Interpretive Research Methods for Doctoral Students

Course Description: 

Scientists approach the empirical world in many different ways. Interpretive (or qualitative) research, like quantitative research, has its own set of assumptions, techniques, and analytical tools that are used to describe and understand social reality and social problems and their solutions. This course is designed to introduce the interpretive/qualitative research tradition and ways for conducting this kind of research with an emphasis on research design and data collection and analysis.

Learning Outcomes: 

The purpose of this course is to develop: 1) general intellectual knowledge through the exploration of some of the epistemological underpinnings of what is generally known as the qualitative research tradition; 2) critical thinking skills in general and in terms of evaluating interpretive methodologies; and 2) practical skills in designing and implementing interpretive studies. Knowledge and skills are garnered through a richer understanding of the interpretive approach, with particular consideration for sampling issues and implications, strengths and weaknesses of the tools used for collecting and analyzing qualitative data, etc. Practical skills in semi-structured, open-ended, in-depth interviewing are deepened along with a better understanding of participant observation and document analysis from a qualitative research standpoint.


Assignment 1. Develop an interview protocol: Write a list of approximately 8-10 questions that you may ask in interviews for your dissertation research.

Assignment 2. Prepare a five page draft summary of the qualitative methods section of your dissertation prospectus (to be discussed more in class). Assignment to be submitted on moodle. This paper should contain your methodological assumptions (very briefly), summary of overall research design, the qualitative methods of data collection (e.g., sampling approach, case study justification, semi-structured, in-depth interviewing, including who and why, etc.) and analysis, including a finalized interview protocol.