Methodology of Science

General information

Summer term 2018/2019, Wednesday, 09:05–10:35, room G362

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.

Get the syllabus here (PDF)

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Exam topics

  • The topics covered on the final exam are listed here. I will be updating the list throughout the semester.

Recommended literature

Current assignment (obligatory)

  • 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 books.google.com are fine.
      • 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)
      • Were any hypotheses formulated by the researcher(s)? (3 points)
        • If so, 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?
      • 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?
  • No more than one page, please. The whole assignment can be done in one short paragraph. And no spelling mistakes, please!
  • 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, culture (including cultural artifacts), or language
      • the nature or history of institutions of a country or culture
      • the social characteristics of a country’s population
      • ... (there are many more possibilities – you get the idea!)
  • The previous presentations are your friends, ask them for help.

Previous assignments

Course downloads