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Research Methods


Admission requirements

Not applicable


Sound research design skills are critical for business students’ long term success, either for designing and executing their own research to solve various business problems or for engaging with academics and consultants to gain insights for business development. The goal of this course is to provide students with an overview of research design, for business research in particular and social research in general. The course covers the logic of scientific research and research design across a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, in order to develop a general understanding of the problems of research design and the specifics of implementing various research methods.
The course consists of online lectures, online interactive Q&A sessions, and assignments.
Topics covered

  • Logic of science

  • Principles of research design

  • Theory and hypothesis

  • Measurement

  • Sampling

  • Different modes of observations:
    o Experiments
    o Survey
    o Field research
    o Unobtrusive research

Course objectives

This course provides students with skills and knowledge which are necessary in the research process and the application of qualitative and quantitative research methods in order to solve the business problems. At the end of this course students will be able to

  • Raise interesting and relevant research questions;

  • Develop good hypotheses;

  • Conduct an in-depth literature review;

  • Think critically about prior studies, in particular various threats to validity;

  • Understand principles of research design;

  • Understand basic components of various research methods, as well as their strengths and weaknesses;

  • Design a rigorous research project, covering the complete process from conceptualization to operationalization;

  • Draft an academic research/project proposal with scientific rigor.


Semester 2
7 May 2020 - 11 June 2020

Mode of instruction

Online lectures, students can watch recorded video lectures anytime.
Online interactive Q&A sessions, fixed time (Thursdays 11:15-13:00), students can voluntarily join.

Course Load

10 times 3 hour lectures
Preparation and assignments

Assessment method

Individual assignments (all assignments should be submitted on Blackboard)

  • HAssignment 1: Research question and hypotheses (10%)

  • Assignment 2: Nonspuriousness and measurement (10%)

  • Assignment 3: List of publications (10%)

  • HAssignment 4: Research proposal (70%)

Grading policy:

  • Assignment 1-3 are intermediate steps for Assignment 4. Assignment 1-3 is counted only if its grade is higher than the grade of Assignment 4. If lower, then its weight is assigned to Assignment 4.

  • In order to pass the course, students must have a final grade of at least 5.5. The final grade is rounded off to the nearest half or integer.

  • Students who fail Assignment 4 can re-do the assignment within a specified time frame. The second attempt will be graded using the same criteria as the initial attempt but with a 1-point grade penalty. Students who fail the second attempt will not have a third chance for re-take. No re-takes are offered for Assignment 1-3.

  • The deadline for each assignment is binding; missing the deadline will automatically lead to a grade of 0.

  • Under special personal circumstances, e.g., sickness, family issues, deadline extension can be granted. Please direct such requests to the Study Adviser, Loes van der Hulst-Scheffer. The study advisor is the one to make an assessment of a student’s confidential, personal information, not the teacher.



Reading list

Earl Babbie, (2016). The practice of social research (14e). Cengage Learning. ISBN-10: 1-305-10494-3, ISBN-13: 978-1-305-10494-5. [Any edition is fine. Chapter numbers in this syllabus are based on Babbie (2016, 14e).]
Additional readings are listed in the table of class schedule.


You have to sign up for classes and examinations (including resits) in uSis.
There is only limited capacity for external students. Please contact the programme coordinator


For any questions contact the Business Studies coordinator

Note: If you are an ICTiBPS student, you can contact the programme coordinator of ICTiBPS for any questions about your program.

Lecturer: Dr. J. Wang,
Skype for business:


Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.