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Institut for Sociologi og Socialt Arbejde

Developing your research design

The aim of this course is to offer participants an opportunity to qualify their Ph.D.-project design within sociology and related areas such as social work, political sociology, or cultural studies.


26.08.2019 kl. 09.00 - 27.08.2019 kl. 15.00



Ph.d. Course: Developing your research design

Time: 26 and 27 August 2019

Venue: Aalborg University, Aalborg

Organizers and teachers: Professor Annick Prieur and professor Lars Skov Henriksen, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University

Registration: deadline July 4, 2019. Applicants write a short description of their project (5 – 10 lines) upon application. Notification about admission will follow shortly after.

Please send your application to secretary Anne Brauner Mikkelsen: abm@socsci.aau.dk

Please provide full name and full contact information, institutional affiliation, time for start of Ph.D.-study, and a short description of Ph.D.-project.


Aim of the course

The aim of this course is to offer participants an opportunity to qualify their Ph.D.-project design within sociology and related areas such as social work, political sociology, or cultural studies. We do this in sessions where course participants present and reflect upon their research plan, while receiving feedback from other Ph.D.-students and from experienced Ph.D.-supervisors. Another aim of the course is to discuss general topics such as thesis form (monograph or articles), thesis quality demands, and writing and publication of articles.

The course targets Ph.D.-students in the first phase of their thesis work (within their first year).

Dependent on participants, the course language is Danish or English.


Course format

This is a two days’ course focusing on participants’ projects. Based on the logic of the course and the reading list, each participant writes a short paper (4 – 5 pages) about his or her project, applying the following structure:

• Imaginary (see H. Becker text, reading list, for this particular concept): what is your research question and main approach in the study?

• Sampling and what is your object of inquiry? (What parts of the empirical reality do you focus on and why?)

• Concepts: what are your main theories and concepts?

•Logic: what are your methods and analytical strategies?

All participants make short presentations after which follows a 30 minutes’ discussion of each Ph.D.-project.

Besides paper discussions, the course features short presentations and discussions of central topics related to Ph.D.-projects: thesis form, writing and publishing articles, where to publish, challenges in the Ph.D.-project, etc.

A detailed program will follow. Short papers are due 19 August 2019, in order to circulate and prepare comments.

Practical information


Because of the feedback format of the course there is a maximum of 12 participants.

Developed in cooperation with the Department of Sociology, Copenhagen University and offered alternately by the department at Copenhagen Univ. and the department at Aalborg Univ. Students from these institutions are given priority to the course, but applications from other students are welcome.


Preliminary reading list:

Part 1: Good research is good thinking.

Abend, G. (2008). The Meaning of ’Theory’. Sociological Theory 26(2): 173-199.

Abbott, A. (2004). Methods of Discovery. Heuristics for the Social Sciences. NY & London: Norton & co. Chapter 3 “Introduction to heuristics”, pp. 80-110.

Becker, H. (1992). Cases, causes, conjunctures, stories, and imagery. In: C. Ragin & H. Becker (eds.) What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 205-217.

Swedberg, R. (2016). Before Theory Comes Theorizing or How to Make Social Science More Interesting. British Journal of Sociology 67(1): 5-22.

Alvesson, M. & J. Sandberg (2014). Problematization Meets Mystery Creation. Generating New Ideas and Findings Through Assumption- Challenging Research. In E. Jeanes & T. Huzzard (eds.) Critical Management Research: Reflections from the Field. London: SAGE. Pp. 23-40. (tilgængelig som e-bog på AUB)


Part 2: Some thinking and writing tools.
De Vaus, D. (2001) Research Design in Social Research. London: SAGE. Pp. 17-21 (about different kinds of research questions).

Knopf, J. W.  (2006) Doing a Literature Review. Political Science and Politics 39 (1): 127-132.

Martin, E. (2014). How to Write a Good Article. Current Sociology 62(7): 949-955.

The Sociological Review: Dos and don’ts for authors. Informal advice from Michaela Benson, Managing Editor https://www.thesociologicalreview.com/submit-a-paper/dos-and-donts-for-authors/