• Class Number 3332
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 12 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Baptiste Brossard
    • Dr Baptiste Brossard
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

The sociological imagination involves paying attention to the mundane aspects of everyday life while simultaneously reflecting theoretically on these aspects. This course will provide training in the main methods used by sociologists: interviews, observations, archives/document analysis and statistics. As advanced training in methodology for Honours students, the course also emphasises the relationship between research practices  and theoretical and epistemological issues. The guiding principle  of the course is reflexivity - ongoing reflection on the conditions under which any knowledge is produced.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. identify and explain key methodological issues in sociological research;
  2. select and carry out a range of social research methods; and
  3. develop an informed argument about methodological processes in social research.

Required Resources

Mandatory readings:

Blommaert, Jan and Chris Bulcaen. 2000. "Critical Discourse Analysis". Annual Review of Anthropology 29(1): 447­-466

Brossard, Baptiste. 2018 (forthcoming). "Situating Words". Sociological Focus.

Burawoy, Michael. 1998. "The Extended Case Method", Sociological Theory, 16(1): 4-33

Chalmers, Alan. 1976. What is this Thing Called Science? Queensland University Press and Open University Press

Crawley Sara L. 2002. "'They Still Don't Understand Why I Hate Wearing Dresses!' An Autoethnographic Rant on Dresses, Boats, and Butchness". Cultural Studies ? Critical Methodologies 2(1): 69-92

Desmond, Matthew. 2014. “Relational Ethnography.” Theory and Society 43: 547­-579

Glaser, Barney & Anselm Strauss. 1967. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Chicago, Aldine.

Gilding, Michael. 2010. "Motives of the Rich and Powerful in Doing Interviews with Social Scientists", International Sociology 25(6): 755-777

Mahi, Lara. 2015. "The Sanitization of Criminal Justice? The Use of Illness in Criminal Trials". French Journal of Sociology, 56(4): 697­-733

Marcus, George E. 1995. "Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi­Sited Ethnography", Annual Review of Anthropology 24(1): 95­-117

Ponterotto, Joseph G. 2006. "Brief Note on the Origins, Evolution, and Meaning of the Qualitative Research Concept Thick Description". The Qualitative Report 11(3): 538-­549 

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course: written feedback on each assessment, individual meetings by appointment and collective feedback during class.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

