Research Methodology: From topic to proposal - 4 ECTS

“The project proposal appeared so clear but now I do not know where to start.”
“I do not know what my research could add to clarify this issue. It is so obvious what the outcome is going to be.”
“Really, everything in my project is so important and interesting. I guess I need some help to learn how to focus.”

Do you recognize any of the above concerns? Then this course is for you! Also, when you have little idea about what aspects of methodology could be important to your project, then this course is of interest for you too!

Organised by Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)

Tue 9 March 2021 until Tue 4 May 2021

Room This course will be offered online

Aim of this course:

The aim of this course is to offer insight into the process of (getting started with) research and the methodological pitfalls you may encounter between formulating a research problem and writing a scientific paper. This course addresses research design and methodological issues for quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods strategies.

In this course we go through the steps from turning a socially relevant interest into a scientifically sound research problem, writing a research proposal and composing a research report. Assignments require you to work on your own project. By the end of this course you will have developed a (skeleton) research or a paper proposal, depending on your entrance level and the complexity of the PhD proposal.

Topics in the course are:
• Research as a way of thinking
• Research as a process
• Formulating research questions
• From concept to variable
• Choosing a research design
• Types of data collection instruments
• Sampling
• Ethical issues in data collection


Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  1. Formulate research questions and decide on the appropriateness of hypotheses

  2. Make an informed choice between a number of study designs

  3. Review pros and cons of several data collection methods

  4. Decide on a sampling strategy suitable for their research


The course will be completed after the final course assignment has been reviewed and approved as sufficient.


Session 1 9-3-2021 9.00-12.30
Session 2 23-3-2021 9.00-12.30
Session 3 6-4-2021 9.00-12.30
Session 4 20-4-2021 9.00-12.30
Session 5 4-5-2021 9.00-12.30

Target group and min/max number of participants

PhD candidates in the Social/Environmental Sciences. Maximum number of participants is 20.

Assumed prior knowledge

Sufficient knowledge of English:
Participants who are obliged to pass a TOEFL or IELTS test as a prerequisite for entering the WU PhD-programme are requested to provide us with the positive results of the TOEFL or IELTS test.

  • IELTS: 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 for each (academic) module.
  • TOEFL: 580 points for the written TOEFL, 237 points for the computer based TOEFL and 92-93 points for the internet based TOEFL. All are to be supplemented by results of the Test of Written English (academic TWE). The minimum score required for this test is 5.0


The sessions will be held in building “De Leeuwenborch”, Hollandseweg 1 in Wageningen, The Netherlands. The exact rooms will be announced later.

Course fees

WGS PhDs with TSP € 325
Other PhDs, postdocs and academic staff € 650
Participants from the private sector € 975

NB: for some courses, PhD candidates from other WUR graduate schools with a TSP are also entitled to a reduced fee. Please consult your Education/PhD Programme Coordinator for more information

The course fee includes the book (Kumar 2014).

Cancellation conditions:

Participants can cancel their registration free of charge 1 month before the course starts. A cancellation fee of 100% applies if a participant cancels his/her registration less than 1 month prior to the start of the course.

The organisers have the right to cancel the course no later than one month before the planned course start date in the case that the number of registrations does not reach the minimum.

The participants will be notified of any changes at their e-mail addresses.