Social Sciences: Research Methods

Research Methods in Social Sciences help you formulate your research questions and tentative answers to be refuted or supported in your thesis research.

  • The methods you describe should always follow from your questions and be selected to optimize theory-informed, data-driven and transparent tests of your propositions
  • These methods may be large or small ... and they may utilize a wide range of approaches
  • All of these approaches are qualitative - and thus their assumptions need to be transparent ... some of which also have quantitative aspects

Be sure to identify all conventions, assumptions and other potential sources of bias in your methods, as well as possible sources of error.

Your data sources, variables, scaling, as well as analyses and procedures should all be identified, but with the explicit recognition that all are subject to modification as the research proceeds.

  • You should also explain your case selection and sampling procedures (as applicable) - more generally, you should identify and describe the scope of your research, including both geographic and temporal factors

If you are using human subjects in your research in any way, you need to include the following assurance that these human subjects - and information about them - will be protected through your commitment to adhere to all of Harvard’s Institutional Review Board policies:

  • Please cut and paste this assurance into your proposal:

“All applicable protocols and policies of Harvard University’s Institutional Review Board for the use of human subjects in research will be complied with in this proposed thesis research.”