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All Social Sciences Research Methods Programme courses

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Multilevel Modelling Wed 11 Mar 2020   09:30 [Full]

In this module, students will be introduced to multilevel modelling, also known as hierarchical linear modelling. MLM allows the user to analyse how outcomes are influenced by factors acting at multiple levels. So, for example, we might conceptualise children's educational process as being influenced by individual or family-level factors, as well as by factors operating at the level of the school or the neighbourhood. Similarly, outcomes for prisoners might be influenced by individual and/or family-level characteristics, as well as by the characteristics of the prison in which they are detained.

  • Introduction to Stata/MLM theory
  • Applications I - Random intercept models
  • Applications II - Random slope models
  • Applications III - Revision session/growth models
NVivo Mon 19 Nov 2018   14:00 Finished

These two sessions will provide a basic introduction to the management and analysis of qualitative data using NVivo 12 for Windows*. The sessions will introduce participants to the following:

  • consideration of the advantages and limitations of using qualitative analysis software such as NVivo 12
  • setting-up a research project in NVivo
  • the use of NVivo’s menus and tool bars
  • importing and organising data
  • starting data analysis using NVivo’s coding tools
  • exploring data using query and visualization tools

Please note: NVivo for Mac will not be covered.

Panel Data Analysis (Intensive) Wed 26 Feb 2020   09:00 [Full]

This module provides an applied introduction to panel data analysis (PDA). Panel data are gathered by taking repeated observations from a series of research units (eg. individuals, firms) as they move through time. This course focuses primarily on panel data with a large number of research units tracked for a relatively small number of time points.

The module begins by introducing key concepts, benefits and pitfalls of PDA. Students are then taught how to manipulate and describe panel data in Stata. The latter part of the module introduces random and fixed effects panel models for continuous and dichotomous outcomes. The course is taught through a mixture of lectures and practical sessions designed to give students hands-on experience of working with real-world data from the British Household Panel Survey.

  • Introduction to PDA: Concepts and uses
  • Manipulating and describing panel data
  • An overview of random effects, fixed effects and ‘hybrid’ panel models
  • Panel models for dichotomous outcomes

This course will introduce students to the general philosophical debates concerning scientific methodology, assessing their ramifications for the conduct of qualitative social research. It will enable students to critically evaluate major programmes in the philosophy of sciences, considering whether there are important analytic differences between the social and natural sciences; and whether qualitative methods themselves comprise a unified approach to the study of social reality.

Power Analysis Mon 11 Feb 2019   14:00 Finished

This two-hour short course will introduce students to the concept of power analysis (also known as power calculations), type I and II errors, and how to do power analysis for T test, correlation and analysis of variance. Students should not expect to learn complex power analysis for structural equation modeling, multilevel modeling (the SSRMC offers individual courses on both) in this introductory course (Stata currently does not have commands for these analyses). This course aims to provide an easy and intuitive rationale behind the technique, as well as hands-on practice in how to perform power analysis in Stata.

Power analysis is an important skill for anyone doing statistical research; it is particularly useful when writing a grant proposal, and is sometimes required by funders. It involves calculating the number of observations required to undertake a given statistical analysis. If a sample is too small, significant associations may not be detectable, even though they may be present in the population from which the sample is drawn. Power analysis is useful when:

  • You plan to collect data for research, and want to calculate how many subjects are needed
  • You need to plan how much time and/or money to allow for a research project
  • Your face budget constraints in your research, and need to establish whether the research is feasible
  • You are writing a grant proposal which asks for a power calculation
Practical introduction to MATLAB Programming Thu 10 Oct 2019   10:00 Finished

This module is shared with Psychology. Students from the Department of Psychology MUST book places on this course via the Department; any bookings made by Psychology students via the SSRMP portal will be cancelled.

The course focuses on practical hands-on variable handling and programming implementation using rather than on theory. This course is intended for those who have never programmed before, including those who only call/run Matlab scripts but are not familiar with how code works and how matrices are handled in Matlab. (Note that calling a couple of scripts is not 'real' programming.)

