This course serves as an introduction to quantitative methodology in the social sciences. The methods will primarily apply to political science, but are useful for research in other social sciences such as economics, sociology, and psychology. The goal is for students to come away with the skills needed to quantitatively measure social phenomena, and estimate descriptive and causal relationships between them.
Quantitative social science is difficult. Unlike the ‘hard’ sciences, we rarely have the opportunity to run experiments in controlled lab settings. That means we have to use a variety of techniques and pay close attention to the assumptions underlying our methods. We will be methodologically pluralist in our pursuit of accurate answers to important research questions.
We will learn about probability and statistics: distributions and samples of variables, and the relationships between them. Mostly in lab, we will also learn about computation: how to summarize data from the real world. We will use the free programs R and RStudio. If possible, bring both a computer and a notepad to lecture and lab.
Social science methods are often best learned during the research process. In this course, we will not only learn concepts; we will learn how to learn methods on our own—how to ask about and Google for methods information.