Effective Research Methods for Any Project

Course No. 2024
Professor Amanda M. Rosen, PhD
Webster University
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Course No. 2024
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers The most important categories of research design and methodology.
  • numbers The varieties of research design that exist, and how to choose the best research design for your project.
  • numbers How to understand and use quantitative data analysis, inferential statistics, qualitative data analysis, and more.

Course Overview

We live in a world of information. The sheer wealth of data available to us is exciting but also overwhelming. How do we separate truth from fiction? Where do we look for reliable sources? What products are best and what studies are accurate? Which headlines can be trusted?

Sound, systematic research underlies much of what is best about our world. When we think of achievements in medicine, the sciences, engineering, architecture, product design and safety, and so much more, these are areas of endeavor that depend on careful and rigorous research for their effectiveness. We rely on the fact that these areas would have undergone effective research, because sometimes our well-being and our lives depend on it.

Research, of course, is not only for scientists and scholars. Almost everyone does some kind of research from time to time. Whether you are going online to decide about an important purchase, considering a choice between schools and universities, solving a medical problem, making a career decision, or even to planning a vacation, effective research is indispensable to us in many aspects of daily life.

But what makes research effective and what allows it to give us valid and useable results?

Any good research rests upon, above all else, method. Having a systematic, reliable approach to answering a question or investigating something important lies at the heart of valid research and the knowledge it produces. Methodology is what makes the study of research methods both highly useful and deeply fascinating—it helps us see the inner workings of how knowledge is created.

In the 24 engaging and detailed lectures of Effective Research Methods for Any Project, you’ll discover the remarkable methods and techniques that make research such a powerful tool in so many areas of life. Taught by political scientist and research methods expert Professor Amanda M. Rosen of Webster University, this course gives you a deep, detailed, and practical guide to proper research methods, ones that are broadly applicable to all kinds of research. And, once you understand how sound research is conducted, you will also have an invaluable tool for determining which sources, methods, and studies are to be trusted as you encounter them in both your personal and professional life.

Learn the Core Techniques and Applications of Sound Research

Throughout this course, Professor Rosen introduces you to the wide range of research techniques that are available, equipping you to tackle your own projects. You’ll study the procedures and methodologies of experiments, quasi experiments, survey research, case studies, focus groups, election polling, ethnography, and more. And you’ll do this by employing the scientific method. While most of us learned the scientific method in school, here you will learn how to apply its principles to the information you encounter every day. The process will help get you from whatever research question you might have to an answer, regardless of your discipline, profession, or topic of study.

The lectures are designed to help you conduct research on any project. With that aim in mind, you’ll consider examples and techniques from many different fields, such as psychology, business, journalism, medical research, politics, sociology, and other areas, including everyday matters and problems.

Professor Rosen presents a rich and multilevel resource for developing your research project, allowing you to draw on the material and subject matter most appropriate to your specific study. She also makes it clear that research methods are truly usable by anyone. Even if you have no background in math or science, you can master these procedures and use them to find the answers and information you’ve been looking for.

Grasp the Foundations of Credible Research

You’ll begin by taking a broad and deep look at the features of sound research, what defines it, and how to evaluate the research of others. In laying the groundwork for your own research project, you’ll investigate:

  • The standards, principles, and regulations regarding ethics in research, and the phenomenon of ethical review boards;
  • The vital role of a review of the scholarly literature as a preparatory step in your research process;
  • How to develop both a topic for your research and a core research question to guide your work, two essential aspects of a workable research project;
  • The varieties of research design that exist, and how to choose the best research design for your project;
  • How to measure your data, encompassing four principle levels of measurement; and
  • How to define the population of data points you’ll be looking at in your project, and how to select the sample of this population you will actually study.

Ground Yourself in the Range of Research Methodologies

You’ll follow the fundamentals of sound research with a detailed study of the most important categories of research design and methodology. Among these, you’ll explore:

  • The Classic Experiment—Take account of the philosophy and procedure of the classic or “true” experiment, the hallmark of research in the natural sciences and medicine; learn how to use this methodology, and how it maximizes the control you have over your subjects and variables;
  • Surveys—In two lectures on survey research, grasp how surveys are used to reveal the characteristics of a given population; learn to design and run a survey, and construct survey questions; also study election polling, and how to discern which polls you can trust;
  • Case Studies—Delve into the workings of the case study, which analyzes data from a small group of cases, and is often applied in business, law, the social sciences, and medicine; note how case studies are used, and how to choose your cases for a case study project;
  • Field Research—Observe how field research often uses an “interpretivist” approach, involving subjective interpretation of data; take a deep look at the use of interviews and how to conduct them, and at observation research, which observes the behavior of subjects in the field;
  • Action Research—Within the category of applied research, which uses research findings in problem-solving, investigate action research, which seeks collaborative solutions to real-world problems, usually with researchers working in tandem with community members.

