INST 381: Quantitative Research Methods for International Governance and Politics Section 2 (Online)

The University of Mississippi
Fall 2020 * Instructor: Dr. Gang Guo * e-mail: gg at olemiss dot edu * Office hours: by appointment

Course Overview

This undergraduate online lecture course is a general introduction to the basic features of the research methods used in the scientific study of politics and policy around the world. The course starts with a broad overview of the social science approach to the study of global politics and policy, noting especially the distinctions between qualitative and quantitative research and between normative and positive theories. After the brief overview, the course will specifically focus on quantitative research methods. It combines abstract discussions of the important concepts, strategies, and processes of research design with hands-on experiences of searching for, collecting, cleaning, processing, and analyzing real-world data on global politics and policy. It concludes with students completing independently a small research project from beginning to end on a topic in global politics and policy of his or her own choosing, based on what has been learned during the semester.

This course is especially suitable for students at the Croft Institute for International Studies because:

  1. The course has a substantive emphasis on contemporary real-world issues in global politics and policy. The concepts, strategies, processes, and techniques are illustrated by actual examples and real data, and the underlying theories and substantive issues are those that international studies majors are interested in and care about.
  2. Students can apply the concepts and methods learned in this course to other social science research projects that international studies majors often deal with in their course work or senior theses.

Course Objectives

By the end of the semester, students should be able to conduct their own independent research on a topic in international governance and politics by using appropriate scientific research methods. This includes designing a research project, reviewing relevant literature, developing a theory, formulating hypotheses, collecting data, conducting analyses using basic statistical techniques such as linear and logistic regression, interpreting the outputs, presenting the findings, and critically evaluating their own research and that conducted by others.

Course Structure

This is an online course where most of the activities will be on Blackboard. It is essential for students to complete the required reading materials, online quizzes, and homework assignments for every week.

Course Materials

We will be using the SPSS statistical software.

For installation instructions, please log on to, click on "Search", "Research Software", and then "SPSS".

Additional reading assignments may be added throughout the semester. Most of them are contemporary examples of social science research on important topics in global politics and policy, and they will be discussed on Blackboard.

Course Grades

Grades for this course are distributed as follows: online quizzes 25%; homework assignments 35%; research presentation 10%; final research paper 30%.

The weekly assignments are in the textbook at the end of each chapter. They normally contain a mixture of multiple-choice and open-ended questions. Later in the semester the assignments will include computer exercises as well. Students are required to complete the assignment every week for the corresponding chapter and turn it in by Friday. Assignments that are turned in late without a reasonable excuse or assignments that show signs of cheating will be graded zero. Students are encouraged to meet online regularly to study course materials together. However, the completed assignment every week should demonstrate independent effort, *not* teamwork. Each student will be conducting an independent research project and complete a research presentation and a final research paper. There is a rough outline on Pages 235-237 of the textbook that you may follow generally in writing your final research paper. The research presentation should be uploaded on Blackboard by Tuesday, November 17th. The final research paper should be uploaded on Blackboard by Monday, November 23rd.

Disability Access and Inclusion:
The University of Mississippi is committed to the creation of inclusive learning environments for all students. If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your full inclusion and participation, or to accurate assessment of your achievement, please contact the course instructor as soon as possible. Barriers may include, but are not necessarily limited to, timed exams and in-class assignments, difficulty with the acquisition of lecture content, inaccessible web content, and the use of non-captioned or non-transcribed video and audio files. If you are approved through SDS, you must log in to your Rebel Access portal at to request approved accommodations. If you are NOT approved through SDS, you must contact Student Disability Services at 662-915-7128 so the office can: 1. determine your eligibility for accommodations, 2. disseminate to your instructors a Faculty Notification Letter, 3. facilitate the removal of barriers, and 4. ensure you have equal access to the same opportunities for success that are available to all students.

Course Schedule

MonthDateDayTopicRequired Reading
August25thTuesdayIntroduction & Administration
27thThursdayOverview of Research MethodsLe Roy 2009
September1stTuesdayImportant ConceptsTrochim 2006
3rdThursdayIntroduction to SPSSChapter 1
8thTuesdayFinding Data for AnalysisUM Library
15thTuesdayDescriptive StatisticsChapter 2; Central Tendency
17thThursdaySampling & S.D.
22ndTuesdayTransforming VariablesChapter 3
24thThursdayone-on-one meetings
29thTuesdayMaking ComparisonsChapter 4; Making Comparisons
October1stThursdayPew Research Center survey datasets
6thTuesdayMaking Controlled ComparisonsChapter 5
8thThursdayInglehart; Hooghe & Marks
13thTuesdayMaking Inferences about Sample MeansChapter 6
15thThursdayIndependent Samples T Test
20thTuesdayChi-square and Measures of AssociationChapter 7
22ndThursdayMaking Comparisons
27thTuesdayCorrelation and Linear RegressionChapter 8; PowerPoint file
29thThursdayAnnotated SPSS Output
November3rdTuesdayDummy Variables and Interaction EffectsChapter 9
5thThursdayone-on-one meetings
10thTuesdayLogistic RegressionChapter 10
12thThursdayExample; Annotated Output
17thTuesdayFinal research presentation dueChapter 11; PowerPoint template
23rdMondayFinal research paper due