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From idea to research design – Methods school

Mucahiddin / IStock
Mucahiddin / IStock

The first part of the GURN Methods School on applied social research has begun. The workshop series is aimed at Ukrainian think tanks and junior researchers who do less academic research but whose work is mainly in the field of policy analysis.

The requirements for selection were an interest in the use of qualitative methods and a concrete research idea or analytical publication in the pipeline, which the applicants sought to improve through their participation in the Methods School with regards to structure, research design and methodology. Also noteworthy: The trainers are both from Ukraine and Germany. Many of them are alumni of GURN or its preceding project PAIC ("Platform for Analytics and Intercultural Communication").

The GURN Methods School 2020 was organised in four separate thematic blocks that were implemented throughout autumn. The participants learned how to develop high-quality research designs, apply qualitative methods and became familiar with the analysis of discourse phenomena. During the first part which took place in the course of six online events from late September to early October, the young researchers focused on developing their own research design, the methodological basics of comparison and dealt with process tracing ­– an instrument for reconstructing political, social and institutional processes.

The first two seminars on 25 and 26 September 2020 were led by Dr Oksana Huss (University of Bologna) and Oleksandra Keudel (Free University of Berlin). During two three-hour workshops, they gave valuable advice to the young academics on how to develop relevant research questions, work in a result-oriented manner without overlooking important findings, formulate indicators and generalise results. Two further sessions on 2 and 3 October focused on the structure, argumentation and communication of scientific results.

The third and fourth seminar on 30 September and 1 October 2020 were led by Thomas Barret (Free University of Berlin) and Sebastian Hoppe. Barret taught about the advantages and disadvantages of Most Similar Systems Designs (MSSD) and Most Different Systems Designs (MDSD) for the development of comparative studies. In the class of Hoppe, who works at the Institute for Eastern European Studies at the Free University of Berlin and is a guest researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), the participants dealt with process tracing. Process tracing is a methodological approach which is particularly suitable for the investigation of complex phenomena and attempts to identify causal links.

The Methods School took place within the framework of the project "German Ukrainian Researchers Network" (GURN 1, 2019-2020) and was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

About the GURN – German Ukrainian Researchers Network project: The cooperation between think tanks and politics are strengthened. GURN focuses on knowledge transfer, capacity building and bilateral dialogue. Current developments and German-Ukrainian relations are discussed in a variety of formats.

Image copyright: Mucahiddin / IStock