The information provided is a preliminary Class Outline. A finalised version will be available on Wattle and will be accessible after enrolling in this course. All updates, changes and further information will be uploaded on the course Wattle site and will not be updated on Programs and Courses throughout the semester. Any questions or concerns should be directed to the Course Convenor.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 How to Choose a Method This course will be dedicated to some of the first questions one should ask when starting a research. What method should I use? Do I need a very specific research question before collecting the data? How to make such choice? What are the theoretical implications of this choice? What is the impact of the chosen method on the analysis? We will address these questions both in talking about the students' projects and in discussing fictive cases. In the second hour, we will welcome a special guest: Anesh Nair, Human Ethics Manager at the ANU will present the bases of ethics application. We will take this as an opportunity to discuss the ethical implications of methodology in social sciences
2 Understanding One's Relation to the Research Topic ?Currently, method specialists and philosophers of science do not consider that scientists should hide their personal involvement into their research, as a "bias" (a word to avoid, or use with care), but that it is more a condition to achieve some form of methodological rigor. However, understanding one's relation to a research topic requires, first, to question one's own social trajectory and representation of the world. Why me, am I choosing this particular topic, and producing this particular interpretation of this data? Second, this questioning should lead to improve the overall quality of the research: how can my awareness of my relation to my research topic enlighten my analysis? This session will be a discussion on the different ways to develop a reflexive reasoning and to write down these reflections.
3 Observation Practice Observation is probably the most difficult method to master, precisely because it seems easy: you just have to go somewhere and take some notes on what you see, isn't it? In fact, knowing what to observe, what to write, and how to draw results on this, is quite a hard exercise. This is why this session will be organized as a workshop, where we will practice this technique collectively.
4 Describing and Analysing after the Observation ?Once you have made observations and taken some notes, what to do with these notes? How to relate what you saw? How to describe 'realistically' what you observed? This session will take the form of a writing group where we address description writing skills and discuss how to develop analyses out of observation.
5 Conducting Interviews The way in which sociologists interview people significantly shapes their results. Indeed, these results depend on their ability to obtain this or that type of discourse. In other words, with the same topic and the same participants, a research may lead to very different conclusions. This is why it is necessary to reflect on how our relational skills and approach to our research topic orient our interaction with participants, and to theorize this relation. This session will consequently deal both with the practical techniques of interviewing and the theoretical implications of these techniques.
6 Analyzing Interviews ?One you have done your interview(s), what to do with this? A basic way to proceed is thematic analysis, which consists of identifying the recurrent topics in the participants' discourses and of looking for what these topics tell about the social reality under study. However, some other options exist, such as process analysis or indepth case studies. There are also different ways of coding, as well as different ways of presenting interviews along with the results of the research. After an overview of these various possibilities, we will work collectively on some concrete examples.
7 Finding Relevant Statistics The goal of this week is to convince the students that even if they hate statistics, feel unable to do anything implying numbers and designed a qualitative methodology project to avoid such problems, there is still some important things to be learnt from statistics in any research project. For instance, when you interview someone and want to know what their education level is, this data is relevant only if you know in what part of the population this information situates them; which requires knowing statistics about education levels in this or that country, for this or that generation. We will consequently review all the advantages that can be drawn from using sporadically some statistics in a qualitative project. Assessment 1 due
8 Making Relevant Stats and Graphs We are not finished with numbers. But this week, we will focus on the statistics and graphs that the researcher can make by themselves during a qualitative methodology research project. In the first hour, we will do an overview of the different possibilities, from quantifying observations to generating graphs based on interviews. In the second hour, we will address the use of questionnaires in a qualitative fieldwork: when is it relevant to make the participants to fulfill a questionnaire?
9 Finding Archives and Documents This session will take place in the ANU Archives centre, where Sarah Lethbridge (Senior Archivist) will prepare us a visit of the archives and some reflections on the potential of working with archives for sociologist. Then, we will open a box and try together some exploration. Assessment 2 due
10 Analyzing Documents ?"Documents" includes a vast panel of objects, from historical archives to online websites. Many research topics involve observing the production of numerous documents and understanding the content of these documents. What to do with these data? This week's session will be centered around document analysis. We will reflect collectively on a series of documents (to be selected), especially focusing on how the various methods of analysis influence the findings produced.
11 Online Ethnography Nowadays, a huge part of social relations is happening online. Consequently, we need to reflect both on what digital technologies change in social life and on how to use the internet during a sociological research. The first hour of this session will be dedicated to qualitative methods online, and I will give some examples drawn from my own fieldwork study in Francophone forums dealing with self-injury. The second hour will be animated by our special guest Rob Ackland, who is the specialist, in our School of Sociology, of online worlds and methods. He will present the bases of online surveys and network analysis in very simple ways, that can be used in a Honours thesis.
12 Conclusion At the end of the semester, you should be ready to jump into your research with a quite advanced knowledge of methodology. You are not anymore in that stage when you learnt by heart the distinction between nondirective, semidirective and directive interviews. You are at that stage where you can reflect on the theoretical implications of the methods you use, and develop a nuanced account of your methodological path. This last session will be devoted to some last advice regarding the Honours thesis. It will take the form of a roundtable, where each student brings their own questions regarding their research. Assessment 3 due

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Observation Analysis 20 % 23/04/2019 07/05/2019 1, 3
Interview Analysis 25 % 07/05/2019 21/05/2019 1, 3
Statistics and Archives Analysis 25 % 28/05/2019 05/06/2019 1, 2, 3
Research Essay 30 % 17/06/2019 01/07/2019 1, 2, 3

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 23/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 07/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3

Observation Analysis

Assessment 1 is a 1000 ­words observation analysis. Students will have to conduct an observation and write an analytical account of this observation. (LO1 and 3) 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 07/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 21/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3

Interview Analysis

Assessment 2 is a 1500 ­words interview analysis. Students will have to conduct an interview and write an analysis of the social situation of the interviewee as well as of the interviewing situation. (LO1 and 3) 

Assessment Task 3

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 28/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 05/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Statistics and Archives Analysis

Assessment 3 is a 1500­ words statistics and archives analysis. Students will have to find statistics and archives that are relevant to their research project and explain why. (LO1, 2 and 3)

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 17/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 01/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

Research Essay

Assessment 4 is a 2000­ words research essay, where the students will have to explain how and why they selected a research method for their thesis. (LO1, 2 and 3) 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

No hardcopy submission

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Baptiste Brossard

Research Interests

Mental Health; Sociological Theory; Qualitative Methods; Utopian Studies

Dr Baptiste Brossard

Tuesday 11:00 15:00
Dr Baptiste Brossard

Research Interests

Dr Baptiste Brossard

Tuesday 11:00 15:00

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