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Professor Lotte Bailyn
Professor Jesper B. Sorensen

Course Overview

This course is designed to lay the foundations of good empirical research in the social sciences. It does not deal with specific techniques per se, but rather with the assumptions and the logic underlying social research. Students become acquainted with a variety of approaches to research design, and are helped to develop their own research projects and to evaluate the products of empirical research.

Students will work in groups to design and carry out a small research project. Group results will be presented orally to the class at various points during the semester, with a final public presentation that will be open to the Sloan community. A group written report is due at the end of the semester. There will also be 2 individual assignments.


One text is available at the bookstore and also on reserve in the library:

Amazon logo Singleton, R. A., Jr., and Bruce C. Straits. Approaches to Social Research. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0195105257. (S&S)

Readings will also be made available.


Group Project 50%
Assignment I 15%
Assignment II 15%
Participation 20%

Individual Assignments
  1. Due five days after lecture 6 (15% of grade)
    You will be asked to write a paragraph analyzing some data you will be given in lecture 6. You will attach one table (in presentational form) to the paragraph and should refer to this table in your paragraph. It is not necessary to do any statistical tests for this assignment. Two copies should be handed in five days after lecture 6, one for discussion (anonymously) in lecture 7, and one to be corrected, commented on, and graded.

  2. Due in lecture 11 (15% of grade)
    You will be asked to do a methodological analysis of an article, which will be given out in lecture 9. You will have four articles to choose from for this assignment.