Research Design

Research is knowledge production. Research design is the plan (blueprint) that guides research through the process of collecting, analyzing and interpreting observations to generate knowledge. The design strongly influences what statements can be made and the validity of those knowledge claims. The development and choice of appropriate research designs is science, handicraft as well as sometimes an art that must be firmly grounded in theoretical considerations and existing knowledge. In this course, we present major design types and examine the elements of designs and common pitfalls. The aim of the course is to assist students in their design of publishable research, and to reinforce their ability to evaluate, discuss and challenge designs of fellow researchers.

Some designs are presently more relevant to some disciplines than others are. Instead of focusing on a limited subset of designs, we cover a wide range of designs relevant for social sciences. A broader view of the research process should enable students to identify strengths and weaknesses of empirical research in their own and related social science disciplines.

Learning outcome


  • Students should know basic research designs and accompanying sample-, measurement-, coding, analysis- and interpretation issues.


Students should be able to

  • develop research problems and questions,
  • develop robust research designs including sound sample, measurement, analysis and interpretation strategies
  • evaluate the appropriateness and application of a wide selection of designs
  • evaluate the quality of empirical data and the validity of statements based on the designs

General competence:

  • Students should become better producers, evaluators and users of research, and be helped to advance one step further in a sound scientific career.

Required prerequisite knowledge

Participants must be enrolled in a PhD program.

Recommended prerequisites

A course covering Philosophy of science related topics is highly recommended, e.g., the UiS PHD102 Philosophy of Social science.

Coursework requirements

In-class presentations.

Active participation in disccussions.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Torvald Øgaard

Method of work

The course consist of three basic elements (with accompanying student activities):

  1. Introduction to good questions and sustainable answers (individual reading, lectures and discussions).

which questions can and should we ask? Researchable phenomena, problems, questions, hypotheses, models.

which answers (statements) can we provide? Research designs including collecting, analyzing and interpreting observations.

  1. Evaluation of research efforts. We will present and discuss a wide selection of contemporary research (individual reading, presentations by researchers as well as students, group and class discussions).
  2. Presentation and discussion of the participants own designs (presentation of your own design, discussant of fellow students design, discussions).

Open for

The course is open to interested PhD candidates at the University of Stavanger and other universities. Single Course Admission to PhD-Courses.

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course coordinator, the student representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital course evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


Search for literature in Leganto