MATLAB (C) is a powerful scientific programming environment optimal for data analysis and engineering solutions. More information on the programme and its uses can be found here

More information on the course can be found here

Propensity Score Matching Wed 19 Feb 2020   09:00 [Places]

Propensity score matching (PSM) is a technique that simulates an experimental study in an observational data set in order to estimate a causal effect. In an experimental study, subjects are randomly allocated to “treatment” and “control” groups; if the randomisation is done correctly, there should be no differences in the background characteristics of the treated and non-treated groups, so any differences in the outcome between the two groups may be attributed to a causal effect of the treatment. An observational survey, by contrast, will contain some people who have been subject to the “treatment” and some people who have not, but they will not have not been randomly allocated to those groups. The characteristics of people in the treatment and control groups may differ, so differences in the outcome cannot be attributed to the treatment. PSM attempts to mimic the experimental situation trial by creating two groups from the sample, whose background characteristics are virtually identical. People in the treatment group are “matched” with similar people in the control group. The difference between the treatment and control groups in this case should may therefore more plausibly be attributed to the treatment itself. PSM is widely applied in many disciplines, including sociology, criminology, economics, politics, and epidemiology. The module covers the basic theory of PSM, the steps in the implementation (e.g. variable choice for matching and types of matching algorithms), and assessment of matching quality. We will also work through practical exercises using Stata, in which students will learn how to apply the technique to the analysis of real data and how to interpret the results.

Psychometrics Tue 15 Oct 2019   14:00 Finished

An introduction to the design, validation and implementation of tests and questionnaires in social science research, using both Classical Test Theory (CTT) and modern psychometric methods such as Item Response Theory (IRT). This course aims to enable students to: be able to construct and validate a test or questionnaire; understand the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of existing tests and questionnaires; appreciate the impact and potential of modern psychometric methods in the internet age.

Week 1: Introduction to psychometrics
a. Psychometrics, ancient and modern. Classical Test Theory
b. How to design and build your own psychometric test

Week 2: Testing in the online environment
a. Testing via the internet. How to, plus do’s and don’ts
b. Putting your test online

Week 3: Modern Psychometrics
a. Item Response Theory (IRT) models and their assumptions
b. Advanced assessment using computer adaptive testing

Week 4: Implementing adaptive tests online
a. How to automatically generate ability items
b. Practical

Public Policy Analysis Mon 24 Feb 2020   14:00 [Places]

The analysis of policy depends on many disciplines and techniques and so is difficult for many researchers to access. This module provides a mixed perspective on policy analysis, taking both an academic and a practitioner perspective. This is because the same tools and techniques can be used in academic research on policy options and change as those used in practice in a policy environment. This course is provided as three 2 hour sessions delivered as a mix of lectures and seminars. No direct analysis work will be done in the sessions themselves, but some sample data and questions will be provided for students who wish to take the material into practice.

Qualitative Interviews with Vulnerable Groups new Tue 11 Feb 2020   14:00 [Full]

Qualitative interviews are often used in the social sciences to learn more about the world and can be particularly appropriate for people we might class as vulnerable. The course will try to achieve two things. First, it will have a strong practical arc, guiding students through the complete process of designing and delivering interviews and what to do with the data when you have it. It is particularly important, therefore, that students come to the course prepared with a research question in mind (it does not have to be your actual dissertation topic). Second, we will repeatedly think carefully about the challenges of interviewing with populations that are deemed vulnerable (especially prisoners, women in the criminal justice system, and people living with trauma). We will explore how, in all stages of the research cycle, questions of ethics and the importance of understanding ‘whole people’ remain pertinent.

In the first session we will think about how to frame a study and research question, and how to design an interview schedule that allows you to access your question sensibly and creatively! We will also think about the challenges of interviewing those with trauma, in particular, as a case study.

In the second session we will think through the challenges of actually undertaking interviews in the field. Many hints and tip will be shared, and students will be encouraged to undertake a short mock interview.

In the third session we explore various ways in which to approach a mass of interview data and different approaches towards analysis.

In the final session, we burrow down into analysis and talk about how to write up your research.

In both of the final sessions students will be asked to engage with real interview transcripts that have been anonymised.

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