Learn to Analyze Your Data and Communicate your Findings

Finally, you’ll look in-depth at how to process, analyze, and share your data. First, you’ll study quantitative data analysis, interpreting your findings through simple statistical calculations that describe your data in useful ways. You’ll learn how inferential statistics allow you to draw conclusions from your data, and to compare groups using statistical means. And you’ll learn vital methods such as how to track the correlation or relationship between your data variables, and how to assess causation between your variables. You’ll also study qualitative data analysis, which involves discerning meaning and patterns in data, and the principle approaches to qualitative analysis you may need for your research. And you’ll learn how to share your findings, from the formal research report to less systematic approaches.

Throughout the lectures, Professor Rosen’s teaching style makes this an accessible and highly enjoyable learning experience. Her very clear description of concepts, often-humorous perspective, and use of real-world examples bring the subject matter vividly alive. You’ll delve into compelling examples of research, ranging from the landmark study of social discrimination by Jane Elliott and the work of anthropologist Clifford Geertz on Balinese culture to the polling debacle of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Effective Research Methods for Any Project takes you deeply into the world of the researcher, both in theory and in hands-on practice. Through these 24 lessons, you’ll gain real skill with this practical and transformative approach to knowledge creation.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Why Research Methods Matter
    Begin by considering the fundamental purposes of research. Grasp the nature of research as systematic study to understand or explain the world. Learn important distinctions in research, starting with the notions of basic research vs. applied research. Then define exploratory, descriptive, and explanatory research, and their implications, and examine the six steps of the scientific method. x
  • 2
    Characteristics of Good Research
    Take a thorough look at what distinguishes sound research from unsound research. Study important criteria for good research, useful both for evaluating the research of others and for structuring our own, noting how good research is systematic, objective, empirical, cumulative, and transparent. Also learn in detail how to spot poor research, and about potential pitfalls for researchers. x
  • 3
    Doing Research Ethically
    Assess the range of ethical considerations—codes, norms, and principles—that apply to doing research. Look first at the history of ethical violations, and regulations that now exist to govern research. Then review three key principles of ethical research. Delve into the matters of personal ethics in research, ethical review boards, and the process of obtaining consent for research. x
  • 4
    From Topic of Interest to Research Question
    Most research starts with an underlying topic. Examine different ways to select a topic for your research, and practice an exercise for topic selection. Note how it is vital to develop a compelling research question to focus your project, and how good research questions are “unanswered,” appropriate in scope, and empirical. Finally, study five tips for creating good research questions. x
  • 5
    What's Already Known? The Literature Review
    Here, discover why a literature review—a study of the scholarly literature related to your topic—is an essential first step in the research process. Take account of the many benefits that a literature review provides, and the dangers of skipping this step. Grasp how to find the scholarly sources you need, how to identify the core findings in the literature, and how to write your findings up. x
  • 6
    Generating Hypotheses and Theories
    Learn how theories drive research, when they're needed, and how to develop a theory, looking first at the literature. Then see how hypotheses function as testable statements that suggest an answer to your research question, and how theory and hypothesis closely intersect. Study four rules for writing a good hypothesis, and work with templates for writing hypotheses that follow these rules. x
  • 7
    Selecting a Research Design
    This lecture explores a range of approaches to research design, and how to choose one that is best for your project. First, examine both quantitative and qualitative research methods, from experiments and surveys to case studies and field research. Then study key considerations for research design, and see how different kinds of research questions lend themselves to specific methodologies. x
  • 8
    Measuring Concepts and Phenomena
    Grasp how sound research rests on the ability to measure the variables within your research study. Learn how to conceptually define your variables of interest, and how to “operationalize” and measure your variables prior to data collection. Look at four main levels of measurement, the need for precise data, and the importance of reliability and validity in your measurements. x
  • 9
    Choosing Populations, Samples, and Cases
    For your research design, investigate the population of cases or data points that apply to your project, and the sample or subset of this population that you will actually study. Delve into key issues in sampling, and learn to define the size of the sample you need. Finally, see how to determine which cases make it into your sample, and review two broad approaches to sampling. x
  • 10
    The Classic Experiment
    Look deeply into the procedure of the classic or “true” experiment, the hallmark of good scientific research. Study the four requirements or features of a true experiment, and consider the two types of validity that apply to experiments: internal validity and external validity. Then, review the three most common designs for a true experiment, and how they function in practice. x
  • 11
    The Value of Quasi Experiments
