Qualitative Research Methods

Tbilisi State University    

Spring 2012

Manoucher Shiva, Ph.D.

Office Hours
Wednesdays: 2-4 pm
Fridays:  4-5 pm

Course Overview
This course is an introduction to qualitative methods used by anthropologists for data gathering, as well as data description and analysis. We will cover qualitative data collection methods such as participant-observation and in-depth interviews. We will also cover a number of methods to analyze the data such as the grounded theory method, discourse analysis, and narrative analysis.

 We will begin by examining the research act as a scientific endeavor and then continue by exploring and using common qualitative research methods employed by anthropologists today.

Through a variety of exercises, you will gather and analyze some data on your own.

The main goals of this course is to help the students to gain experience in evaluating the research of others, and planning and conducting their own qualitative research by focusing on the following:

1) Identifying Reasonable Research Problems

2) Selecting Appropriate Research Methods

3) Developing Research Strategies

4) Collecting and Analyzing Data

5) Reporting Research Findings in Written and Oral Forms

6) Writing a Draft of a Research Proposal

Throughout the course we will focus on the ethics of undertaking research and the effects of the political climate in which research takes place.



Class Attendance. Attendance is required, and absences will be taken into account in determining the participation component of your grade (see below).

Class Participation. This class is a group effort, and will include much dialogue and discussion. The more members of the class contribute and are actively engaged in our discussions, the better the class will be. Participation also counts towards your grade (see below).

Class Readings. Do the readings listed prior to class. The readings are necessary for adequate class participation. All readings are from online sources.

This course includes a series of data gathering and data analysis exercises, as well as writing a draft of a research proposal.


Class Attendance and Participation 20%
This course will mostly be conducted as a seminar. I expect you to come to class prepared to talk. Most class time will be devoted to discussing the issues raised in the readings and doing of the assignments. A “Socratic method” will be used in class: it requires students to answer and debate questions as a means of learning. Classes will clarify and expand upon the main ideas, issues, and findings in the assigned reading and assignments largely though student questions, comments, and responses to the instructor’s questions. It is essential to the success of this course that you complete all of the reading and assignments prior to each class. In seminars the emphasis is on collaborative learning as something we all do actively together.

Data Gathering and Data Analysis Assignments 50%
This class is based on hands-on learning. We learn by doing assignments that are related to readings related to specific aspects of qualitative research methods and then discussing them in the class. The data gathering and data analysis assignments are conducted in small groups.

Research Proposal 30%
Writing a research proposal is another main aspect of this class. Writing a research proposal will help the students to learn better various aspects of different qualitative research methods and of the process of doing research.

The completed research proposal will include at least the following elements:

a) A statement of the topic under consideration (what you propose to study, why it is important).

b) A review of the relevant anthropological and other literature that deals with the topic or methods you intend to employ in your research,

c) A detailed statement concerning the methods that you propose to use to study the topic you have selected (how you intend to go about the research and why you have selected particular methods to use),

d) A proposed budget to carry out the research, and

e) The significance of the proposed project (why it should be undertaken and what it will contribute to knowledge

You will present a brief overview of your proposal at the end of the term. Writing the research proposals could also be done in small groups.


Course Outline

1) Methodologies of Social Research – Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

2) Research Ethics

3) Research Design

4) Observation and Participant-Observation

5) In-Depth Interviews

6) Life Histories

7) Case Studies

8) Grounded-Theory Method

9) Discourse analysis

10) Narrative analysis

11) Archival Research

12) Media Studies

13) Museum Collections Studies

14) Reflexivity and the Politics of Representation

15) Ethnography

16) Writing Research Proposals


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