Fall 2011 Qualitative Methods Courses at Harvard University

September 6, 2011

Please see the list of qualitative methods courses for the fall 2011 semester below.

U = Primarily for undergraduates        G = Primarily for graduate students

General Methods

Government 50 - Introduction to Political Science Research Methods (U)
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences - Government
This class will introduce students to techniques used for research in the study of politics. Students will learn to think systematically about research design and causality, how data and theory fit together, and how to measure the quantities we care about. Students will learn a `toolbox' of methods---including statistical software---that enable them to execute their research plans. This class is highly recommended for those planning to write a senior thesis.

Government 2010. Strategies for Political Inquiry (U, G)
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences - Government
Research design for causal inference in qualitative and quantitative studies. Topics covered include measurement, conceptualization, case studies, the relationship between large-n and small-n studies, process-tracing, surveys, field experiments, and natural experiments, with examples of their use in political science. Note: Primarily for graduate students; may also be taken by undergraduates preparing for senior thesis research.

S-504 Introduction to Qualitative Research (G)
Harvard Graduate School of Education
How does one collect, analyze, and write about data collected from a small number of people who were neither randomly sampled nor numerous enough to serve as the basis for statistically significant generalizations about the populations from which they are drawn? This course will teach students to answer this question by providing a survey of various kinds of qualitative research methods; walking them through the process of formulating a research question; selecting the kinds of research participants and qualitative research methods that can answer the research question; collecting qualitative data to answer the question; analyzing the data; finding the proper fit between theories, data, and practice; and writing an academic paper based on the data. Each student will write a paper based on a small research project (on a topic of the student’s own choosing), and develop the skills to evaluate various qualitative research methods through close readings of scholarly work and discussions of student research projects in small workshops. No prerequisites or previous course work is necessary for this course.

HBS 4852: Seminar on the Craft of Inductive Qualitative Research (G)
Harvard Business School
This seminar provides a forum to demystify the craft of qualitative inductive research. How do field notes get transformed into published books and articles? How does theory get built and substantiated? What is the behind the scenes process successful scholars are using? Our goal is to look behind the curtain and understand the art and science of writing up this work. It is also to gain an appreciation for the variety of ways in which people work. Towards this end, the seminar will be composed of two parts: 1) learning from others and 2) learning by doing. The first part of each class will involve uncovering the story behind a published piece of work, written by a leading scholar. The second part of each class will involve class participants sharing their own writing based on on-going research projects. This writing can take the form of full paper or much earlier stage memos, outlines or other writing sample. The seminar is offered as a Pass/Fail course and has three requirements: In preparation for each class, participants will read the piece of work by the leading scholar, and possibly some earlier drafts, memos, or reviews. For each class, participants will also be provided a writing sample distributed by one of the class participants, whose week it is to share their work. Participants will be responsible for sharing their work during at least one class session. This course is open to doctoral students who have successfully completed their first-year of graduate work and are engaged in inductive qualitative research projects ideally with data. Permission of the instructors is required for all enrollees.

SUP 107M: Qualitative Methods in Policy Research (G)
Harvard Kennedy School of Government
(Previously offered as API-207) Qualitative methods are often essential in policy research, offering crucial insights into how a policy or program is actually implemented on the ground, how participants understand it, and how it plays out for individuals in specific cultural contexts living complex daily lives. The first half of the course introduces students to a variety of qualitative data collection techniques, including participant observation and in-depth interviewing, as well as how to formulate a research question, develop a research design, negotiate access to a research site or population, and satisfy human subjects’ concerns. The second half of the course is devoted to qualitative analysis. In addition to readings and discussion, students will try their hand at a variety of data-collection and analysis techniques. The course’s emphasis will be on the types of data-gathering techniques and analytical approaches that are most effective in policy-relevant research. Offered in the second module of Fall 2011.

SHDH288 Qualitative Research Methods in Public Health (G)
Harvard School of Public Health
Qualitative research can be used alone or in combination with quantitative research to investigate public health questions. This introductory-level course begins by examining the variety of potential uses of qualitative methods in public health research and diverse qualitative research approaches. The course then explores specific topics, including: "entering" the community to conduct qualitative research; applying theory to study design and open-ended questions; ensuring study rigor; developing theory-based research questions, specific data collection methods (including, but not limited to, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, participant observation); sampling for qualitative studies; data management; data analysis; writing results and research proposals; and considerations for choosing qualitative methods at each stage of a mixed-methods qualitative or mixed-methods qualitative/quantitative study. Students will be required to participate in class discussions, apply concepts covered in class through assignments to collect and analyze qualitative data, critique qualitative works, and propose a qualitative study. Offered in the first module of Fall 2011.

SSCI E-100b Graduate Research Methods and Scholarly Writing in the Social Sciences: Government and History (G)
Harvard Extension School
This proseminar addresses problems and methods related to the study of government; history; history of science, technology, and medicine; and allied disciplines. It stresses the critical analysis of sources, constructing explanatory models, standards of logical demonstration, and organizing and presenting research results. Emphasis is on developing both writing and research skills. In the fall, section 1 focuses on the research and writing skills necessary for advanced work in historical, political, and social studies, section 2 examines historical and contemporary relationships among gender, schooling, and development in comparative perspective, and section 3 considers the history and legacy of the 1960s. In the spring, section 1 focuses on the evolution of conflict processes and addresses the scientific study of inter- and intranational relations and section 3 focuses on modern France. Students study essential categories of analysis used in history, political science, and anthropology. Prerequisites: satisfactory score on the mandatory test of critical reading and writing skills. In addition, at the first class meeting, students must complete a writing assignment that demonstrates their graduate-level reading comprehension and ability to write coherent, logical arguments.