    Refine your understanding of the classic experiment by studying alternative research designs that are closely related. Observe the example of an impactful research study that did not fulfill the full requirements of a true experiment. Dig into the broad category of quasi-experimental designs which, though they fall short of the classic experiment, can still produce very valuable research. x
  • 12
    Designing and Conducting a Survey
    In the first of two lectures on surveys, observe how surveys are used to find out about peoples' opinions and behaviors. Look at the various kinds of surveys, which sorts of projects are most suitable for surveys, and evaluate the costs and benefits of different types of surveys. Then learn how to write a survey, highlighting five important principles for creating effective survey questions. x
  • 13
    Understanding Election Polls
    Focus now on election polling. First, delineate the critical difference between scientific and unscientific polling, and why scientific polling is much more reliable. Study five rules for good polling, which help us evaluate which polls we can trust. Apply these rules to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and gain insight into why the polling did not match the election results. x
  • 14
    Research by Case Study
    Case studies examine either one or a small number of cases, with the goal of in-depth understanding of their complexities. Take account of the wide range of uses of case studies in research, and when a case study is a good choice. Learn how case studies make use of multiple types and sources of data, and consider five categories of cases that lend themselves to the case study approach. x
  • 15
    Interpretivism and Field Research
    Learn how the “interpretivist” approach to research differs substantially from the “positivist” approach we’ve studied so far, highlighting subjective interpretation as opposed to positivism’s search for objective, rational truths. See how the interpretivist approach is applied to field research, and delve into the use of interviews and observation as methods of gathering qualitative data. x
  • 16
    Applied, Evaluative, and Action Research
    Explore “applied” research, which aims at applying knowledge to problem-solving. First study evaluation research, typically used to evaluate actions or programs in business and government. Then learn about action research, which seeks collaborative solutions to real-world problems, and how to do it. Look also at market and product research, used to determine what consumers want. x
  • 17
    Gathering and Preparing Data
    Take stock of the kinds of data we’ve looked at, such as data from experiments, interviews, surveys, observation, and the written record. Learn how to put your data into a practical format—most often, using a spreadsheet. Then study coding, the process of transforming raw data into usable categories. Then, look at data analysis programs you can use to help process and analyze your data. x
  • 18
    Using Statistics to Interpret Data
    Descriptive statistics are simple calculations that help us describe and understand our data. Learn how to use the three calculations of central tendency, which shows us the middle or center of our data, variation, showing how much variation there is in the data, and frequency, which shows how frequently each value appears. Note how the use of “z scores” gives further insights into your data. x
  • 19
    Statistical Inferences from Data
    Inferential statistics allows us to make inferences and draw conclusions from our data. Begin by studying some key principles for interpreting the implications of your findings. Then review three tests that researchers use to analyze their data and get answers: “Z tests,” “T tests,” and the ANOVA test, which are commonly used to compare statistical differences between groups. x
  • 20
    Assessing Correlation and Causation
    For your data analysis, study correlation, the relationship or association between two or more variables, and causation, the idea that a change in one variable causes a change in another. Learn how to identify whether a correlation exists between your variables, and to distinguish the form and strength of that relationship. Note that establishing correlation does not establish causation. x
  • 21
    From Bivariate to Multivariate Analysis
    In this final lesson on quantitative analysis, study three important analytic tools: cross-tabulation tables, which allow us to visually examine the relationship between two variables; chi-squared values, which indicate how likely it is that any pattern or relationship we observe is due to chance; and linear regression, useful in establishing whether one factor or variable causes another. x
  • 22
    Foundations of Qualitative Analysis
    Begin your study of qualitative methods by noting the differences between quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis, which usually involves identifying patterns and meaning in texts. Explore different scenarios where you may want to use a qualitative approach. Then study one overall, basic approach to qualitative analysis, and see how this approach works in practice. x
  • 23
    Qualitative Analysis Variations
    Observe how qualitative analysis is less linear than quantitative approaches, and can involve a re-ordering of the steps in the research process. Review several additional qualitative methods, from “grounded theory,” which looks at the implications of core concepts embedded in data, to methods used to interpret texts, conversations, personal narratives, policy, and decision-making. x
  • 24
    The Art of Presenting Your Findings
    As a final step in the research process, review the range of different approaches to sharing and communicating your findings, from formal to less formal. Take a detailed look at the structure and contents of a formal research report presenting your results, as well as the matters of peer review and the assessment of your work. Conclude with thoughts on the nature and goals of research. x

