Methodology of Science

General information

Summer term 2019/2020, Thursday, 09:05–10:35, room G20

Course description: The aim of this course is to provide students with an overview of the basic concepts pertaining to scientific research, with special regard to social science and the humanities. As students of this course, you will learn how to formulate a research project, design research questions, propose hypotheses and devise methods of hypothesis-testing. Upon finishing the course, you will be able to make an informed opinion on the wider social importance of the scientific enterprise, on the distinction between science and pseudoscience, on the relation between natural and social science (and the humanities), and on the nature of scientific progress.

Syllabus in PDF

Course feedback

You are encouraged to use this anonymous form to leave feedback on the course. Please feel free to do so multiple times.

Basic literature

  • Bielik's Methodology of Science: An Introduction (2019)
  • This book is only available in electronic form. You can download it and print the required parts if you like, or put it on a tablet if you have one.

Recommended literature

  • Here's a list of recommended literature.
    • All of the books are available here. You have to download the whole archive by clicking the icon in the upper right corner.
    • The archive is password-protected. I will give you the password in class. You can also e-mail me about it.


    • As always, there's assigned reading for next week – see syllabus.

Exam topics

Click here to see the exam topics.

Obligatory assignment

  • None for Tuesday Apr 21.
  • For Tuesday Apr 28:
    • Find an (actually existing) example of empirical research from the 20th or 21st century that is related to one of the courses you're taking this semester (except Methodology of Science), took last semester, or will be taking next semester.
    • Provide a reference: either to the research itself or to a source where you’ve read about it. (1 point)
      • Books and scientific journal articles only. Webpages will not be accepted. Online books, e.g. on are fine. You can also use the sites I've e-mailed you about to find books or articles.
      • Please also write down which course the research relates to.
    • Try to answer the following questions:
      • What was the (cognitive) problem the research was attempting to solve? (In other words, what was the research question?) (1 point)
        • Try to be as specific as possible (“What is culture?” or “What is the history of the Polish language?” is not specific enough)
        • Was the research exploratory, descriptive, correlational, or explanatory? (see latest presentation)
      • Were any hypotheses formulated by the researcher(s)? (3 points)
        • If so, what were they and how were they tested? What empirical methods were used?
        • What was the result of testing? Was the problem solved? Did the research to any new problems/questions? What were they?
      • Alternatively, If no hypotheses were formulated, how did the research proceed? (3 points)
        • What methods were used?
        • What were the results? Did they lead to any new problems/questions? What were they?
    • No more than one page, please. The whole assignment can be done in two paragraphs.
    • Note: Keep in mind we are interested in empirical research. This excludes, for example, cases that compare two (or more) theories or reflect on the concepts used in a discipline. These would be examples of conceptual or theoretical research. The research you use should involve the use of observation (note that this includes various methods of social research, such as reading historical sources, doing interviews etc.), measurement (including questionnaires or the use of existing statistical data), or experiment (including natural experiments, i.e. not in laboratory conditions).
      • Valid examples of topics:
        • the history of a certain region, its language, culture (including cultural artifacts etc.) or politics (including institutions)
        • comparisons of different cultures and cultural phenomena, languages
        • the social characteristics of a country’s population
        • ... (there are many more possibilities – you get the idea!)

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