Free online course: Understanding Research Methods (SOAS, University of London)

Understanding Research Methods is an online course offered by the University of London and SOAS University of London as a joint partnership. The class is intended for undergraduate and first-year graduate level students who feel intimidated at the prospect of conducting academic research. By the end of the class, students will be able to effectively conduct research related to any academic field and to self-evaluate their work.

A 4-week class, Understanding Research Methods is open to anyone and has no prerequisites. The entire class will take 10 to 15 hours to complete, and students are encouraged to complete its four modules at a pace of one per week. Course instruction is given primarily in the form of videos, which are done in English but subtitled in Arabic, Serbian, Tagalog, Spanish and Persian. Supplemental readings in English accompany the videos.

Understanding Research Methods begins with the unit What Is Research and What Makes a Good Research Question? The module will help students identify areas of exploration in their academic fields. Students complete an e-tivity that involves proposing a research question. Then, they critique one another’s questions and receive feedback from faculty.

The second module, What Is a Literature Review and Why Do We Need to Do One?, introduces students to literature reviews, one of the most important aspects of research. In the third module, Why Are Planning and Management Skills Important for Research?, students learn how to plan and organize research and manage the data they gather. After the final module, How Do You Know You Have Been a Good Researcher at the End of a Project?, students learn how to fairly evaluate their own work to ensure that their research is sound.

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