(URBN 7020)

Mickey Lauria
College of Urban and Public Affairs
University of New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Fall 2002
Mickey Lauria's Comments on Course

Objectives and Organization | Requirements | Required Books | Schedule and Readings

Instructor: Mickey Lauria (280-7106) at

Departmental website:

Class Meeting Times: Wednesday 5:30 - 8:15 PM at Math 118
Office Hours: By Appointment

This course has two objectives. The first is to develop an understanding of and basic skills in the design of empirical research for answering social science and policy research questions. In this regard, the course complements required doctoral courses in qualitative methods and statistical analysis. By building on those courses and the information and methods covered during the semester, you will be able to design and execute empirical research. In the companion to this course, URBN 7030 Research Practicum, you will be able practice the skills you begin to develop during this semester. In combination, URBN 7020 and URBN 7030 are designed to help you further develop the skills needed to execute a dissertation project.

The second objective is to foster an ability to critically evaluate the products of empirical research. In that regard, we recognize that you will be both producing and consuming research during the course of your career. Using the material covered during the semester you will be in a better position to discern good research from bad research — an important skill, because what we know about the world (government programs, business decisions, etc.) is based, in part, on the products of empirical research.

The course is organized into four sections.

  • The first examines the scientific and logical foundations of social science research.

  • The second introduces the basic terminology of social science research design and looks at a number of key elements and decisions in executing a research project, including conceptualization and measurement; converting concepts into operational measures; creating indexes, scales, and typologies; and sampling.

  • The third examines different ways of gathering data to answer research questions (experiments, surveys, field research, case studies, available data, and mixed methods), along with data processing and research ethics.

  • The final part of the course is devoted to the presentation and critique of student-generated proposals for research that will be conducted during URBN 7030.

Seminar sessions will combine diagnostic quizzes, discussion of key concepts and points by the instructors, and student-led review and discussion of the assigned reading.

One student will be assigned as discussion leader for each class session, but all students are responsible for completing the assigned reading prior to class and considering the review questions and exercises that follow each chapter in the principal text (Singleton and Straits). Since all seminar participants will have read the assigned reading, discussion leaders should avoid merely summarizing what they have read, although provision of an outline of the reading will be useful. Instead, discussion leaders should focus class attention on key issues or considerations raised in the assigned reading, bring to seminar participants' attention ancillary reading from the research methods bibliography, and in other ways supplement what we learn from the assigned reading.

In many seminar sessions, students also will be responsible for presenting the results of short exercises designed to provide practice in using the concepts discussed in the reading assignments. These include: construction of operational measures of concepts; construction of samples; and outlines of research designs using experimental, case study, and survey methods. Material prepared by discussion leaders and all student assignments to be presented at class sessions must be distributed to seminar participants by 5:00 PM of the Monday before class at the latest. Material may be distributed via e-mail attachments to the instructors and to participants.

Finally, at the conclusion of the course, students are responsible for preparing a detailed research design in the form of a research proposal, which will be presented during the final class session on December 4. The paper presenting the proposal is due December 6. No incompletes other than for medical reasons will be given.

The formal requirements of the course are:

1. Class participation - 20%
2. Class exercises and presentations - 40%
3. Final research design - 40%


Cook, Thomas D., and Donald T. Campbell
1979. Quasi-Experimentation: Design and Analysis Issues for Field Settings.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
ISBN 0 395 30790 2; H62 .C5857

Monmonier, Mark
1999. How to Lie with Maps.
Chicago: Chicago University Press.
ISBN 0 226 53415 4; G108.7 .M66 1996

Silverman, David
2001. Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analysing Talk, Text and Interaction. London: Sage Publications, Inc.
ISBN 0 7619 6865 2; HM48 .S46 1993

Singleton, Royce A., Jr., and Bruce Straits
1998. Approaches to Social Research.
New York: Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0 19 510525 7

Tashakkori, Abbas, and Charles Teddlie
1998. Mixed Methodology: Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches.
Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, Inc.
ISBN 0 7619 0071 3; H62 .T247 1998

Yin, Robert K.
1994. Case Study Research: Design and Methods.
Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, Inc.
ISBN 0 8039 5663 0; H62 .Y56 1994

Additional assigned readings and ancillary materials are available in a collection of readings (designated "coursepak" in the reading assignments below) available from the instructors.

