Seminar on “Research Design” (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, PhD, 2016)

Ph.D. in Human Rights and Global Politics: Legal, Philosophical and Economic Challenges
Seminar on “Research Design”
Federico Russo, University of Salento

This seminar will focus on two aspects of research design that are especially salient for interdisciplinary studies, the process of concept definition and the use of case studies. Concepts are the bricks of scientific enterprises, but too often those bricks are not solid enough: common weaknesses include sloppiness, theoretical confusion, conceptual stretching. Interdisciplinary research is especially prone to those problems. Conceptual analysis, which has roots in the philosophical tradition but is widely used also in the other human and social sciences, consists of a set of rules and procedures to avoid the common pitfalls of
ill-defined concepts. Case studies are widely employed for illustrative,  exploratory and theoretical purposes. In the seminar, we will discuss how case studies can enhance the analytical value of a research design and how they can be carried out. Issues related to case study design, data collection and analysis will be discussed. The seminar consists of two intensive workshops requiring the active participation of students, who will be required to reflect on how their research projects could benefit from the tools of conceptual analysis and the exploration of an empirical case. For this purpose, a list of required readings
will be circulated in advance.

Required readings
Collier, David, and Steven Levitsky. 1997. ‘Democracy with Adjectives: Conceptual Innovation in Comparative Research’. World Politics 49 (3): 430–51.
Pitkin, Hanna Fenichel. 1967. ‘Introduction’. In The Concept of Representation, 1–19. University of California Press.
Yin, Robert K. 2013. Introduction’. In Case Study Research (International Student Edition): Design and Methods, 1-18. SAGE Publications.



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