Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law, University of Florida                       

Prof. Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox                                                             Spring 2019


SYA 7933:  Research Design

Mondays, periods 7-9 (1:55 – 4:55 pm) – Ustler Hall, room 105


3227 Turlington Hall                                       office hours:

294-7177                                                         Wednesdays 10:00 am - 12:30 pm                                                                  and by appointment





COURSE DESCRIPTION: Required course for first-year graduate students in Sociology. It is the study of major social science research designs and techniques of conducting empirical inquiry into social phenomena.  It is useful to more advanced sociology graduate students, and to graduate students in other social science programs, for development of a research agenda or development of a dissertation or thesis proposal. 


PURPOSE OF COURSE: The purpose of this course is to orient students toward the core research designs and techniques of social science, including contemporary debates and emergent techniques.  The emphasis in the course is practical – developing the critical skills to evaluate completed research and prepare to conduct original empirical research. We will also discuss broader questions about how to make choices about research topics, construct research questions, and choose appropriate methods of data collection and analysis.  Course themes include the nature of social relationships, selecting observations, and conceptualization-measurement.  Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods are covered.   




(1)   Demonstrate broad understanding and application of empirical sociological research methods and analytical techniques

(2)   Demonstrate competencies in designing independent empirical research with scientific integrity

(3)   Demonstrate competencies in applying substantive sociological knowledge in critical thinking, analysis, and communication


Student Learning Objectives: 

Describe, explain, and compare-contrast multiple major research designs and analytical techniques

Engage in weekly discussions of key concepts, issues, and techniques in prominent and emergent research designs used by social scientists

Present an emergent research technique not covered in the course

Lead a class discussion of a research design, covering the primary readings and exemplars

Evaluate the effectiveness of research designs in sophisticated and current empirical sociological research

Construct a portfolio of research activities that lead to a detailed mixed-methods research proposal 

Develop an overarching conceptual frame that integrates use of mixed methods investigations of a single research topic.

Précis: write 3 précis that outline 3 empirical projects using at least 2 different research designs

Research Proposal: write a detailed proposal of a mixed-methods research project/agenda that is built from the conceptual frame assignment and the 3 précis

COURSE MATERIALS:  All materials will be available online on Canvas (  




ATTENDANCE POLICY:  Approach this seminar (and all seminars) professionally.  Career professionals attend all meetings, arrive on time, complete all work conscientiously and punctually, and arrive to meetings prepared to engage mindfully and civilly with colleagues.  In a small graduate seminar, both your individual success and the value of the course for the group are strongly based on the weekly discussion that occurs in the classroom.  Maintaining an open, respectful environment in which students feel comfortable participating and contributing to the class discussion is also an important part of the course.

You are expected to complete the assigned readings for each week and come prepared to discuss the readings.  Everyone gets 1 absence, with no questions asked. Additional absences must be approved; absences will be excused in the case of serious illness or other circumstance beyond the student’s control (see UF policy: Attendance at academic conferences will be excused, but you must inform me at least 2 weeks in advance (earlier if possible). I reserve the right to apply a 5% grade penalty (final grade) for each unexcused absence.

It is the student’s responsibility to get the notes and announcements from the instructor and classmates for any missed class.

OTHER POLICIES:  Details on course assignments will be provided online in Canvas. Failure to complete assignments on time and according to specifications may result in grade penalties. Inadequate class participation will result in grade penalties.  Feel free to talk with me if you have any questions about participation or other grades; any concerns with regard to specific point assessments must be resolved within 2 weeks of the grade being posted.



UNIVERSITY POLICY ON ACCOMMODATING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: Students requesting accommodation for disabilities must first register with the Dean of Students Office ( The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the instructor when requesting accommodation. You must submit this documentation prior to submitting assignments or taking the quizzes or exams. Accommodations are not retroactive, therefore, students should contact the office as soon as possible in the term for which they are seeking accommodations. 

UNIVERSITY POLICY ON ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT:  Academic honesty and integrity are fundamental values of the University community. Students should be sure that they understand the UF Student Honor Code at

Counseling and Mental Health Resources
Students facing difficulties completing the course or who are in need of counseling or urgent help should call the Counseling and Wellness Center (352-392-1575;

On-Line Evaluation

Students are expected to provide feedback on the quality of instruction in the course by completing online evaluations at Evaluations are typically open during the last two or three weeks of the semester, but students will be given specific times when they are open. Summary results are available to students at





Due date 

% of final

Course   grade




          Class participation – demonstrate preparation through critical reading             of assigned material and actively contribute to class discussion, 3%



          Reflection and commentary essays (weeks 2 and 3), 2% each, 4% total

1/17, 1/24



          Participation in online discussion, 6 separate weeks, 2% each, 10% 

          total (drop lowest score)

2/8 – 4/19


          Discussion leader duo, 2 times, 5% each, 10% total

2/4 – 4/8


          Evaluation of exemplar articles, 3 exemplars, 3.33% each, 10% total

             [can turn in up to 4 - highest 3 scores will be counted]

1.27 – 4/7


          Presentation of an additional design or technique not covered on 

                 regular syllabus schedule, 8%

2/11 – 4/22








           Research Agenda/Conceptual Framework, 8%  ** revised


9:00 am


           3 précis, 9% each, 27% total

1: 3/18 9:00am 

2: 3/28 9:00am

3: 4/11 9:00 am


          Final research proposal, 20%


9:00 am



GRADING SCALE: A 93-100%, A- 90-92%, B+ 87-89%, B 83-86%, B- 80-82%, C 75-79%, E 0-74%



 Course Schedule

Jan. 7               Introductions, Syllabus, Objectives, Plans

Jan. 14             Epistemology, Basic Resources and Tools

Jan. 21             HOLIDAY – NO CLASS


Jan. 28             Epistemology, Measurement, Analyses 

Feb. 4              Causation

Feb. 11            Mixed Methods

Feb. 18            Experimental Design

Feb. 25            Surveys

Mar. 4             SPRING BREAK

Mar. 11           Interviewing

Mar. 18           Case Study

Mar. 25           Ethnography

Apr. 1              Administrative Data

Apr. 8              Content Analysis Apr. 15             Historical Methods

Apr. 22            Research Funding, Job Market, Professional Writing




Disclaimer: This syllabus represents my current plans and objectives.  As we go through the semester, those plans may need to change to enhance the class learning opportunity.  Such changes, communicated clearly, are not unusual and should be expected.

The course material and syllabus were developed by Dr. Barbara Zsembik, who has taught graduate Research Design for several years at UF.