GESIS Training Courses

Scientific Coordination

André Ernst

Administrative Coordination

Janina Götsche

Research Design in the Social Sciences

Online via Zoom
General Topics:
Course Level:
Software used:
Students: 400 €
Academics: 600 €
Commercial: 1200 €
Additional links
Lecturer(s): Prof. Dr. Lea Ellwardt

About the lecturer - Prof. Dr. Lea Ellwardt

Course description

Paying attention to research design at an early stage, and thus thinking beforehand about the kinds of conclusions that may be drawn from a study, is inevitable for rigorous social research. This workshop is designed to help PhD students to plan and conduct their quantitative research in a robust fashion. The process of an innovative dissertation project involves a large variety of decisions with regard to the use of appropriate theories and methods. Every successful research project starts out with a thorough and critical literature review, followed by the formulation of a well-chosen and clear research objective. Once an overarching research question has been identified, the researcher develops a coherent theoretical framework and elaborates on the expected mechanisms subsequently. As there is no gold standard or best practice for the choice of methodology, this course has a strong emphasis on the various techniques of data collection and data analysis. Importantly, the discussion of these techniques will involve ethical considerations and an evaluation of the anticipated strengths and weaknesses of a chosen empirical design. Based on a number of hands-on individual and group exercises, PhD students anticipate the different stages of their dissertation research step by step, and where necessary evaluate and revise decisions.
This workshop is a recurring event that extends over a total of 4 days, spread over 7 weeks.
The following dates are scheduled:

Target group

This workshop guides PhD students in their development of a feasible dissertation project. Students should therefore participate in this workshop early on in their PhD trajectory, i.e. in the preparatory phase. This way, ideally, the workshop equips students with a profound basis for conducting research in the remainder of their project.

Learning objectives

  • Identify a research problem based on a literature review within their field.
  • Formulate relevant and researchable questions.
  • Translate theoretical arguments into testable hypotheses.
  • Compare common techniques of quantitative data collection and data analysis.
  • Warrant awareness of potential pitfalls and design errors.

  • Prerequisites

    Students are expected to have (nearly) completed their master's degree in the social, economic or related sciences. A sound command of the English language is required, since students are asked to carry out written and oral assignments and participate in an interactive learning environment. A rough idea of an anticipated quantitative research topic will be very helpful, but is no strict prerequisite.


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