Research Methods

The research methods course covers the most relevant quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including laboratory experiments, focus groups and in depth interviews. Still, its main focus is public opinion research. Students learn, first of all, how to translate research questions into questionnaire questions. Then, they gain knowledge of the principles and different types of sampling, the criteria to establish the reliability and validity of the research instruments, as well as the fundamental methods to carry out the interview. The course pays special attention to survey strategies that enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of opinion polls, such as indirect questions, scales to measure attitudes, or split ballots. Finally, students get familiar with basic techniques to interpret and evaluate the outcomes of the interviews.

In addition to a midterm quiz and a final exam, students have to design and carry through a research project, which starts with the definitions of the research goals and ends with the evaluation of the interview outcomes.