Spring 2016 - 60445 - PA390C - Advanced Research Methods

This course is intended be a rigorous course in empirical methods (with a focus on econometric approaches to empirical analysis) that will provide essential skills for conducting doctoral-level research and beyond.  The course begins with the fundamentals of designing a theory-based, empirical research investigation, as well issues of sampling, measurement, data quality and statistical power. We will briefly review material on basic tools of probability and statistical analysis that one uses to describe and interpret data, which you are likely to have covered in prior courses. We will quickly advance to more complex methods of statistical analysis, as you will inevitably find that the complexities of the human and institutional activities we study in public affairs frequently demand a more sophisticated strategy for the production and analysis of information that can inform public policy decision-making and our understanding of policy impacts. This course will emphasize the application of statistical concepts and methodologies to the analysis of policy issues, including the limitations of quantitative methods in generating answers to policy and research questions.

In a project that will span the duration of the course, you will pursue a research or policy question of your choice and will identify a dataset that will become the basis for much of the empirical work you will do in this class.  In particular, you will:

1.     Formulate one or more policy or research questions to address

2.      Explore your data (using descriptive statistics) and identify limitations of your data, refining your research question(s) if needed

3.      Specify hypotheses that you will test empirically

4.      Identify statistical methods appropriate for your data and analysis

5.      Specify statistical models to test

6.      Conduct sensitivity analyses (if appropriate) of alternative model specifications

7.      Interpret the results of your statistical analyses in terms of the research questions and hypotheses you defined at the onset of the study

8.      Make a presentation to your peers of your study findings, including a discussion of your analytical approach

To undertake the work in this class, it will be essential for you to become skilled in using a statistical processing program such as Stata or SAS.

This class is restricted to 1st year LBJ School PhD students or by instructor approval.

SRH 3.220