EDUC E-210 Graduate Research Methods and Scholarly Writing in Educational Technologies (G)
Harvard Extension School
This proseminar guides students through the process of qualitative research design, which culminates in writing a detailed thesis or capstone project proposal. Students learn how to define a theoretical context for their research on technologies of education; formulate researchable questions or project topics; select a research or project site; and pick sampling, data collection, and analysis techniques. Students critically examine validity threats and alternative explanations to their research. Prerequisites: successful completion of five Graduate Program in Educational Technologies (retired program) courses and a satisfactory score on the mandatory test of critical reading and writing skills.


Anthropology 1850. Ethnography as Practice and Genre (U, G)
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences - Anthropology
For sociocultural anthropologists, ethnography is both a way of studying human communities and a way of writing about them. Ethnographic fieldwork raises issues of participation, power, and perspective; cultural relativism; the nature of evidence; and the ethics of engagement. Writing ethnography highlights other issues, such as the politics of representing “others.” This course explores these and related issues through close reading and intensive discussion of selected texts. Note: This course fulfills the undergraduate "Methods" requirement for Social Anthropology.

Anthropology 2835r. Sensory Ethnography I (G)
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences - Anthropology
First half of a year-long sequence in which students apply media anthropological theory and conduct ethnography using film, video, sound, and/or still photography.

Anthropology 2836r. Sensory Ethnography II: Studio Course (G)
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences - Anthropology
Second half of a year-long sequence in which students apply media anthropological theory and conduct ethnography using film, video, sound, still photography, and/or hypermedia. Note: Limited to graduate students, who must also attend all VES 158 classes. Emphasis is on pre-production and production in the spring, and on post-production in the fall. Interview with instructor and teaching assistant required for admission.

S-710B Observation and Participation in Qualitative Research (G)
Harvard Graduate School of Education
This module is a workshop in observing and analyzing educational settings. This is a learning-by-doing workshop course, using a shared, easily accessible research site. Our goal is to assemble a toolkit of methodological strategies for observation-based research. Our aims are as follows: (1) to develop a beginning understanding of the key theoretical, analytic, methodological, and practical issues central to doing participant observation, especially in familiar settings; (2) to improve our ability to observe, document, and systematically analyze people's routine practices in natural life, particularly in complex educational settings; and (3) to consider some early dilemmas of authority, validity, and ethics in the representation of "others" and selves. Students will be asked to read and comment regularly on each other's field notes and analytic memos. Permission of the instructor is required. Doctoral students will be given priority in enrollment.


History of Science 150. History of the Human Sciences (G)
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences - History of Science
Examination of the growth and development of social sciences such as sociology, anthropology, psychoanalysis, psychology, political science, and economics from the Enlightenment to the present. Innovators devised these fields to provide new, scientific ways to gain insight into age-old philosophical and religious questions, such as, What is the nature of the "self" or the "soul"? What binds human beings to one another? What is free will? What are the limits of social control, behavioral engineering, and the possible reach of techniques for adjustment and manipulation?

History of Science 247. Current Issues in the History of Medicine: Seminar (G)
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences - History of Science
Explores new methods for understanding disease, medicine, and society, ranging from historical demography to cultural studies. Topics include patterns of health and disease, changes in medical science and clinical practice, the doctor-patient relationship, health care systems, alternative healing, and representations of the human body. The course will focus on historical problem-framing, research strategies, and writing.

East Asian Studies 205 - Approaches to the Comparative History of Medicine and the Body (G)
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences – East Asian Studies
Research seminar devoted to the theory and methods, possibilities and challenges of cross-cultural studies in the history of medicine and the body. Students will also be expected to attend lectures for Culture and Belief 11.


S-710C Interviewing in Qualitative Research (G)
Harvard Graduate School of Education
The aim of this module is to provide interested students with the knowledge, skill, and theoretical grounding necessary to carry out reliable, trustworthy, and respected informal interviews in context. This module exposes students to the complexity of the informal interview as a qualitative method of data collection and helps them assess both the benefits and the limitations of this important research strategy. Students will construct and conduct interviews around a researchable question, start to analyze the interview data, and begin to interpret the data in narrative form. Throughout this process, we will be critical of the power dynamics involving the imbalance between researcher and participants. Students are expected to engage in weekly projects, participate in class discussions, write memos, and complete a final assignment. Permission of the instructor is required.

Action Research

S-547 Action Research (G)
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Action research, unlike traditional research, places action at the center of research; its primary goal is to solve a problem that will lead to improvement in individual or organizational practice. Action research prioritizes “insider” status rather than assuming an outside, “detached” stance. Practitioners have used action research to answer questions about their community organizations, schools, and classrooms. In this course students will do an action research project, in addition to critically reflecting on the intellectual and practical questions that action research raises. This seminar will meet every other week for the full academic year. In order to enroll in the class students must have a site in which they can conduct an action research project, and have prior research training. Permission of the instructor is required.


A-162 The Art and Science of Portraiture (G)
Harvard Graduate School of Education
This seminar will investigate the methods, form, and purposes of social science portraiture: its relationship to other qualitative research strategies and its links to literature and art. Seminar members will respond critically to examples of portraiture in field studies, ethnographies, biographies, letters, diaries, and literature, as well as write their own portraits of individuals, institutions, relationships, processes, or concepts. Attention will be paid to systematic description, careful analysis, composition, and writing and to the aesthetics and science of creating portraits. This will be a working seminar with members acting as discussion leaders, critics, and respondents of each other’s work. In addition to composing a portrait, students will be required to write short, critical analyses and give collaborative oral presentations. Enrollment is limited to 15; permission of the instructor is required.