course, this grade can be given by the Instructor. The Student signs the form designed by the Register’s Office and should repeat this course if it is a required course in the department.


‘’AU’’ Grade: ‘’Course Audit’’ is given if the Student may choose this course for audit and receive AU in case to be present for 75% of the classes.




Week I. Introduction

13.01.2014– Introduction to the Course and Syllabus.

15.01.2014 – How to make an Academic Research?


Week II. Fundamentals

20.01.2014 – Characteristics of the scientific method or why citation rules are important?


-          True, J.A.: Finding out. Conducting and Evaluating Social Research, Wadsworth Inc. 1983, pp. 11-25.

22.01.2014– Choice of topics or how to make out of a current issue a scientific topic?


-          Lester, J.D.: Writing Research Papers. A complete Guide. Fifth Edition, Scott, Foresman and Company 1987, pp. 13-47, pp. 1 -20.


Week III. Working with Secondary Sources

27.01.2014 – Literature review, compiling of bibliographies.


-         Hart, Chris: Doing a Literature Review. Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination, Cromwell Press 1998, pp. 3-14.

29.01.2014 – Organizing literature, working with excerptions and keywords.


-          Hart, Chris: Doing a Literature Review. Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination, Cromwell Press 1998, pp. 26-43, 79-108.


Week IV. Working with Primary Sources

03.02.2014 – Principles of quantitative Research.


-          Bryman, A.: Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press 2001, pp. 61-83. (READER: pp. 85-105)

05.02.2014 – Principles of qualitative Research


-          Bauer, M.W./Gaskell, G./Allum, N.C.: “Quality, Quantity and Knowledge Interests: Avoiding Confusions”, in: Bauer, M.W./Gaskell, G: Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound, SAGE publications 2000, pp. 3-19. (READER: pp. 107-121)

-          Bryman, A.: Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press 2001, pp. 263-289. (READER pp. 123-147)


Week V. Qualitative Research Methods I: Qualitative Data

10.02.2014 – Types of qualitative Data, Sampling Strategies.


-          Bryman, A.: Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press 2001, pp. 301-304, 323-325 (READER pp. 149-155)

-          Bryman, A.: Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press 2001, pp. 369-380 (READER, pp. 157-168)

12.02.2014 – Guideline to qualitative methods: Interviews, participant observation, Internet observation


-          Bryman, A.: Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press 2001, pp. 289-335 (READER 169-213)

-          Mann. C./Stewart, F.: Internet Communication and Qualitative Research. A Handbook of Research Online, 2000, pp. 65-99 (READER pp. 215-248)


Week VI. Quantitative Research Methods I: Quantitative Data

17.02.2014– Types of quantitative Data, Sampling Strategies.


-          Bryman, A.: Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press 2001, pp. 83-105 (READER pp. 277-298).

19.02.2014 - Guideline to questionnaires.


-          Babbie, E.: Survey Research Methods, Wadsworth Inc. 1990, pp. 127-146.


Week VII. Mixture of Methods

24.02.2014– Examples of Mixed Method Approaches

26.02.2014– Examples of Mixed Method Approaches


-          Bryman, A.: Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press 2001, pp. 443-459 (READER 323-336).


Week VIII. Midterm Exam

03.03.2014 – Midterm Exam

05.03.2014 Midterm Exam Results and Review of the Course


Week IX. Spring Break: No Classes: 10.03.2014 – 14.03.2014


Week X. Qualitative Research Methods II: Analysis

17.03.2014 – Analysis of Qualitative Data.


             - Bryman, A.: Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press 2001, pp. 380-384, 387-405 (READER pp. 249-270)


19.03.2014 – Interpretation of Qualitative Data: from Text to Theory.


-          Vogel, Dita: Introduction to Interview Analysis and Presentation (READER pp. 271-276)


Week XI. Quantitative Research Methods II: Analysis

24.03.2014 – Analysis of quantitative Data.


-          Bryman, A.: Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press 2001, pp. 213-259.

26.03.2014 – Summary of Qualitative and Quantitative Methods.


Week XII. Applied Social Statistics and Statistical Package for the Social Sciences


31.03.2014Applied Social Statistics

02.04.2014 – Statistical Package for the Social Sciences(SPSS)


      - Nick Emtage and Stephen Duthy, An Introduction to Statistical Package for the Social Sciences,


Week XIII. Practical Week: Group Project

07.04.2014 – Group Project Reports III

09.04.2014 - Group Project Reports IV


Week XIV. Practical Week: Senior Thesis Topics

14.04.2014 – How to choose a good Senior Thesis Topic?

16.04.2014 – Senior Thesis Topics and Methodology

*** The deadline for tentative senior project proposal is the last Monday of April of junior year. ***


Week XV. Preparations for Public Seminar  

21.04.2014 – Preparations for Public Seminar I

23.04.2014 – Preparations for Public Seminar II


Week XVI. Review of the Course

28.04.2014 – Public Seminar Rehearsal

30.04.2014 - Review of the Course


  • Note: the Instructor reserves the right to make any changes in the content of topics. It is one of the main responsibilities of the students to attend the class and be informed about any changes.




- Research methods knowledge database:

A web based text book on research methods aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate students. Produced by Cornell University in the United States.

- Resource for methods in evaluation in social research:

Extensive site providing information on how to evaluate research. This site was created by a US academic in Sociology, Dr Gene Shackman. Information about his background and credentials are available via the site.

- Research methods and statistics arena:

 An up-to-date guide to books and journals in research methods. Includes free datasets for SPSS. This site was compiled by Psychology Press, an Informa brand.

- Intute tutorial in research methods:

- Practical exemplars for the analysis of surveys:

In depth guide to analyzing surveys with practical examples and resources on theory. This site is produced as collaboration between Napier University in Edinburgh and the National Centre for Social Research.

- Economic and Social Data Service guides:

A series of guides on methods, using datasets, and resources for particular research themes. Researchers based in UK universities can use specially created teaching versions of datasets as examples when using some of these guides.

- Methodology Institute at LSE:

Courses and seminars in research methods and a useful list of LSE academics with interest in this area.

- SPSS product site:

The product site for SPSS a statistical data management and analysis package. Includes free demo.

- UCLA SPSS resource site:

 Extensive online guides and classes in using SPSS produced by the University of California in the US.

- Quantitative data analysis with SPSS 14, 15, 16:

An online guide produced by the academic authors, Alan Bryman and Duncan Cramer, to be used in conjunction with their book. The site provides datasets to be used as learning tools.


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