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Video DVD
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  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
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Instant Audio Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 audio lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
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DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 264-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 264-page printed course guidebook
  • Questions and Answers
  • Explanation of Answers
  • Suggested Readings

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Your professor

Amanda M. Rosen

About Your Professor

Amanda M. Rosen, PhD
Webster University
Amanda M. Rosen is an Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations and a fellow in the Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies at Webster University, where she regularly teaches research methods at both undergraduate and graduate levels. She holds a BA in Political and Economic Studies of Europe from Duke University as well as an MA and a PhD in Political Science from The Ohio State University....
Learn More About This Professor


Effective Research Methods for Any Project is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 14.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How to Achieve Your Best Outstanding advice for anyone in any field of endeavor how to prepare, write, and deliver their research work
Date published: 2020-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Mayo Clinic Diet Interesting and expert instructors make the depth of science and practical advice enjoyable and inspiring. Light years better than reading a book.
Date published: 2020-07-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Left leaning examples, but research techniques ok I only got through the first two lectures. The examples she used to prove her points were in themselves fraught with inconsistencies and she neglected to point out how her own biases and assumptions about the studies and data were flawed WHILE using the examples to highlight how to spot biases and assumptions. I found it very brow-beating. I am a doctoral student and wanted to get another angle on research techniques, but I don't think I can take listening to the lecturer to glean nuggets that might be helpful.
Date published: 2020-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Breakfast in Town Way to go, TGC, for producing this course. While highly beneficial for students pursuing advanced degrees and professionals who need to read or conduct/write up their research, it has limited value to the average TGC customer. So for TGC to make this course, thanks. Really liked this course. It’s an outstanding introduction to research basics. Follow through with the 24 lectures and you’ll come away with a solid foundation on effective research methods. But you can’t expect to charge out of the gates right away. Research is something you have to do actively because there is a learning curve to getting it right. It's a hands-on experience. This course gives you the background info, the necessary jargon, and tips for success. Following up on some of the references would pay dividends. Professor Rosen does a wonderful job communicating, and she’s very comfortable and confident in front of a camera. There is some difficult material introduced, but she includes a lot of memorable sidebars and examples that serve to get the point across. Better teachers don’t just unload information Wikipedia style. Regarding some reviews I read, well, they are indeed very telling. They speak for themselves. There’s a reason they’re outliers.
Date published: 2019-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love This Course - worth buying. I had done research in college and definitely at work, but I always had the feeling I wasn't working as well as I could. This course, "Effective Research Methods for Any Project" made me aware that I can now use their methods for Many other activities. I'm retired now, so the grandkids are always pushing to know about various ancestors. I know now I can go through a lot more records (and knowing where to find those out-of-way places where they are kept that I never knew before.) Thank you, The Great Courses!!
Date published: 2019-06-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from It's an extended ad for the Democrat Party In almost every lecture, the author misrepresents current events stories in order to convince her listeners not to vote for the political party she obvious opposes. Research methods is an important topic, but you should look elsewhere for materials that are fair and balanced.
Date published: 2019-06-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not worth it Worthless absolutely a waste of time. Had to return it
Date published: 2019-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A comprehensive treatment of research methods This course provides a survey of the relevant issues in research projects. In all cases, enough guidance is provided for a student to explore more deeply when motivated. Some of the explanations are wonderful. For example, the discussion of correlation and causality is amazing. It is very useful and comforting to have such a comprehensive treatment all in one place. Dr. Rosen projects tremendous energy into each lesson and illustrates comprehensive knowledge of each subject. It is a good and often needed course and reference.
Date published: 2019-05-27
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