Research Methodology: From research question to research proposal - 4 ECTS

This 4 ECTS course offers you an overview of the entire research cycle, with an emphasis on the technical design.

Organised by Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)

Mon 28 February 2022 until Fri 18 March 2022

Room This course will be offered in hybrid or online format, depending on the current measures

We will be starting with a brief evaluation of proper research questions and hypotheses to continue with operationalization, the study design (e.g. experiment, cross-sectional), and sampling design (random, non-random, systematic). We’ll discuss important issues that need consideration to design data collection (qualitative, quantitative or mixed) including the choice of research instruments; research ethics and research integrity; and finally, reporting the research and research design in a scientific manner.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants are (among other things) able to:

  1. Explain the differences between a conceptual and technical research design
  2. Understand the relation between research questions and research approaches
  3. Describe the defining features (e.g. level of control by the researcher, number of data collection waves) of an appropriate study design
  4. Explain the (threats to) internal validity associated with the chosen study design.
  5. Understand when qualitative research is appropriate, when quantitative research is appropriate, and, when mixed methods research is appropriate
  6. Understand the basic principles of operationalization of one- and multidimensional concepts
  7. Describe the pros and cons of different data collection methods
  8. Explain (threats to) reliability and measurement validity of chosen data collection instruments
  9. Clarify what random, non-random, and systematic sampling is about
  10. Describe how a chosen sampling design relates to different forms of generalizability (e.g. external validity).
  11. Evaluate and present research design in terms of:  internal validity, reliability, measurement validity, different forms of triangulation, different forms of generalizability, and different forms of saturation.


    We expect students to bring to the course well-developed research questions. In addition, students are expected to have sorted out their theoretical framework. The course is designed in such a way that student can work on either their PhD project proposal, or on a particular study within their project.

    General course setup

    This course consists of lecturing with (online) class-room exercises and self-study. In addition, students will apply principles of research design to their own project.

    Week 1 and week 2
    Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday 9 – 12h: classes.
    Rest of the day: self-study and work on your research design
    Friday: catching up and any other business

    Week 3
    Monday 9 – 12h: extra class or opportunity to consult lecturer
    Tuesday and Wednesday 9.30 – 12.30h: opportunity to consult lecturer
    Rest of the day: self-study and work on your research design
    Thursday morning: presentations of students’ research design & closure

    Course materials:

    • Tobi H, Kampen JK (2018). Research design: the Methodology for Interdisciplinary Research framework. Quality & Quantity 52(3) 1209-1225. DOI 10.1007/s11135-0513-8.
    • Chapters from Kumar R.  (…). Research Methodology: a step-by-step guide for beginners. Any edition up from the 3rd will do. Please note that the 5th edition is available from
    • Other papers and videos will be announced.

    Course fees

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

    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.