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Course Syllabus

ISF 189: Introduction to Research Methods


Professor Bhandari
Summer 2015

Description
This three-unit class is an introduction to research methods in the social sciences and allied fields, leading
students through different units built around specific learning goals and practical exercises. The course is
designed to teach a range of research skills, including (but not limited to) the use of threshold concepts
(essential ideas in a discipline) in new and creative ways; the ability to formulate research questions and
to engage in scholarly conversations and arguments; the identification, evaluation, mobilization, and
interpretation of sources; methods and instruments of field research (interviews, questionnaires, and
sampling) and statistical thinking; and the construction of viable arguments and explanation in the human
sciences. The course also introduces students to specific disciplinary works and exemplary
interdisciplinary studies. Although designed to teach students a wide range of methodological
approaches and research skills, the course is also intended to help students identify their own Senior
Thesis topic, bibliography, and methodology in preparation for ISF 190, the Senior Thesis Seminar.
Required readings:
Books:
Shamus Khan and Dana R. Fisher, The Practice of Research: How Social Scientists
Answer Their Questions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) This book will be under files in
bcourses
Neil Smelser and John Reed, Usable Social Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012) This
book is available free as an e-book through the library
Gary Smith, Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data and Other Ways to Lie With
Statistics
James J. Heckman, Giving Kids a Fair Chance (A Strategy That Works) (Cambridge:
MIT Press, 2013) This book will be under files in bcourses

Other readings can also be found under files in b-courses

Attendance and Reading


Attendance at all lectures is required. Readings assigned for that day are to be finished before class
convenes.
Examinations and Grading
The four exams will count 20% each toward the final exam.
Attendance and participation will count 20% towards the final grade.
The pop quizzes will not count towards the final grade.
Honor Code:
The student community at UC Berkeley has adopted the following Honor Code: As a member of the UC
Berkeley community, I act with honesty, integrity, and respect for others. The expectation is that you will
adhere to this code both inside the classroom and outside. Reviewing lecture and reading materials and
studying for exams can be enjoyable and enriching things to do with fellow students. This is
recommended. However, unless otherwise instructed, homework assignments are to be completed
independently and materials submitted as homework should be the result of ones own independent
work.
The University code of ethics is very severe on academic misconduct, i. e. plagiarism and cheating. All
written work submitted for a course, except for acknowledged quotations, must be expressed in the
student's own words. It must also be constructed upon a plan of the student's own devising. Work copied
without acknowledgement from a book, from another student's paper, from the internet, or from any other
source is plagiarized. Plagiarism can range from wholesale copying of passages from another's work to
using the views, opinions, and insights of another without acknowledgement, to paraphrasing another
person's original phrases without acknowledgement. All sources must therefore be documented and all
usage of other material must be clearly cited in your papers. Plagiarism and cheating will have dramatic
consequences for you, from failing the assignment to failing the entire course. Allcases will also be
referred to the Student Judicial Affairs, which can impose a variety of sanctions that can extend all the
way to University expulsion. Please feel free to ask your instructor about how to integrate secondary
materials into your own writing. For a full copy of the University code, see: http://sa.berkeley.edu/code-ofconduct. For guidelines on plagiarism, see: http://sa.berkeley.edu/cite-responsibly.

5/26 Introduction
5/27 What Makes Social Science Usable
Discuss Smelser and Reed, 1-14; Bent Flyvberg on b-courses
5/28 Determining the Spatio-Temporal Aspects of Research
Discuss S&R, 15-52
6/1 Determining the Psychology of Actors. Reviewing the Role of Sanctions in Social Life
Discuss S&R 53-120 Pop Quiz
6/2 Studying the Nature of Networks
Discuss S&R 121-184
6/3 Investigating Organizations and Organizational Change and Economic Development and Social
Change
Discuss S&R 185-253
6/4 Usability of Social Science
Discuss S&R 254-354
6/8 Exam
6/9 Experiment and Ethnography
Discuss Khan and Fisher on b-courses, pp. 1-49, 90-107
6/10 Audit Methodology

Devah Pager on b-courses


6/11 Using Existing Documents
Discuss Khan and Fisher on b-courses 127-187
6/15 Exam
6/16 Quantitative Methods
Smith, 1-70
6/17 Quantitative Methods
Smith 71-158 Pop Quiz
6/18 Quantitative Methods
Smith 159-212
6/22 Quantitative Methods
Smith 213-299
6/23 Exam
6/24 Interpretation of Cultures
Stuart Hall (2 pieces) on b-courses
6/25 Interpretation of Cultures
Clifford Geertz on b-courses
6/29 Historical-comparative analysis
Acemoglu and Robinson on b-courses
6/30 Public Policy
Heckman on b-courses
7/1 Review

7/2 Exam