This section introduces many of the key approaches, methods and techniques employed in the research process. The first two sections — on causality and concepts — should be of concern to most student research.  The third section is on data collection and discusses a range of ways that we may seek out, or even attempt to create, data.  The fourth section focuses on particular methods and techniques that are often employed in analyzing data.

One thing you may want to keep in mind is that is often very useful to utilize multiple different approaches to a subject.  The process of triangulation can be extremely useful to a researcher (Patton 1990; Wes Only Excerpt).  This may include using a variety of data sources, multiple researchers, multiple theoretical perspectives, and/or multiple methods (e.g. statistics plus interviews).  This is a version of the old journalist axiom that when your mother tells you she loves you you should seek independent corroboration for her story.

Remember that whatever method(s) and data you utilize in your research process, the choice of data and approach should flow from the question that is asked.

Resources @ Wesleyan


GOVT-366: Empirical Methods for Political Science. Professor Erika Franklin Fowler (Fall 2010).

Prerequisites: One introductory-level government course. If not, permission from the instructor is required.

GOVT-358: Capstone Thesis Seminar. Professor Michael B. Nelson (Fall 2010).

Prerequisites: Permission of Instructor Required.