Research Design in Comparative Politics

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Ore del corso
Ore dei docenti responsabili
Ore di didattica integrativa

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Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"


Overview of the course: The aim is to provide a common space to the PhD students of the first three years, working from a comparative perspective (comparative research design, small or large N cases, European and /or transnational perspectives on mobilization, political parties, institutions), to present and discuss the development of their thesis projects to an audience made of professors, post-doctoral fellows as well as of their peers. Besides improving reciprocal knowledge and potential networking, the research design course aims at discussing, with reference to the specific projects, the main steps in the development of a comparative research design: from the selection of the research questions, to their theoretical framing, the case(s) selection, the travel of concepts across cases, the choice of the empirical methods of investigation (as well as the accessibility of various types of sources in different contexts), the challenges of field work and comparison, and the analysis and presentation of the results aiming at elucidating differences and similarities across cases. Involving participants at different stages of their academic experiences, the seminar also offers the opportunity to develop PhD’s skills in not only discussing, but also constructively contributing to each other research, both during the sessions and in successive informal, face-to-face or small groups, occasions, that are in part already ongoing and that we hope to stimulate further.


Course format: The seminar has a crash course format and is organized into three full-day meeting according to the schedule provided below. Each student will be assigned two discussants (a PhD student and a Associate/Assistant professor or post-doc researcher), but all will be welcome to comment orally and in written form. 45 minutes will be assigned to each phd student, with 10 minutes of presentation, 7 minutes to each of the discussants and remaining time for further comments from the rest of the audience. Students are asked  to circulate the following type of documents: the research proposal (for I year PhD students); one PhD chapter or PhD-related article and a five page summary of the PhD (for II-III PhD students). All PhD supervisees are asked to participate (also IV year PhD students). In order to allow all to read all, PhD students are asked to upload their materials in google drive at least  a week before each encounter. The seminar is composed of three sessions, that we hope to be able to run in presence, over three days. Further details about the order of presentations will be provided by the instructor via email.

* the research design course in comparative politics will be held jointly with the research design course in social movements, allowing for cross-fertilization between the two.

Requirements: Assessment will be based on (a) the clarity of the presentation; (b) quality of the submitted work; and (c) participation to class discussion, in terms of feedback and peer-review comments provided to fellow PhD students.




 Session N. 1 Discussion of III year PhD students

(5/5/2021, h. 9:30-13 14:30-18)


Session N. 2 Discussion of II year PhD students

(12/5/2021, h. 9:30-13 14:30-18)


Session N. 3 Discussion of I year PhD students

(19/5/2021, h. 10-13 14:30-17)



Obiettivi formativi

  1. analyze with a comparative approach the various aspects of the themes addressed by the students in thier research projects
  2. have a broad understanding of the advantages and difficulties when doing comparative research and critically reflect  on this respect, on  their own research (e.g. degree thesis, master thesis)
  3. contextually demonstrate awareness and knowledge of the main methodological approaches to political and social science comparative research (e.g. case study research, comparative research, process tracing, etc.).
  4. improve oral skills and the capacity of team-working
  5. improve writing skills enhancing own chances of academic and professional success
  6. communicate their ideas in a well-organized, well-expressed manner appropriate to the discipline concerned.  

Riferimenti bibliografici

the literature related to the research project topic of the students