September 16 operational measures
September 23 sample design
October 7 quasi-experimental design
October 21 case study design
November 28 survey design


Scientific and Logical Foundations of Social Science Research

August 28: Overview of Course and Introduction to Empirical Research
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits: Chapter 1
Coursepak -
Sayer: Chapter 1
(skim the rest for later reference)
The Island of Research
Guide to Preparation of Research Proposal
Proposal Writing Notes
Ray Burby's Ten Latent but Powerful Strategies
Words of Wisdom about Research Questions
Notes on Problem Statement
Obstacles in Research Design
The Inner Game of Writing
Example Proposal Draft
Selected Bibliography of Sources
Accessing Funding as a Graduate Student
September 4: Language and Logic of Scientific Research
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits: Chapters 2 and 3
Coursepak -
Sayer: Chapter 2, 3 and 4
Model of the Process of Empirical Science
On the light side of research design
Student discussion leader


Research Design

September 11: Elements of Research Design
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits: Chapter 4
Coursepak -
Cook and Campbell: Chapter 1
Student discussion leader
September 18:Conceptualization and Measurement
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits: Chapter 5
Coursepak -
Babbie: Chapter 6
Measurement in the Soviet Union
Concept/Construct: Educated Person (example)
Example of Lab Book, Summated Rating Indexes, Reliability Scores (alpha)
Example of Factor Analysis to Evaluate Coercive and Cooperative Constructs
Student discussion leader
Student presentations of operational measure
September 25: Sampling
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits:, Chapter 6
Coursepak -
Notes: Sampling (collection)
Student discussion leader
Student presentations of sample design


Data Collection Design and Method

October 2: Experimental Designs
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits: Chapters 7 and 8
Coursepak -
Cook and Campbell: Chapter 2
Campbell and Stanley: Sources of Invalidity
Student discussion leader
October 9: Quasi-Experimental and Evaluation Research
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits: Chapter 14
Coursepak -
Rossi and Freeman: Chapters 5-8
Evaluation Design of Full Coverage Program
Student discussion leader
Student presentation of quasi-experimental design
October 16: Qualitative Research
Reading assignment -
Silverman: Chapters 1-10
Student discussion leader
October 23: Case Study Research Design
Reading assignment -
Yin: Chapters 1-5
Student discussion leader
Student presentation of case study design
October 30: Survey Designs and Instrumentation
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits: Chapters 9 and 10
Coursepak -
Bricklayer's Report
Survey Techniques: Designs, etc.
Comparison of Face-to-Face Interviews, Telephone Interviews, and Mail Questionnaires
Research Triangle Institute, "Survey Operations"
15 Rules about Question Content
Guide to Questionnaire Construction
Student discussion leader
Student presentation of survey design
November 6: Research Using Available Data and Spatial Concepts
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits: Chapter 12
Monmonier: Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 10

Student discussion leader
November 13: Data Processing and Analysis
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits: Chapters 15 and 16
Coursepak -
Nagler, "Coding Style and Good Computing Practices"
Codebook Examples
Regression Diagnostics
King, "How Not to Lie with Statistics" (notes)
Student discussion leader
November 20: Mixed-Methods
Reading assignment -
Tashakkori and Teddlie: Chapters 1- 9
Coursepak -
Gaber and Gaber
Student discussion leader
November 27: Research Ethics/Human Subjects/Reporting Results
Reading assignment -
Singleton and Straits: Chapters 17 and 18
Coursepak -
"What They Really Mean"
Florence King on Plagiarism
Attribution vs. Co-authorship in Collaborative Research
Summary of Regulations Regarding the Use of Human Subjects in Research
(UNC-Chapel Hill UNO Human Subjects Review)
Welch, "Ethical and Legal Issues Affecting Thesis/Dissertation Research
Student discussion leader


Student Research Designs

December 4: Student Presentation of Final Research Designs

December 6: Final Research Proposal Due by 5 PM.

Comments on Course
Mickey Lauria

9 June 2002

The URBN 7020 class is for 2nd or 3rd year Ph.D. students depending on the focus of their progress. It is a research design seminar that leads to a pilot dissertation proposal (final product for first semester) to be used to do a pilot study the next semester. The idea is that after the pilot study, the student should be able to rewrite the dissertation proposal with some real understanding of what they can actually accomplish. It's been very successful.

Of recent years we have changed the requirement for Urban History Ph.D. majors. These students no longer take the 7020-7030 sequence—rather they take historical research methods and a two course sequence of pro-seminars that get them into particular archives (our historians see this as the best way for them to make progress—to me this seems more like a "seat of your pants" or "sink or swim" approach, but vive la difference).

Syllabus prepared for the H-Urban Syllabus Archive 21 October 2002.